It’s our town, our culture, and we can make it ours again
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Willie SaySo is a writer, performer, and producer of multimedia and events, residing in Santa Cruz. An active freelance contributor to ScreenRant, Will is known locally for almost a decade of producing community events, musical performances, and active community participation.
Santa Cruz is an oasis of creativity and culture in the redwood mountains, a select
group of artists and visionaries who’ve joined together to create a community as
bright and individualistic as its unique denizens.
Yet this bustling creative environment hasn’t gone unnoticed to monied interests,
and with staggering unaffordable property values and cost of living there’s a stark
division of classes living in close proximity. The struggle between landlord and tenant, artist and venue owner, server and restaurateur is very real and present in our everyday life.
Nowhere is this conflict more present than on City Council, where elected representatives share the stage with one another.
This oasis thrived because we fed it our intentions. The only thing that separates an oasis from a cesspool is how we treat it.
In 2018, when the working class gained a majority of representation in City Council, developers and real estate companies and organizations waged a power play by launching an abhorrently disingenuous recall against two progressive Councilmembers who pledged to care for the city’s most vulnerable residents. It worked, and monied interest now dominates our Council with a 4/3 lead; and though he ran as a progressive, Mayor Justin Cumming’s disappointing voting record tilts the spread closer to 5/2.
It’s only because of this majority that the Parking Garage Library (PGL) was voted through by City Council.
First, we should all understand what the PGL represents. There isn’t a shortage of
parking in downtown Santa Cruz currently, yet this project promises to add 400+
parking spots, in spite of the fact that businesses downtown are
closing in record numbers. This project isn’t for our current needs, but rather in support of a future Santa Cruz as envisioned by those who think only of profit. While our town, built by a culture of ragtag misfits, has become one of the most enviable spots, developers and outside venture interests have every intention to slaughter the golden goose for its eggs. We already know Santa Cruz isn’t what it was only five years ago. The same forces that wish to control our city’s destiny for their own profit hope to alter it further.
The citizens of Santa Cruz have spoken out against this project, but the monied interest has made it clear that our voices pale in comparison to tourist and Silicon Valley wallets.
Councilmember Sandy Brown lamented that there was never a starker
distinction between the voiced opposition the Council received and the Council’s
vote to pass the project. Even Sentinel columnist Stephen Kessler, a cheerleader for monied interests in every other way, called the project outright corruption. It was a contract written up in backroom meetings, that thoroughly took advantage of the Santa Cruz electorate’s wishes, when they voted for Measure S, to upgrade and fix their libraries. Above all else, it’s the tourist industry and the influx from Silicon Valley that matters– beyond our desire for renovation, beyond our need for housing, beyond the vibrant ecology and community that distinguishes our fair city.
They believe they can get away with it, because our city has been leading to this
for the better part of a decade. Gone are the co-ops, and with them the
activists and artists. With them, they hoped, went everyone who cared about the Santa Cruz community. They’re banking on their costly gambit to make us roll out the red carpet so they can bulldoze over everything we’ve worked so hard to
Only we can tell them no.
This election is about so much more than a parking garage or library could ever
represent on their own. This oasis thrived because we fed it our intentions. The
only thing that separates an oasis from a cesspool is how we treat it.
Bring life to Santa Cruz with a breath of fresh air. Vote for Sandy Brown, Kayla
Kumar, Kelsey Hill, and Alicia Kuhl.