Apr 24, 2021 we joined DCA to Celebrate Earth Day at the Commons – aka Lot 4 – site of Farmers market, home of the magnificent trees scheduled to be cut down by the city for a garage/library.
More great pictures from the event here
At the Earth Event we posted 14 photographs from the Climate Action Photo Contest- Full details
City Tree Policy
A recent city council meeting included the Street Tree Master Plan, which calls for preserving trees and planting more.
Street Tree Master Plan (PR) Listen to the recording starting at 2 hr. 53 min.
Santa Cruz Sentinel May 1, 2021 By Stephen Kessler
Up close, from under their expansive canopy, the magnolias look even larger. I’ve long appreciated their beauty in passing, but their size from this perspective is even more impressive. Their shiny green leaves and shady branches reaching in every direction release oxygen into the atmosphere and absorb carbon, storing it in their massive trunks, too big for even the lankiest tree hugger to get her arms around.
All the more outrageous then that under cover of the buzzwords “bold climate action” and “health in all policies” the city intends to whack these heritage trees and replace them with a block-long five-story parking garage with a library tucked into one corner and “50 units of affordable housing” belatedly slapped on as a last-ditch ploy to win the approval of a skeptical public for what is euphemistically called the “Downtown Library Mixed-use project.”
The public, via the Measure S bond issue of 2016, has approved only renovation of the library, not the massacre of these trees nor the transplanting of the Church Street library onto this lot, the last open space in downtown Santa Cruz and the perfect setting for a public plaza as championed by Downtown Commons Advocates and the Santa Cruz Climate Action Network, sponsors of these Earth Day festivities. This low-budget, grassroots, free-admission celebration features a variety of musical acts performing from the back of a pickup truck and an audience of socially spaced and safely masked spectators seated in folding chairs or dancing on the asphalt while tables representing a dozen or so environmental and political organizations ring the periphery with their informational and advocational handouts.
Of the 100 or so people scattered about this pop-up plaza, it’s hard to know who I recognize because everyone’s mask obscures their identity; but a former colleague calls my name from behind a table with information about the 831 Water Street project and its neighborhood opponents, who favor “safe, reasonable, responsible and respectful” affordable housing in Santa Cruz, not the five-story, 60-feet-tall, 151-unit development that threatens to leave a neighborhood of single-story homes in the shadow of its disproportionate profile. This is but one example of the trend to throw up multistory housing anywhere it will fit without regard for its impact on current residents.
Affordable housing is needed, but not necessarily on every square foot of available land. Downtown is growing, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as some room remains for sunlight and public space where people can pause to do something besides shopping. Today’s gathering is a good example: live music and human bodies circulating, possibly for the first time since the Before Times, welcoming the chance to dance and schmooze and celebrate social life outdoors, which seemed so natural before but now, after long confinement, has the luxurious feeling of freedom.
The breeze off the bay is unseasonably cool in the global weirdness of climate change plaguing the planet, which will not be saved by tearing down seismically sound buildings like the Civic Center library and constructing steel and concrete parking megaliths destined for obsolescence. If that is to be the tragic fate of this block and these gorgeous trees, then every moment it’s possible to bathe in their cool shade should be savored like a last meal on Death Row — or at the Farmers Market, which the city has sentenced to be displaced and removed to a much less attractive, less appropriate location, at Front and Cathcart streets (Lot 7), which could easily be the site of affordable housing.
City bureaucrats and the City Council, serving as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, have condemned these trees in the name of economic development. The actual cost of building their “21st-century library” will be significantly greater than the $25.5 million remaining for it in Measure S funds. Where that money will come from is among the many questions for which we are owed answers before the chainsaws scream into action and slaughter the trees.
Stephen Kessler is the author of “Garage Elegies,” available at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
Feb 2021 – New signs attached to the magnolias every Wednesday – joint DCA & SC CAN project – Thanks Erica Aiken.Look for new signs – on the trees on Farmers market days.
Feb 2021 – We are still fighting the Taj Garage monstrosity. Here’s a link to several excellent columns by Stephen Kessler.
New song from Russell Brutsche, all about the garage-library, farmers market, and our Downtown Commons updated version Oct 6 ENJOY!!
Russell’s Third song “For the Climate is a Changing” Oct 20
Details for connecting with Council Meeting Oct 27th
WIN – WIN Restore the LIBRARY and SAVE THE TREES
Win for Library: Renovation supplemented with funds saved from not building a garage.
Win for Farmers Market: Permanence at an improved Downtown Commons.
Win for Affordable Housing:
1. Build affordable housing on Front St City Lot #7 instead of moving the Farmers Market there.
2. Partner with Calvary Church to build affordable housing above City-operated ground level parking.
Seems it will take a new City Council see the light. VOTE!
Lots more details in this OPED from Sandra Ivany including suggestions for email to the city
City Council Sep 22
Good summary from Jean Brocklebank leader of Don’t Bury the Library (DBTL):
All our emails helped! There were a total of 82 opposed to (and 41 in favor of) approving the contract for an Owner’s Representative, due to insufficient information. Then another 12 opposed to 5 in favor who spoke at yesterday’s 3 hour long meeting.
In the end, we prevailed and staff will have to return in mid-late October with the information they were directed in June to provide in September!
Excellent new 4 minute video describes the problem well.
The planned garage/Library/(maybe a little housing) would destroy ALL of them. There is a great new website https://garagealternatives.org/ with lots of details. The garage has been strenuously opposed by Campaign for Sustainable Transportation. Their website has details on why the parking is not needed.
Great article with wonderful graphics about how cars have been taking way too much space in our cities.
Let the city council know the painting at the right is NOT what we want.
Here’s a local artist impression of the market.
This lot would be a perfect site for a public park where people could meet out of doors, read , relax, let the kids run or just enjoy the trees.
and the SC Sentinel version of the city proposal
If you’d like to join our campaign you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check out this group sign up.
Here are some more tree photos
- Don’t Bury the Library
- Sierra Club
- Campaign for Sustainable Transportation
- Youth for Climate Justice
- Downtowns Commons Advocates
- Santa Cruz Climate Action Network