As I begin each New Year as your County Supervisor, I like to report back in this column on some of the things we’ve accomplished because of your partnership and communication of priorities. Here is a very small overview of what we accomplished in 2018:
Community Meetings: In 2018, we’ve held over 70 open office hours in Aptos, Corralitos, La Selva Beach and Watsonville and held or attended nearly 50 community and neighborhood meetings in Seacliff, La Selva, Aptos, Watsonville, Capitola and Corralitos.
In addition, I’ve written over 50 columns in local papers and neighborhood newsletters to communicate with our district about county happenings.
Housing: The Board focused extensively this year on making the construction of affordable housing easier. One of my main focus areas was on reducing the burden for constructing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). ADUs (sometimes called “granny units”) are one of the quickest ways to improve the housing stock — especially the affordable housing stock.
The Board adopted a proposal I brought forward to waive nearly all County fees associated with small-sized ADU construction for the next three years. Additionally, the Board continued to streamline the process so that most permits for ADUs can be done over the counter.
The Board prohibited these ADUs from becoming vacation rentals to ensure the units become long-term rentals or an on-site living location for seniors aging in place, for example. Additionally, the Board approved density bonuses to incentive affordable housing construction — maximizing available land space for smaller, affordable (often deed-restricted affordable) units.
Local Roads: While we continue to repair the over $130 million in damage to local roads and County facilities after the storms a few years ago we have also begun road work associated with the passage of Measure D.
Many roads in La Selva were repaired this first year with work coming in the next few years to Seacliff, Rio Del Mar and part of Corralitos. Storm damage repairs planned for the coming year, which require funding and sign-offs from state and federal agencies as well, can be found on the Public Works website (under the SB1 funding link).
Public Safety: Additional Sheriff’s deputies were hired placing more front line staff on the streets in our district.
With the passage of Measure G in November the Sheriff’s Office will be creating a new directed enforcement team with Behavioral Health staff to address individuals that are high impact (meaning they consume a lot of resources) but also refuse services.
This will allow the Sheriff’s Office to address these individuals in a new way. As a note, overall crime rates in the unincorporated area are at some of their lowest levels compared to the last forty years.
Economic Vitality and Reserves: The Board again continued to increase our reserves, something that we have done the last few years, which has led to improved bond ratings and lower borrowing costs.
The reserves will also help provide some protection of services during a recession should one come in the next few years.
Moving Forward: The above is just a partial list of what we’ve done this year and I know there is a lot more to do on all of these issues in 2019.
We made significant progress on parks (with a new pump track at Pinto Lake Park and Measure G funding that will allow us to build LEO’s Haven all-inclusive park and make improvements in our district to Aptos Village Park and other parks), moved through a strategic planning process that guides decision making (including moving toward a two year budget process for better data collection and programmatic review), began to upgrade our libraries as a result of Measure S and much more.
This past year we estimate that we addressed over 750 direct requests for service to our office on transportation and road issues, neighborhood public safety concerns, storm damage, environmental issues, health and human services, technology services and more — all from your emails, visits during office hours and calls to us.
We’d love to continue to hear from you to prioritize what we do. Call us at 454-2200 and have a great New Year!