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|Loss of Housing on Agenda at Santa Cruz City Council|
|Date||Tuesday October 07|
|Time||7:00 PM - 9:00 PM|
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Santa Cruz City Hall
Church and Center
On Tuesday October 7th, at 7PM in the evening, the City Council has called a special City Council study session to try to figure out how to permit dwelling units that are basically safe and complaint free within the context of the city’s proactive Rental Inspection Program and Accessory Dwelling Ordinances. Please consider weighing in on these important and complicated policy matters. As an unintended consequence of city policies designed to raise the quality of housing people are being kicked out of their units. This includes single mother Paula Gregoire, who has garnered a certain amount of sympathetic notoriety, including (of course) a facebook page: Save Paula’s Cottage
Though neither City Staff nor Councilmembers want to see anyone lose their housing, the City’s Rental Inspection Ordinance is exposing 100’s of residents to the potential of eviction. And more will surface as the program reaches out to more landlords. Some rentals that have been safely lived in for many years without complaints from neighbors are being deemed illegal and forced into closure due to zoning ordinances that require certain setbacks and automobile parking requirements. Some are falling victim to the well intentioned law that only allows accessory dwelling units on owner occupied lots. Others are being shut down due to the daunting task of renovating old housing stock up to modern building codes. Most of the housing is abandoned without the city’s knowledge as landlords try to stay under the radar of the new ordinances.
To solve the problem we could:
· Get rid of the proactive Rental Inspection Program and go back to a complaint driven system. We could add more aggressive outreach in Spanish and English in an attempt to address unsafe housing. This is being proposed by an organization called Rental Ordinance Action- Repeal with a website at http://www.santacruzrentalrights.com
· Enact a moratorium on abatements other than health and safety issues while we figure this out. This was recommended by the City’s Planning Commission several months ago.
· Make it easier to legalize units including rolling back some setback and parking requirements and possibly getting rid of the owner occupied requirement.
Councilmember Comstock and I are interested in all of the above but only the latter approach fits easily within the current structure of the City. While I support incremental changes to the zoning code, they will not apply to all housing and so we will still be in the position of evicting some people from reasonable safe housing that is acceptable to neighbors. Additionally, this approach will require expensive renovations to bring residences up to current code, even if they are basically safe.
How do you think the Council should proceed on this matter? Please consider coming to the study session to work on these issues with us and/or send us your questions or comments to citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com.
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