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City of Santa Cruz denies appeal over housing project at Food Bin site

SANTA CRUZ, Calif (KION-TV) - The City of Santa Cruz is moving forward with a housing project that would bring 48 housing units to the current site of The Food Bin & Herb Room on Mission Street.

On Tuesday night, city council unanimously denied an appeal to the mixed-use housing project at the food bin site, meaning it can now move forward

"It addresses the issue of the applicant attempting to gain more units than they are allowed under state density bonus law and thus brings the application into compliance", Santa Cruz City Councilmember Scott Newsome said.

The public hearing surrounded two appeals to the planning commission’s previous Jan 18 approval of the development proposal. Those appeals raised concerns surrounding parking, the environmental impact, and the overall size of the building.

“We're trying to make sure that the housing that we're building is not like unregulated, and that the housing we're putting out is thoughtful, and smart.” said James Mueller, one of the appellants representing Laurel and Cleveland Street neighbors.

While some people during public comment shared similar concerns, others said they’re onboard with the project and the additional housing.

“I think the barriers that people are erecting to projects like this are way too high and totally out of step for this community and it throws shade on those just looking for that housing break that they need to get ahead," said one person during public comment.

Despite the unanimous decision to move forward from council, some members expressed the process could have been done differently.

"In this specific project, a lot of what I'm hearing from the neighbors, and what we've heard tonight, is that lack of meaningful, thoughtful community engagement before it gets to the appeal process,” Santa Cruz City Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson said.

In addition to the 48 housing units, the project will also include additional commercial space.
As part of their motion, City Council also moved to prioritize tenants without cars to address those parking concerns.

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Austin Castro

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