Plus Letters To the Editor
That proposed Hyatt Hotel in Santa Cruz is still generating buzz. As reported last week, the 106-room enterprise is forcing many locals to consider the traffic and safety implications it might have in the Lower Ocean Street neighborhood of Santa Cruz. Ponder this week’s letters and send us your thoughts—and let’s see where the dialogue takes us.
In the meantime, take note of all of the stories in this week’s News section, particularly the re-opening of the Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building. The re-opening of the hall is good news, but there has been some tension in the process. Read on.
And other notable matters are worthy of deeper discussion. For that, be sure to read and consider this week’s cover story. Penned by John Malkin, who previously wrote about the Occupy Movement for GT, the article delves into a topic that sparked interest around the United States: Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs). The technology is impressive but it has received some backlash. Learn why, and discover how ALPR might affect Santa Cruz if and when it is put into use.
The only ALPR-ish experience I had as a kid growing up back in Chicago was my Polish mother. Bless her—she could take one look at you and know you if you did something a little off kilter. Sometimes that’s a good thing. (And really, looking back, it would have been good to take some of the woman’s advice.) C'est la vie. Or as they say in Polish, takie jest zycie.
The big thing GT will be monitoring this week is the Best Of Santa Cruz ballots. It’s that time of year again to cast your votes. Ballots go live Feb. 3.
Have a prosperous week. Onward ...
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief
Hot on the Hyatt’s Trail
Regarding the News story about the Hyatt in Santa Cruz (GT 1/23), I don't understand is how will the 30-plus attendees, who come for a meeting, not cause overflow onto Broadway and the bike lanes with only a few valet parkers? Why did city council ignore the neighbors' request and a 160-person petition for more traffic funds?
Bump outs and speed bumps on Clay Street, Campbell and Riverside Avenues, which would have required much more than the paltry $15,000 the hotel was asked to pay for, would have helped mitigate the parking and traffic impact of this huge hotel. And even though they are doing no traffic measurements other than one between the hotel and Ocean Street—so the city really has no way to measure the parking impact on the neighborhood—how do the low-income neighbors pay for permit parking after the hotel's $10,000 runs out?
The city council could have asked the hotel to do a little more for the neighborhood since they were using the Planned Development permit to change the use of zoning for this parcel, claiming community benefit. Isn't Lower Ocean worth putting some of that money into parking, improving sidewalks, planting trees, and installing trashcans? Or is our only benefit that an empty lot will now have a building (which an apartment would have provided, with real Santa Cruz residents) and some more low-income jobs? Gee, thanks.
And I shudder to think of the thousands of gallons of water they'll be pumping into the sewer to build their underground parking garage, and the daily use of showers by the 106 hotel rooms during a time of extreme drought. What a shame that the city council doesn't coordinate with the water board or the neighborhood in approving such high-impact development.
Debora Wade | Santa Cruz
On ‘Neighbors Resist ...’
I live in the Lower Ocean neighborhood, and I don't want the Hyatt at that site. Beyond just our neighborhood, Santa Cruz will suffer for it, not benefit. Generally, I'm in favor of hotels, just not on this site. This is the first business address on Broadway, which is a residential street.
The original plans were made known to homes 300 feet from the property. How would you feel if a giant hotel replaced a Unitarian church six houses away from yours with no notification? That's what 300 feet is. I love tourist taxes as well as anyone, but the local hotel industry here has a long history of fighting their imposition, and not paying them when collected. This particular hotel isn't going to bring in more tourists, it's simply going to move the tax money around from other hotels. I know that because the owner told us that it's not a "conference hotel," which is the kind of hotel that we actually need. The "hearing" on Jan 9 wasn't a democratic hearing. It was a meeting called by the owner and the architect who controlled who was allowed to speak, and who used most of the meeting time in long monologues whining about their development and financial problems. There was no neutral facilitation of the discussion. A uniformed police officer spoke at length about the dangers of the empty lot, which was intimidating and immaterial to the question of a hotel rather than a more suitable development such as apartments.
And the tree: The reason why we have a heritage tree ordinance is because heritage trees are inconvenient. Architect Bagnell said that he tried very hard to save it, yet the file at the city contained no evidence of his attempts and he said at the meeting "The tree is dying anyway." Is it dying, or did he try to save it? Sounded like a lie to me, when I heard him say it. Sood repeated praises of her family's local history and legacy. I sincerely hope that her family's legacy is the civic memory that she murdered a beloved tree.
GOT GUIDANCE? When you ask for a sign, sometimes it shows up ... as it did for one local when he snapped this shot. photo//Charlie Price
Those Mighty Mavericks
Cheers to Grant Baker, who grabbed top honors at the 2014 Mavericks Invitational last week. It’s his second Mavericks win—he won back in 2006. Baker collects $12,000 in first-prize winnings for the victory, which remains one of biggest California surfing events. For most of the day, the waves rose between 40 or 50 feet. Others, including some locals, grabbed attention. Rounding out the top surfers: Shane Dorian, Ryan Augenstein, Tyler Fox, Greg Long and Anthony Tashnick. Catch up on all the happenings at gtweekly.com or santacruzwaves.com.
Good Thing: Big Bible—No Thump?
“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
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