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Corridors Plan is put to bed

By Chris Krohn

The now infamous Corridors Plan has been laid to rest after some pretty fearsome handto- hand combat. The “war” included pitch battles of correcting the record, defining quality of life, and reevaluating traffic impacts at the Planning Commission, City Council and numerous other public meetings.

It involved two city election cycles and only by placing a solid neighborhood-friendly majority on the city council would the battles be over. Much was at stake: over-development by market- rate developers, depletion of parking for local businesses along the Soquel, Ocean and Water street corridors, and what is the cost to neighbors of losing a sense of community? The city council heard these community voices and responded. The Corridors Plan is no more.

The four-year struggle against the Corridors Plan was undertaken to defend neighborhoods from profit-driven market- rate development schemes.

It finally culminated in a fivepart motion at the Aug. 27 City Council meeting put forward by Councilwoman Sandy Brown and seconded by Vice-Mayor Justin Cummings. Included in the passage of this motion was a sincere desire on the part of the city council to work with neighbors and incorporate them into any final development plan decision-making. The motion included directing city planning staff to “meet promptly with representatives of Save Santa Cruz and other community groups” to begin to develop a more neighborhood- friendly plan and to report back to the city council by its Oct. 22 meeting.

The Branciforte Action Committee (BAC) and Save Santa Cruz groups are to be applauded for out-organizing the developers on this one. Hundreds of locals became involved in the challenge, which just might stand as perhaps one of the great organizing efforts in Santa Cruz history. It is right up there with the rejection of the Beach and South of Laurel boondoggle, the desalination plant fiasco, the proposed non-starter of 10,000 homes on Wilder Ranch, and of course, the community dudgeon unleashed on the grandparent of all bad projects, one that perhaps kicked off the progressive era, the proposed Lighthouse Field Convention Center and Hotel complex. One big problem from the start of the now-defunct Corridors Plan was the absence of community input from Eastsiders.

One question that comes up often is, do the progressives only kill projects? Do they ever propose anything? This seems to be the criticism articulated by certain “build-baby-build” interests. To that sentiment, I would refer the critics to the senior apartments on Gault Street, the Tannery Arts Center on River Street, the 83 affordable units inside 1010 Pacific Ave., the renovation of the Del Mar Theater, and what about the preservation and continuing community enjoyment of Lighthouse Field, Wilder Ranch, the Pogonip, and the Moore Creek Uplands.

I would like to think real progressive values are about affordability, livability, quality of life, environmental protection, equity, justice, and fairness. Throw in a large dose of activism and love of community and you have the Santa Cruz progressive era.

Beginning in the 1980s, Santa Cruz was a sanctuary city, declared a ban on off-shore oil drilling, and was a world-famous “nuclear-free zone.” You can’t make this stuff up.

What’s on Santa Cruz’s horizon? Currently, there are many exciting questions out there that activists, developer-types, students, council members, and working people are talking about. These include: Will the downtown public library be renovated on its current site without a five-story garage being built? What will be the future of the downtown Farmer’s Market? Could the downtown commons idea gain traction?

Will affordable housing actually be included in the more than 1,000 units of unaffordable housing now being proposed for downtown? Will UCSC come to its senses and limit its growth to the now agreed-upon number of students, 19,500, in order to preserve and protect quality education? As Peter Douglas, the long-time executive director of the California Coastal Commission was fond of saying, the coast is never saved, the coast is always being saved.

Chris Krohn is a member of the Santa Cruz City Council.

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