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Neighbors and Labor Rally Against La Behemoth; Change to Zoning Law

by ~Bradley (bradley [at]
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.
On September 23rd, there will be a Santa Cruz City Council meeting at City Hall, at 7pm. The Build a Better La Bahia Coalition (BBL) is asking that people show up and also speak for a minute or two against the City's plan to approve a change in the zoning law that will allow the massive new hotel to be built on Beach Hill.
BBL is also requesting that people send an email to the City Council, RE: LA BAHIA, to: citycouncil [at]

For more coverage and background information, please see:

STOP La Bahia Expansion and Takeover!
by Radio Trabajadora

Aug. 21: Santa Cruz Beach Rally for a Better La Bahia Hotel Plan
by Build a Better La Bahia Coalition

New, taller La Bahia conference hotel proposed (November 14, 2005)

Is La Bahia part of Santa Cruz's leisurely past or a key to its economic future?
By Mary Spicuzza
§La Behemoth
by ~Bradley
Balloons are used to demonstrate the actual height of the proposed project.
by ~Bradley
by ~Bradley
by ~Bradley
"LIUNA—the Laborers’ International Union of North America—is the most progressive, aggressive and fastest-growing union of construction workers, and one of the most diverse and effective unions representing public service employees."
§Marla Celli
by ~Bradley
Marla owns a house on First Street which would be severely impacted by the proposed reconstruction.
§Tim Fitzmaurice
by ~Bradley
Tim is a Santa Cruz City Councilmember
by ~Bradley
by ~Bradley
"UNITE (formerly the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) and HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union) merged on July 8, 2004 forming UNITE HERE. The union represents more than 450,000 active members and more than 400,000 retirees throughout North America.

"UNITE HERE boasts a diverse membership, comprised largely of immigrants and including high percentages of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American workers. The majority of UNITE HERE members are women."
§First Street
by ~Bradley
§View of the Pacific Ocean
by ~Bradley
This view would be gone if La Behemoth is constructed.
§Proposed La Bahia Hotel
by ~Bradley
by ~Bradley
§Bell Tower and Wharf
by ~Bradley
Add Your Comments

Comments (Hide Comments)
by Expat
This has actually been going on for a long time. The article that you're quoting from the Metro was actually written in 1999, the most recent article written by Will Mosher, can be found here. A guy named Don Webber tried to get the builder to put up story poles (in order to illustrate how large the building will be,) and the builder Barry-Swenson (I think,) refused.

by if the shoe FITZ
FYI, Tim is a FORMER Santa Cruz City Council member, and CURRENT candidate for a seat on the City Council
by bradley
if the shoe FITZ, thanks for catching my mistake. The current councilmembers are Ryan Coonerty (mayor), Cynthia Mathews (vice mayor), Ed Porter, Emily Reilly, Lynn Robinson, Mike Rotkin and Tony Madrigal.

Expat, I know the Metro article I quote is from 1999, and I wrote, "In 1999, Mary Spicuzza wrote an in-depth article in Metro Santa Cruz about the plans for La Bahia."
by Planner
I can't believe that Santa Cruz doesn't routinely require story poles to be put up as part of the planning/environmental review process. It ought to be standard on projects over some threshold size or height. Even if the city doesn't require it, you would think an astute builder would do it voluntarily, both to address neighborhood concerns, and to avoid having to re-do environmental review for a higher agency such as the coastal commission.

I looked at the La Bahia web site. The street level part of the proposal doesn't look too bad, but the back part of the project is massive, and that's the part that is uphill, so it will really stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
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