Why So Many Multifamily Buildings Under Construction in Santa Cruz County? 


And what about all this building activity? Did you know: Since 1969, California has required all jurisdictions to plan and meet the housing needs of all people in their community? Clearly there are a few unmet housing needs as our housing shortage and affordability issues are easy to see both locally and statewide. Welcome to the Santa Cruz County 6th Cycle Housing Element new cycle starting January 2023. 

  • Based on “Regional Housing Need Determination, there are mandated increases for the housing supply in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County (and all counties in the state) to meet housing needs. 
  • The housing supply increases for the Santa Cruz County and cities are as follows, see here for the income group allocations within each city and county:
    • 1336 units Capitola
    • 3736 units City of Santa Cruz
    • 1220 units Scotts Valley
    • 2053 units Watsonville:
    • 4634 Units Unincorporated Santa Cruz County


  • TOTAL 12,979 units built over 8 years for the entire county of Santa Cruz:
    • 1622 units built / year
    • 135 units built / month
    • 4.4 units built / day for 8 years. 

 Here are additional aspects of our planning department that will look different quite soon: 

  • You will likely see Rezoning for Sustainability like never before, focusing on areas near public transit and other amenities. 
  • State law from 2018 mandates a focus on the city’s fair housing practices with a focus on transforming impoverished neighborhoods of racial and ethnic people.  
  • Legally mandated public outreach will give you, if interested, the opportunity to be involved in shaping our community housing policy for this cycle. You can sign up for the emails from the county to be involved. 

This is no casual event. Some of the questions we need to explore: 

  • Do we have enough water to support this increase in housing and population? 
  • How are we going to fund this amount of development? 
  • This is a mandate to build 135 units / month for 8 years. Is that realistic? 

What happens if we don’t submit an acceptable plan to the state to meet these goals?  Well, it’s simple. By not complying, the county, in essence, transfers it’s land use control to the state and is at the risk of being sued. Noncompliance gives the state the right to mandate streamlined approval of some housing projects meaning city and county leaders have limited power to change projects. The state can also cut off access to state housing and transportation grants to the county. 

Stay tuned for updates on the progress and strategies that the future will bring forth. You can reach Christine at 831-600-6550 or schedule a meeting on her calendar if you need help with your real estate or want to chat. 

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