The following Land Use Reports have been presented on KUSP Radio by Gary A. Patton. The Wittwer & Parkin law firm is located in Santa Cruz, California, and practices environmental and governmental law. As part of its practice, the law firm files litigation and takes other action on behalf of its clients, which are typically private individuals, governmental agencies, environmental organizations, or community groups. Whenever the Land Use Report comments on an issue with which the Wittwer & Parkin law firm is involved on behalf of a client, Mr. Patton will make this relationship clear, as part of his commentary. Mr. Patton’s comments do not represent the views of Wittwer & Parkin, LLP, KUSP Radio, nor of any of its sponsors.
Abbott Square At The ZA Monday, January 4, 2016 / 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Abbott Square is located right in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, at the corner of Cooper and Front Streets. It's currently home to Lulu Carpenter's coffeehouse, prominent on the corner. Lulu's occupies the lovely brick "Octagon" that was once the County's official Hall of Records. Adjacent to the Octagon is what used to be the County Jail, now a refurbished edifice occupied by the local offices of the California Coastal Commission and the Museum of Art and History.
If the Museum gets its wish, Abbott Square will shortly be transformed. On Wednesday, January 6th, at 10:00 a.m., the City's Zoning Administrator will consider whether or not to issue an Administrative Use Permit and Design Permit to develop Abbott Square into a community plaza and public market. If the requested permits are approved, the reconfigured Abbott Square will become home to seven eating and drinking establishments (four restaurants, two food kiosks, and one bar) with outdoor seating, low-risk alcohol service, and incidental, live, outdoor entertainment.
You can get links to the staff report, and to the Zoning Administrator agenda, at kusp.org/landuse. If you think you have a stake in how the Santa Cruz downtown looks, and operates, it would be good to check out the details, outlined in the thirteen-page staff report.
We Live In A Political World Wednesday, January 6, 2016 / 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
There is an "unhidden agenda" for the Land Use Report. I am trying to stimulate listeners to get personally involved in the land use decision making process. I had such an experience myself, in the early 1970's, when I joined a community group that was trying to "Save Lighthouse Field" in the City of Santa Cruz. If you have ever been out to Lighthouse Point, located at the very northernmost point of Monterey Bay, you will know that our efforts were successful!
The success of the Save Lighthouse Point Association changed local politics in Santa Cruz, with the big change being that community residents suddenly saw that their personal involvement in local land use matters could actually make a big difference. It's still true! Hence, the "unhidden agenda" of this Land Use Report.
We are kicking off a new year, so I thought I'd highlight, this week, some of the key factors that can lead to successful community participation. Step one, often the hardest step of all, is to admit the truth of what Bob Dylan says in his rather negative song about politics: "We Live In A Political World!"
Most people don't like "politics," and often for good reason, but Mr. Dylan is right. Our world is defined by the political choices we make. And if ordinary people aren't involved in making those decisions, that world is not going to be the kind of world we'd like to have.
Good Things Come To Those Who [Don't] Wait Friday, January 8, 2016 / 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
I am kicking off the New Year, this week, with a refresher course in what it takes to be effective as a concerned member of the community, as the land use decision making process moves ahead at the local government level. Land use decisions often have a truly determinative effect on what our communities will be like in the future. So, if you care about the economic, social, and environmental aspects of the community in which you live, you should get personally involved!
On Wednesday, I pointed out that "Step One" towards effective personal involvement is recognizing that we truly do "Live In A Political World." You are going to have to be involved in local politics, if you want to have an impact on land use. That is a basic feature of American democracy, so if you don't like "politics," get over it! Let's cleanse our politics from the inside out, instead of just bitching about bad political decisions.
Here is "Step Two." Realize that "Good Things Come To Those Who Don't Wait." You really need to get ahead of the curve if you want to have an impact. You should be working on land use issues far in advance of that final public hearing. You need to decide that you care enough that you will study up in advance, so that you will know at least as much about the local land use issues you are working on as the planners do! Otherwise, they're going to tell you what is going to happen, and the public is actually supposed to tell them!
Know Your Song Well Before You Start Singing Sunday, January 10, 2016 / 7:30 a.m.
Here is "Step Three" of my refresher course on how to be effective in the local land use decision making process.
In "Step One," remember, I told you that Bob Dylan is right when he says that we "Live In A Political World." You need to be willing to get personally involved in local politics to be effective on land use issues.
In "Step Two," I advised you to reject the idea that good things come to those who wait. Quite the opposite! Get involved way in advance of what will be the final hearing. Otherwise, you won't be able to counteract or contradict what the bureaucracy is recommending, just in case what they will be recommending isn't what you think is the right thing.
Finally (to get back to Mr. Dylan), you've got to "Know Your Song Well Before You Start Singing." One reason for early involvement is that members of the public need to know more than anyone else about what is really at stake in the land use issues you end up caring about. Having an opinion, and being "opposed," or supportive, at the end of the line, isn't enough. You should be able to point to facts, what the courts call "substantial evidence."
Sing out loud and strong, but know that song well! And ... (just a reminder), community participation means you have to sing in "chorus." Community activism is a team sport. Get organized and make a difference! That's a good prescription for the year ahead!
LandWatch's mission is to protect Monterey County's future by addressing climate change, community health, and social inequities in housing and infrastructure. By encouraging greater public participation in planning, we connect people to government, address human needs and inspire conservation of natural resources.