What would Measure M do?
- The initiative would require Santa Cruz housing proposals with 30 or more units to have 25% of the homes as deed-restricted affordable.
- Changes to height or density limits would require a citywide election rather than Santa Cruz City Council approval. An election could stem from height or density exceptions proposed for a housing project, or if a developer, the city council or another group proposed an exception for a larger area.
A building’s density is the ratio between the total floor area of the building and the parcel size. Allowing additional floors, reducing a building’s setback from the street, or reducing the required distance between buildings, would all increase density and trigger an election, according to a Measure M impact report written by city consultants.
If adopted, Measure M would apply retroactively to development applications submitted after June 1, 2023, according to the measure's text.
What does a “yes” vote mean?
A “yes” vote would raise the affordability requirements for larger housing developments and require a citywide election to approve changes to city rules that limit building height and density. For instance, if city rules allow a six-story building and a developer wants to build a seven-story building, that proposal would trigger an election rather than require approval from the Santa Cruz City Council.
Measure M would not affect the additional height from a density bonus that some projects qualify for under state law. Density bonus building proposals could still be taller or denser than city laws allow if they provide affordable housing.
Measure M also would require new buildings with 30 or more homes to dedicate 25% of units to affordable housing based on state-set income limits.
What does a “no” vote mean?
A “no” vote would keep the existing process for changing allowable height and density rules. The process now requires a recommendation from the Santa Cruz Planning Commission and a vote from the Santa Cruz City Council. If the area is in the Coastal Zone, it also requires approval from the California Coastal Commission.
What is the ballot language?
“An initiative measure proposing an ordinance that:
- Prohibits the Santa Cruz City Council from amending the city’s General Plan or zoning ordinance in a way that increases allowable height limits or floor area ratios for development projects, without a prior vote of the people; and
- Increases the city’s inclusionary housing requirements to at least 25% for developments with 30 or more housing units.”
Things to consider about Measure M
- Arguments for and against Measure M.
- Background of the Downtown Expansion Plan.
- Measure M election requirement.
- Measure M and the affordable housing rate.
- Background on state housing goals.
- Measure M and market-rate housing.
- Measure M and in-law units and fences.