By Manu Koenig, Supervisor, First District
My office has been busy the past month working on initiatives to address affordable housing and homelessness, conducting community outreach on the Live Oak Parking Program, and bringing awareness to METRO upgrades and COVID-19 related developments. Here are some highlights:
Housing and Homelessness Initiatives
At the March 9 Board of Supervisors meeting we voted on several housing and homelessness initiatives. In partnership with Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, I brought forward a proposal to allow the creation of temporary housing communities operated by nonprofits, religious organizations, and neighborhood groups.
This proposal is based off of ordinances recently passed by Sacramento and other jurisdictions, as well as the success of programs like Community First! Village in Austin, Texas. This is one critical piece of the strategy to address homelessness in our community. At the same meeting we also adopted a Strategic Framework for Addressing Homelessness.
I also worked with Supervisor Bruce McPherson to propose an initiative that will help CZU fire victims, as well as the general community, build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) much faster.
We have asked the Planning Department to create a set of pre-approved ADU plans that will be available on the County’s website for the public to download free of charge. Anyone who choses to use these plans will be able to get a building permit same day.
Progress continues on the Tiny Homes initiative the Board approved on Jan. 26. We have asked the Planning Department to incorporate tiny homes, including movable tiny homes, as legal ADUs and primary residences. The community provided positive feedback at the 90-minute community meeting March 16, which you can view at https://tinyurl.com/sccmeet-tiny-homes
Santa Cruz METRO Update
- FREE and Reduced Fares: A 6 month, 50% fare reduction for all adults and kids and free fares for discount eligible customers began March 22. It is slated to end Sept. 15.Live Oak
- FREE Rides to Your COVID-19 Vaccination (just show your vaccine reservation information).
- All Electric, Zero Emissions Buses: The first of 4 electric buses has arrived! Three more will arrive soon.
- OnDemand Service: Beginning in March, riders can use an app to book a ride ($4 for a one-way ride) on a ParaCruz van. More information is at https://www.scmtd.com/en/
- Splash Pass: Use your phone to buy a METRO pass anytime, anywhere using the Splash Pass.
Give Input on Beach Parking
On April 13, Public Works staff will present their 2021 season proposal to the Board of Supervisors for parking in the Pleasure Point and Harbor area (the Live Oak Parking Program).
Our county continues to do very well with vaccination and case rates. We anticipate having enough vaccine in the near future to have vaccinated 60% of the county by the end of May. We are currently on track to enter the orange tier on May 31. People who are 65+ remain at the highest risk; information on where to get vaccinated is at www.santacruzhealth.org.
COVID Rental Assistance
About $16 million in rental assistance is now available to Santa Cruz County residents. Low-income renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic are eligible, and funds can be used to help with rent, utilities, and related housing costs. Apply at www.housing.ca.gov or by calling 1-833-430-2122.
As always, I welcome your feedback. You can reach me and my analysts at: [email protected].