State rules require Santa Cruz city leaders to issue permits for hundreds of homes in the next 10 years. Do you support housing above shops on Soquel Avenue, Mission Street and Ocean Street? How and where should the city add homes?
Fred Keeley: It’s very clear that, in order for the City of Santa Cruz to meet the state’s requirement for Regional Housing Needs Allocation, that the city has the greatest opportunity to do this in a new neighborhood, Downtown Santa Cruz.
I suspect that what we’re going to have in the City of Santa Cruz is as we go to these district elections, we’re going to hear district council members all say that they believe that the city needs to authorize more affordable housing being built. At the same time, we hear that many of those same people will think that most of that should not happen in their district, it should happen someplace else.
The new opportunity to build a new neighborhood south of Laurel (Street), as we head toward the beach — with something on the order of 1,000 to 1,200 new housing units with a significant portion of that being affordable — is going to make sense to a lot of people. That’s what we do in cities: We do the development in urban areas. The urban component is two or three blocks wide, from the top of Pacific Avenue to Beach Hill. That’s the urban part of Santa Cruz. Smart cities increase their density and develop within their urban area.
There was a proposal at one time called the Corridors Plan, which was to develop along Water, Soquel (Avenue) and Mission streets, the various arterial streets in our community. There was a lot of public objection to that. I think that the way to keep faith with the voters is there will be some development, along Soquel (Avenue), along Water Street, and along other places that are appropriate for development to take place. One of those is right next to where I live, at the corner of Market and Water streets in Santa Cruz. That’s a perfectly appropriate place to increase density and build new housing.
By and large, I think that where we’ll see the political will to build housing — affordable housing, increasing density — is in a new neighborhood downtown.