By Bruce McPherson, County Supervisor 5th District
This has been a time of listening in the Fifth District as multiple Santa Cruz County departments have been seeking your opinions in an effort to “co-create” our community’s future.
Accessory Dwelling Units
The County Planning Department recently engaged about 75 residents in a discussion of accessory dwelling units (ADU’s) — what works and what doesn’t. In the San Lorenzo Valley, ADU’s are a source of affordable housing and income. But about half of them are built without permits. And only 18 were permitted last year, far fewer than anticipated. Why?
Cost is a big factor. Based on a month-long survey that generated 670 responses, the average accessory dwelling is 500 to 535 square feet, and the average cost can range from $50,000 for a conversion to $80,000 for an attached unit, $99,250 for a unit above a garage and $140,000 for a detached unit. Labor and materials add up to $95,600, design, $7,700, permits, $13,700, utility hookups, $10,400, with an estimated $16,000 in other costs, based on survey results.
Another deterrent: People are afraid to try to get permits. I think the past reputation of the Planning Department as being difficult to deal with still lingers, despite the many improvements in recent years. The real challenge I see is the cost. We will continue to look for ways to reduce costs to allow affordable housing to be built.
Crime by Zip Code
The Sheriff’s Office also was out listening this week. About 70 Boulder Creek residents gathered at the Boulder Creek Pizza & Pub to hear crime statistics for their “zip code,” and to hear outcomes of burglary cases in their neighborhoods and to share their concerns and observations.
The results are heartening: statistically, Boulder Creek is a good, safe community. Most people were concerned primarily about law enforcement resource issues — residents want a sub-station in Boulder Creek, shorter response times and more deputies. Mail theft, speeding, public intoxication and drug use were other top concerns.
The Sheriff’s Office is in the process of purchasing a Mobile Community Policing Substation that will be available periodically to station in Boulder Creek. Hopefully, it will go a long way in meeting the demand in Boulder Creek for a substation. I will also continue to work with the Sheriff’s Office on possible improvements to provide more law enforcement resources.
In the meantime, the Sheriff’s Office expects to respond to the groups’ suggestions and comments in about two weeks.
The Santa Cruz County Parks Department is also making the rounds to hear from residents as they create the County’s first Strategic Plan. The plan will help guide the future of local parks, facilities, coastal access, open spaces, public art and recreation activities in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The first meeting, held at Highlands Park on April 27 was well attended and elicited hundreds of ideas specific to individual parks and future parks. The resident park “planners” clearly want Quail Hollow Park to remain a nature preserve, want the Bull Creek riparian corridor next to the planned new Felton Library to be the site of children’s field trips and a nature explore area.
The final series of planning meetings that will be held this spring are for the Highway 9/San Lorenzo Valley Corridor Plan. Caltrans has awarded the Regional Transportation Commission a planning grant of $249,000 to prepare a complete streets plan for the Highway 9 corridor through San Lorenzo Valley. The plan – with your input — will identify, evaluate and prioritize transportation projects — vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle — that improve safety, access to schools, businesses and bus stops. This includes prioritization of projects for $10 million in Measure D funds, which have been allocated for Highway 9 projects.
Save the date: the first San Lorenzo Valley/Highway 9 Corridor Plan community meeting will be May 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Felton Community Hall.
Thank you all for participating in these community meetings. Your vision, as well as the detailed knowledge you provide, truly helps us co-create our community.
If you have any questions just drop me an email Bruce.McPherson@santacruzcounty.us or call me at 454-2200.