By Noel Smith

RDMIA Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comOver 100 community members attended the April 18 Rio Del Mar Improvement Association Meeting (RDMIA).

The highlights of the bi-annual event included the introduction by Donna Townsend of the Association’s plan to help finance, support and install improvements to Hidden Beach Santa Cruz County Park. Scott Grady, Vice President of TLC (the shopping center’s owner) then gave an in-depth update of progress on the renovation of Rancho Del Mar.

Second District County Supervisor, Zach Friend, then gave a “Community Governance Update” covering several county responsibility areas including affordable housing, county control of the two lots next to the Seabreeze Tavern, and cannabis regulation.

Hidden Beach Park

This County Park is a 1.5-acre gem in Rio Del Mar where families, neighbors, and visitors gather. The park was dedicated in 1992 and has been a community favorite ever since.

Funds raised by the RDMIA will be for park improvements including picnic table and area upgrades, an ADA (American with Disabilities Act) compliant porta-potty structure, and upgrading the children’s playground. Private donations, and funding by the SC County Parks Department, would cover the potential costs for the project estimated at $150,000.

Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center

RDMIA Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comGrady spent time going over in some detail on the work in progress and planned for the Rancho Del mar Shopping Center. Summarizing his report: The three buildings undergoing the most construction are the former theater which is being almost totally replaced, the former Comerica Bank Building, which is undergoing major renovation including its electric, water and sewage systems and Comerica Bank is moving to the former location of the Windjammer.

Current schedules show that Erik’s Deli could re-open in May followed sometime in summer or early fall with Comerica Bank and several other new tenants, which were not named. Also not named is the tenant for the former KFC location that is almost completed. The Rite Aid Building’s renovation should be completed this summer along with the former theater building.

The last to be completed in late fall would be the Aptos Shoe & Apparel building with its adjacent spaces, and the former Comerica Bank building which will have several new tenants, again not named by Grady. As the tenants are finalized with a signed lease, he assured the crowd that they would be announced.

Other improvements: improved lighting to be installed, public dining and gathering area in front of Erik’s, landscaping, and the downward slope from Aptos Shoes to Erik’s Deli to be made ADA compliant. No improvements are planned for the gas station.

County Update

Friend reminded the assembly that the application deadline for measure J housing is May 18, 2018. Contact the County Planning Department at 701 Ocean St., 4th floor in the Santa Cruz County Government Building for a Measure J Packet. The drawing will take place Friday, June 1, 2018. Four one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit are expected in summer or fall of 2018 and in late 2019 a one-bedroom unit, two two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units. This is for first time homebuyers and there are deed restrictions on the resale of the units,

The county has taken ownership of the two lots adjacent to the Seabreeze Tavern and is looking for non-permanent tenants such as food trucks or surfboard rentals. The plan is to eventually make this a permanent public area. During the Q&A one person suggested that there be a bandstand and dance area for entertainment on the lots similar to the one in Capitola. There are no plans for the Seabreeze Tavern itself as long as the owner meets his obligations and pays the property taxes.

According to Friend, Santa Cruz County is one of only 10 local governments (Counties and cities) in California that is putting together a complete set of regulations for both the medical and recreational cannabis industry, which includes growing, processing and selling. In the growing process, the county is proposing no growing in residential of agricultural zones, only in light industrial/manufacturing zones. This is an ongoing evolving process.

In the rail/trail area there is a study to determine which is better for commuting: rail, non-rail transit, or trail only.

The mood of the meeting was positive and inquisitive on the part of both the presenters and those assembled.

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