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The Corridors – Santa Cruz Zoning Changes


The City of Santa Cruz is in process of researching and asking for public feedback on the idea of changing the zoning code along four corridors within the city of Santa Cruz. As shown in the  map below, these corridors include Mission Street (Highway 1), Soquel Avenue, Water Street, and Ocean Street, each identified as a road that carries the heaviest cross-town traffic and provides access to a variety of amenities.

Changes in the zoning code would modify allowable density in these areas. Density is defined as the number of people or housing units in a given area, and residential density is usually measured in dwelling units per acre. If the zoning changes are successful, builders will have the opportunity to build higher density, mixed use housing in specific “nodes” along the corridors.

  • The nodes that have been identified in the Santa Cruz Corridor Planning and Zoning Update are found here (pg 32 and Chapter 5).
  • After surveying the corridors, The City has found 2.67 acres of vacant land, and 46.12 acres of underutilized sites with varying current land use which may serve as areas for future development.

What are the pros and cons of this proposal?

  • Pros
    • Affordable housing is needed in Santa Cruz (see more in the ADU article above). Further development in these areas will allow for more affordable, mixed use housing, benefiting lower and middle income residents.
    • Development of underutilized lots may help to raise property values in surrounding areas.
    • The City has a vision to increase walkability within the corridors, and many may benefit from less transit time and a higher quality of life (see Walkability article below). Read more about the Transportation Commission’s plan here.
  • Cons
    • If appropriate transit is not planned for a higher density neighborhood, development could lead to more traffic and congestion within the city. City Officials are working with the Regional Transportation Commission to ensure development occurs around new or pre-existing bike and public transport areas. City Officials expect that new residents will bike, walk or take public transport to work at least part of the time.
    • Those living in these areas may face undesirable consequences of higher density development (such as condominiums) including less privacy, more noise, more traffic and less parking.

What does this mean for you and how can you participate in the discussion?

  • If you are a developer, this change may be a welcome opportunity to start a new project.
  • If you are living near one of these nodes or along the corridor, your neighborhood will undergo change. Whether that change is positive or negative is for you to decide.
  • New development will likely influence commute times, housing supply, rents (higher supply), and many other aspects of our community. Therefore, every member of Santa Cruz County will be affected.
  • Visit the this site to find public meeting times and news on the progress of the Corridor planning process.

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