Letter from Rick Longinotti
Just when I think the democratic process regarding a new garage Downtown has reached its lowest point, there's a new low. The previous low was June 23rd when the City Council approved the concept of a 400 space parking garage without ever receiving the Downtown Parking Strategic Plan that the City paid Nelson\Nygaard $100,000 to create. I speculate that since Nelson\Nygaard didn't support the garage, staff felt it inconvenient to bring their presentation to the Council. But staff maneuvers aside, the accountability rests with the Council members. They knew about the report and didn't ask to see it.
On Tuesday there's another test of City Council accountability. At the June meeting the Council directed staff to return to the Council within three months with "detailed financial information regarding each component of the mixed use project". The three months expire on Tuesday and there is no financial report on the agenda. How could there be? Issuing 30 year bonds to finance the garage would require some estimate of parking revenue Downtown. As Public Works Director Mark Dettle said candidly about the impact of the recession on parking Downtown, "It will be at least two years before we know what the new normal will be." Equally obscure is finding the money for the affordable housing component or the extra money needed to meet expectations for the library.
If I let myself, I could get worked up about the fact that on Tuesday the Council is being asked to approve the first quarter million dollars for the project---without seeing the "detailed financial information" that they asked for. But when I ask myself, "Where's the accountability?" I get one answer. The accountability rests with us, the voters. Will we hold the Council accountable?
Accountability is impossible without information. Will you help us send the Council Candidate scorecard (above) to all voters in Santa Cruz? We are two thirds of the way to reach our fundraising goal. Donate online or send a check to CFST, PO Box 7927, Santa Cruz, 95061. The issues in the scorecard are explained here.