Friends of Santa Cruz Public Libraries
A message from
FSCPL Executive Director Bruce Cotter
Hello Friends, 

As you probably already know, we have been working with the library, the City of Santa Cruz, and groups that support affordable housing solutions, to support the mixed-use Library Affordable Housing Project because we believe it is the best long term solution for Santa Cruz. 
There are people in Santa Cruz who oppose this plan. They want the old library to be renovated and have put together a ballot initiative that would make it impossible to build the new library or construct the proposed 125 affordable housing units. I believe their arguments are mistaken. Further on in this newsletter, there is a letter from our President Janis O’Driscoll, former mayor and affordable housing activist Don Lane, and Vice Chair of the Downtown Business Association and local business owner Zach Davis. It outlines the reasons we support the mixed-use plan, and oppose the ballot initiative that would kill it. 

We all want a modern, welcoming library for Santa Cruz. So I have a few requests to make of you. First, educate yourself on the mixed-use project. Read the letter in this issue. Familiarize yourself with the city’s website and all of its information about the project, which you will find at:

Second, talk to your friends and neighbors about it. Write letters to the editor and share your thoughts. Take an active role in the discussion. Actively support the work of the Friends, and other groups, like Santa Cruz for Real Library and Housing Solutions, who are working to oppose the ballot initiative.  

And finally, and most importantly, if you are a resident of the City of Santa Cruz,  remember to vote this November against the initiative. Remember, we are all in this together.    

Thank you, 
Bruce Cotter
Executive Director

A Commentary on the Planned Santa Cruz
Downtown Branch Library Project
Stick to Santa Cruz’s downtown library and affordable housing plans: Don’t fall for ODOF’s two big mistakes

This November, voters will have an opportunity to decide the future of the Downtown Library and Affordable Housing Project by voting on a ballot measure. The visionary library project – which the Santa Cruz City Council approved following years of study and public input – includes a new central library with resources to serve all residents, 124 units of desperately needed low-income housing, a child care facility, and parking that consolidates parking lots that are an inefficient use of land.

It’s an exciting, visionary project and deserves support. The ballot measure – put forth by the citizen’s group Our Downtown Our Future (ODOF) – deserves to fail.

The new library project is located in downtown Santa Cruz at the site of the current Lot 4 parking lot, which is owned by the city and is bounded by Cedar, Lincoln, and Cathcart streets. The library component of the project is funded by voter-approved Measure S and will replace the existing downtown library. Two affordable housing developers are working on creative and innovative plans for the housing component.

The Downtown Farmers Market (that currently takes place on Wednesdays on Lot 4) will move to a nearby (but not yet determined) permanent location in downtown Santa Cruz.

It’s a clear win-win for our community.

In his recent Lookout commentary, Rick Longinotti, a leader of the ODOF campaign, disagrees. He also fails miserably to justify ODOF’s misguided effort to block the new library project.

As three people who, collectively, have a deep understanding of libraries, affordable housing, and our downtown economy, we’d like to examine two big mistakes the ODOF campaign has made.

ODOF’s first mistake was overreach. The second was building its case on falsehoods and half-truths.

ODOF’s overreach error is simple: its main objective originally was to stop a project that has already been supported by the city council, after years of public input and studies.

ODOF could have written a simple and more honest ballot initiative that said: “We the voters do not want the City of Santa Cruz to move forward with this project.” Instead, behind closed doors, members wrote a 14-page measure that prioritizes a subpar library, abandons 124 units of affordable housing, and creates bad land use policy.

Now let’s move on to the falsehoods and half-truths.

Affordable Housing

ODOF suggests its measure will generate more affordable housing. This is just wrong.

Much of the funding for the project is already secured. If ODOF wins, it’s unlikely those funds can be replaced, especially since there isn’t another site set aside for the project.

ODOF claims its plan will create affordable housing at multiple sites downtown. Affordable housing development professionals will tell you most of ODOF’s sites aren’t viable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that several of the lots are way too small.

In sum, when ODOF promises affordable housing, the promise is empty.

Downtown Library

ODOF wants to renovate the existing library and has cherry-picked from the city-hired architect’s design to make its case. The architect designed both a renovated library and a new library. ODOF wants voters to believe the architect’s work shows a renovated library will be just as good as the new one. This is wrong.

Here’s what the architect actually said about the design for the renovated library: “…the building is only improved to a low-medium quality facility and will lack many of the amenities the public has come to expect in a modern library.”

ODOF’s initiative disregards the input of both professionals and community volunteers who, over a period of years, developed a clear recommendation for a new library. The current director of Santa Cruz Public Libraries said the new library would be vastly superior to a renovated library. The retired director of Santa Cruz Public Libraries, who was serving while the plans were being considered, said a new library is clearly the best option. The highly-regarded nonprofit, Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, and the citizen-based Library Advisory Commission, have said the same.

The Farmers Market

Many of us who encountered the ODOF signature-gatherers remember how the pitch focused on various versions of saving the Farmers Market. To put it bluntly, the Farmers Market did not ask to be saved and did not ask for any help from ODOF.

Here’s what Nesh Dhillon, Santa Cruz Farmers Market executive director, said about ODOF’s plans: “We have nothing to do with this ballot initiative.” And, “We as an organization will figure out where we need to end up.”

In fact, the Farmers Market is working productively with the city to identify a permanent home in downtown. Dhillon’s biggest request is more collaboration with the city. “It’s a successful weekday market, but it would be significantly better if we had some infrastructure to support it. Thankfully, the city has been in lockstep with our needs.”

Downtown Parking

Longinotti, in his Lookout piece, argues that because city staff did not “bring” the city’s parking consultant to make a presentation to the city council, there is a lack of transparency. He wants you to believe the city council didn’t know about the parking consultant’s report.

The truth is, the city council asked for a presentation of the report. The presentation happened – slides of it are still viewable on the city website — and local media wrote about it.

In fact, the report reveals a key point that ODOF ignores, one that directly undermines its core message. The consultant writes, “Infill development and rising opportunity costs of parking suggests that there is increasing demand for consolidated, structured parking facilities over time. As with future development, the most obvious opportunity sites for consolidated parking supplies are existing surface parking lots within the district.”

Not only that, Longinotti implies the city didn’t implement the consultant’s recommendation for better parking management and pricing. Actually, the city has done exactly those things.

We believe voters need to see exactly what’s going on here.

As we move closer to the November election, we hope voters will see the very serious shortcomings of the ODOF initiative and the myriad benefits the new library project will have for our city.

Janis O’Driscoll serves as board president for The Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries; Don Lane serves as board chair of Housing Santa Cruz County, and Zach Davis serves as board vice chair of the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz.
Scotts Valley Library Grand Reopening August 6
The Santa Cruz Public Libraries (SCPL), in partnership with the Friends of the Scotts Valley Library, are excited to announce the grand reopening of the remodeled Scotts Valley Branch Library - a Measure S funded modernization.
The Grand Reopening Celebration takes place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 6th, at the Scotts Valley Branch Library, located at 251 Kings Village Road in Scotts Valley.

Opening day festivities begin with special guest speakers followed by refreshments at the Cafe, generously hosted by the Friends of the Scotts Valley Library until 2:00 p.m. Children can enjoy Storytime with Librarian Kari, participate in making crafts, and be dazzled by teenage Magician James Chan. Enjoy live music with local favorites Tim Brady of Cement Ship from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. in the Fireside Room and relax under an umbrella on the patio. 

“We are thrilled to invite the Scotts Valley community back to the Library,” Said Library Director Wilburn. “With the seismic upgrades, new roof, HVAC system, community room enclosure, and overall refresh, I am excited to see residents come together to read, learn and collaborate!”

All ages are invited to join us for the widely anticipated opening of the Scotts Valley Branch Library.

The project to modernize, upgrade and repair local libraries in Santa Cruz, Aptos, Live Oak, Scotts Valley, Boulder Creek, Capitola, Felton, and La Selva Beach -­ replace failing roofs, outdated bathrooms, electrical systems, and structurally damaged facilities; support growing use by children, seniors, veterans, and others; expand access to modern technology and construct and expand facilities where necessary was made possible by Measure S. On February 11, 2016, the SCPL Facilities Financing Authority placed a $67 million bond measure (later designated Measure S) on the June 2016 ballot. With 70% approval, voters agreed to fund Measure S. 

We proudly support: