Economic Vitality & Opportunity
Figuring out how to earn an income in Santa Cruz while affording the high cost of living is a challenge. Many of us drive over the hill to earn paychecks and others have become entrepreneurs, creating small businesses that employ people locally.
As a member of the city council’s ad hoc committee on economic development, I have been working with staff to present new proposals to city council that recognize current fees and regulations are not always compatible with new business models.
I want our city to empower entrepreneurs, everyone from artists to software creators, to launch their small locally owned business in Santa Cruz. Over 85% of businesses in Santa Cruz have 19 or less employees demonstrating that small business development is crucial for income earners of all levels in our community.
As chair of the city council’s public safety committee and a member of the Homeless Outreach, Proactive Engagement Services (HOPES) Executive Committee, I have spent many hours dedicated to improving public safety in Santa Cruz.
I have voted for ordinances that set standards for behavior in public spaces and have supported county and city partnerships to address habitual offenders that use an inordinate amount of resources. I support the new policing model launched by our police chief empowering officers to pro-actively work with residents in addressing challenges specific to their neighborhoods.
I have held many meetings with neighbors and through pro-active solutions, have improved the quality of life in neighborhoods experiencing nuisance and theft issues. However, we all know law enforcement alone can’t improve the situation in a significant manner without support from county and state programs. While there are good signs that counties are receiving more resources from the state to address root causes for nuisance and property crimes, I will continue to work with community leaders to lower our city’s crime rates.
Under the authorization of the Santa Cruz City Council in 2016, the Homeless Coordinating Committee was formed as an ad-hoc committee and was asked for six months to “cooperatively exchange information and identify actions to change homelessness in our community”.
Myself and two of my council colleagues spent hundreds of collective hours researching solutions from across the country and developing a better understanding of the resources each city department expends related to homelessness. As a result of our work, we put forth 20 practical action items and recommendations that were approved unanimously by council.
Some of these solutions have been implemented with positive results while other solutions require collaboration with other levels of government and are a work in progress. The goals of the 20 solutions are meant to address both community concerns and provide better options for people who seek to no longer be homeless.
Great efforts among councilmembers, city staff and community members has been put forth to address our housing crisis. I am heartened by the interest and participation of residents willing to spend hours in meeting rooms proposing solutions. The result of this work is a practical plan called the Housing Blueprint. This plan recognizes the need for more housing in our community, but it must be the right type of housing in the right place.
We need smaller affordable rental units for young people just starting out in a career or seniors looking to downsize from a single-family home. I am pleased to see city staff turn their attention to downtown as the ideal location for this type of housing. As councilmembers we must continue to express our concerns to UC Santa Cruz about their impact to rental housing availability and support their efforts to house more of their current student body on campus.
Richelle on Important Local Issues
You can find out more information about issues important to Richelle from a Santa Cruz City Council 2014 Candidate Interview.