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Neighbors and Labor Rally Against La Behemoth; Change to Zoning Law
by ~Bradley
On August 21st, workers and Santa Cruz community members rallied in front of La Bahia protesting a variety of issues, including the ratio of unionized labor during the reconstruction and then operation of the new hotel. Neighbors, particularly those that live on First Street, are upset that the proposed project exceeds the current legal height limit and because the site is not zoned for such a large building. Other people want to preserve, rather than destroy, the historic landmark built in the 1920s. A press release by the Build a Better La Bahia Coalition, a group of neighbors, construction and service workers, and community representatives interested in the successful development of a hotel at the site of La Bahia, states that they want the new hotel to be "both economically and environmentally successful." However, concern for the environment, at least from the labor unions, appears to be token at best. In 1999, Mary Spicuzza wrote an in-depth article in Metro Santa Cruz about the plans for La Bahia. In the article, Spicuzza notes, "Union advocates concede that the their primary concern isn't preserving landmarks or keeping neighbors happy, it's organizing workers." On the other hand, Ross Gibson and the City of Santa Cruz Historic Preservation Commission seem to be the most influential in regards to architectural preservation and environmental concerns, as well as the relocation of residents.

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