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City Officials Deliver First "State of the City"
The City of Santa Cruz hosted its first “State of the City” event on Tuesday, May 17, at the Paradox Hotel. The event featured a welcome and introduction by Mayor Cynthia Mathews, an overview of quality of life issues by City Manager Martin Bernal, an update on hotel and affordable housing projects and new online tools for businesses by Planning Director Juliana Rebagliati, and a presentation of Economic Development’s new program “Plan, Permit, Launch” by Bonnie Lipscomb, Economic Development Director.
While the City is hosting four “City Hall to YOU” neighborhood events for residents this year, the State of the City Report was the first-ever of its kind for the City of Santa Cruz, initiated by Mayor Mathews specifically for folks who do business in Santa Cruz. “Applications for new business licenses have been on a significant upward trend for the past three years,” noted Mayor Mathews, “during that time the City has made a lot of investments in making Santa Cruz an attractive place to open or grow a business – so this felt like the right time to both share and celebrate Santa Cruz’s business community.”
Along with sharing emerging and growing trends in local businesses, the event also focused on some of the challenges facing local businesses – like the lack of housing for their employees. Planning Director Juliana Rebagliati shared that there are currently 500 housing units approved for construction, and another 182 units proposed. Ms. Rebagliati also shared that there are 801 new hotel rooms coming on-line, due to remodels of existing hotel properties, as well as to development of new hotels.
The sell-out breakfast was the first of its kind in Santa Cruz, but it doesn’t appear that it will be the last. Attendees were enthusiastic about the content of the presentations, also about the opportunity to interact with the Mayor, councilmembers and key City staff. In responding to an evaluation of the event, one respondent wrote offered that "this was a good use of my time and I learned several new things about the business climate in Santa Cruz that I didn’t know before."