Saturday, February 13, 2010

Enquiring Minds: Why are there so many homeless working class and working poor people in Santa Cruz California?

From the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian:
"The more than 20 lots on Atkinson, and more in the surrounding neighborhood, that are identified as sites for high-density housing in the Housing Element are all located within the city boundaries.

Furthermore, Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantzis and her assistant Bradley Owen said the Housing Element was only a plan, and while the city must plan for the construction of 923 units, it did not have to build them.

“It’s not a commitment to build housing, it’s a commitment to identify where we could build housing if somebody wants do it,” [src]
But HEY! At least Watsonville California created a housing plan, unlike the city of Santa Cruz, who have not done so since 'redevelopment' after the 1989 earthquake, and then proceeded to criminalize the victims of their own violation of state law by making an ongoing series of nuisance ordinances and selectively enforce them.

For instance, Personally witnessed... continual citing of the homeless for camping (meaning simply intending to, or looking like, you're going to lay down to sleep), while allowing movie theater patrons downtown to roll out their bedding and literally sleep on the sidewalk and doorway of the theater until ten in the morning the next day while waiting for the premiere of the most recent Harry Potter movie.

Camping 'exposed to public view' is illegal, even on your own property in the city of Santa Cruz.

When I flagged a police officer down over it, he simply told me with sarcasm in his voice: I'm VERY busy right now...( from behind his 'Black Fly' sunglasses, as the electric window went up and he slowly rolled away)

In 2006, The Santa Cruz Metro ran the following article on the county's involvement in what is, at it's most basic definition, REDLINING, while the people who live and work here scrambled for a decent place to live (and the people who commute over the hill could easily afford the rent).

California Rural Legal Aid, the housing lawyers for the underclass of California had finally, after more than a decade, brought the county to 'justice'.
Santa Cruz Metro
December 20-27, 2006

Nu-z: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

30 Acres and a Duel

If a town or county's General Plan is its local constitution, then its Housing Element may well be its Bill of Rights.

Other general plan sections describe how local traffic flows, or what facilities will serve the residents. But the housing element details a far more basic matter: who will be able to live there.

And for that reason a number of states, including California, require all local governments to turn in housing plans every few years. Plans that detail who lives there, how well they're housed, what stands in the way of housing people well and what the locality intends to do about it.

Note the first part: "who lives there." Not every community must house every possible person.

Monte Sereno, perhaps lacking farmworkers, might not need farmworker housing; Watsonville might not need to zone for megamansions. But those who are present must be adequately housed, and localities must prove it.

That's state law--a law that Santa Cruz county government has failed to follow since 1994, and in that failure, lost not only state approval for its housing element, but the chance to grab some $3 million to $4 million in housing funds, as well as disaster relief funds, every year since, as only those with certified housing elements qualify for the big bucks... [In Full]
But it's NOT over...

The city of Santa Cruz planned for, and allowed building permits for, hundreds of over-priced 'luxury condos' (some with no hot tub and one parking place... ROTFL!) which, in the end, after the computer industry quasi-affluent 'wave' rolled out, were allowed to become dormitories for UCSC students (The same has happened to the two largest SRO hotels downtown as well) when it became painfully clear that no one was going to lease them and the developers threatened to sue.

Santa Cruz is not building any more of that petit-elite tickytacky now... One that was started just as the mortgage market was crashing has ended up a blighted hole-in-the-ground at the top of downtown's main street, Pacific Avenue, where a nice cobblestone plaza with small shops at it perimeter once stood (occupied)... and there's STILL no housing for the people who work and live here, and no plan for it, despite the loss of millions of dollars in federal funds, and in ongoing violation of state law.


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