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Aug. 21: Santa Cruz Beach Rally for a Better La Bahia Hotel Plan
by Build a Better La Bahia Coalition (BBL [at]
Monday Aug 18th, 2008 4:23 PM
Union laborers, community reps, even La Bahia's neighbors want to upgrade the distressed Santa Cruz beachfront site with a hotel. But they all demand something better--and smaller--than La Behemoth currently being proposed by Barry Swenson Builder and the Seaside Company.

Thursday Evening August 21
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Santa Cruz Main Beach
Contact: Ned Van Valkenburgh
Telephone: 831-760-2429
Email: BBL [at]

Labor, Neighbors, and Community Reps Weigh In:
Proposed Hotel Is Too Big; Coalition asks How Big is Too Big

Thursday Evening August 21 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Santa Cruz Main Beach

Union laborers, community reps, even La Bahia's neighbors want to upgrade the distressed Santa Cruz beachfront site with a hotel. But they all demand something better--and smaller--than La Behemoth currently being proposed by Barry Swenson Builder and the Seaside Company.

According to longtime neighbor Don Webber, "There's a lot of support for building a hotel at La Bahia that is built in scale with the Beach Hill area, in conformance with the zoning law and more in line with community values." Neighbors have been asking city officials for story poles to demonstrate the height and placement of the 125-room luxury hotel up for approval by the City Council in September. Labor unions aren't happy with Swenson's plans since the company hasn't committed to building as a union shop or to a card count union election process for hotel staff. Historic preservationists are unhappy with the decision to totally demolish the aging landmark currently on the site instead of trying to restore even part of it. Community reps don't like the City Council riding roughshod over the general plan, the zoning law, and a host of other city policies intended to protect the quality of life in Santa Cruz. But Swenson wants to demolish a city landmark and build 30 feet above the legal height limit,so he definitely needs to have the city change a number of important planning laws.

All of these groups are gathering for a rally at the beach to inform anyone who wants to know more about La Bahia. The public is invited to the Main Beach right across from La Bahia on Thursday evening, on August 21, 5:30 p.m. Please join them if you want to show your support for the appropriate development of La Bahia, or if you just want to hear another side of the story.

"We'll show you what's right and what's wrong with Swenson proposal," said Mark Weller, of UNITE HERE Local 483, "and how to design a project that benefits the entire community."

The Build a Better La Bahia Coalition is a group of neighbors, construction and service workers, and community representatives interested in the successful development of a hotel at the La Bahia site. They want it to be both economically and environmentally successful.La Bahia is a great hotel site. So let's build a great hotel there--not just a great big one. As a signature project for the Santa Cruz beach area, it must be consistent with core community values: conformance with the planning laws, respect for neighborhood compatibility, good jobs that are secure and pay middle-class wages and benefits. Join us.

# # #

For more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Don Webber or Mark Weller, please call Ned Van Valkenburgh at 831-760-2429, or email BBL [at]
by via BBL Wednesday Aug 20th, 2008 5:32 PM
Build a Better La Bahia Coalition
Contact: Ned Van Valkenburgh
Telephone: 831-760-2429
Email: BBL [at]


Thursday Evening August 21 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Santa Cruz Main Beach

The Swenson & Canfield La Bahia Plan:
No Respect for Community Values

■ Rewarding neglect and incompetence.
The owner of La Bahia site, Charles Canfield’s Seaside Company, is also a partner in the development team. Just 5 years ago, the Swenson-Canfield team assured Santa Cruz that the La Bahia site could be rehabilitated into a thriving hotel. The City bought the argument then, as the City Council unanimously approved that plan,[1] but now the same developer says the buildings suffer too much damage and deterioration to be rehabilitated into a successful hotel.[2] They also say that hotel operators were not interested in the approved rehab plan[3], a piece of information one would assume any competent hotel developer would attain before not after spending resources—their own and the City’s--on the public approval process. Approving this La Bahia plan would reward the owner for allowing the decay of an historic landmark, as well as rewarding the developer for either staggering incompetence or outright deceit in their quickly shifting stories about what is feasible for a future hotel.

■ La Behemoth: The Incredible Growing Hotel.
● 43 feet (maximum), 2003. The Renovation and Addition Project was approved within existing zoning height limits.[4]
● 55 feet, November 2005: Barry Swenson Builder pronounced the approved project infeasible and proposed a taller hotel.[5]
● 72.5 feet, May 2007: The Draft EIR presented an even taller Swenson plan.[6]
● 90 feet, April 2008: The Recirculated Draft EIR shows a hotel extending even further above Beach Street.[7]

And yet, when neighbors petitioned Swenson for story poles to demonstrate the proposed height to the community, the company replied that they were “infeasible.”[8]

■ Total Destruction of an historic landmark.
The Historic Preservation Commission unanimously rejected the plan for La Bahia, because it would totally destroy one of our community’s prized historical landmarks. While asked by HPC members to show willingness to preserve at least some of the original buildings, representatives from Barry Swenson Builder refused.[9]

■ No agreements with organized labor.
The development team has made no agreements with building and construction unions nor with the hospitality workers’ union about future construction and operating jobs. Please see the attached fact sheet, “The La Bahia Project Threatens Middle Class Jobs,” for more detailed information on labor issues.

■ Building a Better La Bahia.
The Build a Better La Bahia Coalition of concerned neighbors, community, and labor unions came together in December 2007 to advocate for a La Bahia Hotel in keeping with Santa Cruz’s community values. Build a Better La Bahia believes a hotel can and should be built with and later staffed by union labor, to neighborhood scale within the City’s planning and zoning laws, while preserving some of the original historic buildings.

[1] June 24, 2003 City Council, first reading.
[2] La Bahia Hotel webpage “Historical—Demo Rational” [sic] at downloaded 8/20/08.
[3] Comments by Jeff Current, vice president of architecture for Barry Swenson Builder at the July 30, 2008 Historic Preservation Commission. See “Mr. Swenson, Don't Tear Down This Wall,” Good Times Santa Cruz, August 5, 2008.
[4] Plan first approved by the City Council on June 24, 2003.
[5] November 15, 2005 City Council. The account in the San Jose Mercury News put the height at “about 57 feet,” November 17, 2005, section B, pg. 2.
[6] La Bahia Hotel: Draft Environmental Impact Report, May 2007, RBF Consulting for the City of Santa Cruz.
[7] La Bahia Hotel: Environmental Impact Report, Recirculated Draft, RBF Consulting for the City of Santa Cruz.
[8] Letter from Barry Swenson Builder to Don Webber, October 2007.
[9] July 30, 2008 Historic Preservation Commission. For an account of the exchange between Commissioner Subocz and Swenson representatives, see “Mr. Swenson, Don't Tear Down This Wall,” Good Times Santa Cruz, August 5, 2008.

Build a Better La Bahia Coalition, 218 First Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, bbl [at]
This La Bahia Project Threatens Middle-Class Jobs

►After more than two years of negotiations and discussions, Barry Swenson Builder still refuses to offer reasonable opportunities for union construction and union operation of the proposed La Bahia hotel. Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties Building & Construction Trades representatives have had discussions and written correspondence with the developer about the union construction issue dating back to 2005. Councilmembers Coonerty (now Mayor) and Madrigal chaired monthly discussions between the developer and the hospitality workers’ union, UNITEHERE! Local 483, beginning on July 10, 2006 and ending April 3, 2007 without agreement.

►Labor is asking for standard agreements for the Monterey Bay and across the state.
● The Building Trades are seeking a full-union construction agreement, as they had achieved on the proposed Coast Santa Cruz Hotel expansion project, and to which Barry Swenson Builder has agreed on other projects, including a hotel conference facility in Pacifica.
● UNITEHERE! Local 483 is seeking a card check/neutrality agreement similar to the agreements signed at hospitality sites in Pacific Grove, Seaside, and Sand City. This is the same process for card count union elections endorsed last year by a large majority of Congress in the Employee Free Choice Act, as well as unanimously supported by the Santa Cruz City Council on September 11, 2007. Dozens of such agreements between California unions and developers/operators have been made in the past decade.

►The developer has built and operated union projects before. Barry Swenson Builder has committed to build with 100% union labor on Pacifica and San Jose projects. Charles Canfield’s Seaside Company, co-owner of the La Bahia project, operated the Holiday Inn (currently, the University Inn & Conference Center under different ownership & management) with unionized labor.

►Community and labor groups have withheld endorsement of the project without labor agreements.
● Santa Cruz’s Community Coalition for a Sustainable Economy (CCSE) wrote a June 29, 2006 letter to the developer stating, “It will … be difficult for our Coalition to formally endorse the project until the owners of the project reach agreements with the key unions, which represent the community’s values on workers’ rights to organize and to receive a living wage.”
● The Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, representing 30,000 union members, voted unanimously at its July 2, 2007 delegate meeting to oppose the La Bahia project until the developers come to agreements with the Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties Building Trades and UNITEHERE Local 483 unions, demonstrating a commitment to quality jobs.

►The Union difference can rebuild Santa Cruz’s middle-class. With the city losing two-fifths (38.2%) of its manufacturing jobs since 1990,[1] new development in Santa Cruz can sustain good middle-class jobs in construction and move low-income hospitality jobs into the middle-class through unionization. In California, low-to-middle income occupations average 27-34% more in wages when unionized,[2] and the union advantage is even greater in benefits, where union workers are 59% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and 347% more often have guaranteed pensions.[3]

[1] California Budget Project "The State of Working California," August 2007. p. 47,
[2] California Budget Project "A Generation of Widening Inequality," August 2007. p. 31,
[3] U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics, Tables 1 and 5, “National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2007,”

Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, 931 E market St, Salinas CA 93905, (831) 633-1869,
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BEACH RALLY 5:30 PM TODAY AT LA BAHIAnow!!!Thursday Aug 21st, 2008 5:38 PM
La Bahia Hotel Project, Final EIRvia Aug 20th, 2008 3:27 PM

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