Scotts Valley Skypark
In the center of Scotts Valley sits about 16 acres of raw land at Skypark, where a Town Center is being planned. (Randy Johnson)

I believe that envy is one of the seven deadly sins and any decent person should avoid that sentiment at all costs. But when I look at and experience the downtowns of all the other cities in the county, a little bit of jealousy seeps in.

Take the City Plaza in Watsonville, for example. Its one-and-a-half acres fosters the Strawberry Festival, Fourth of July Parades and Music in the Plaza. All this, because as a gathering place, it draws people and builds a sense of community.

Downtown Santa Cruz has it all, with shopping and an unmistakable vibe that keeps you coming back for more. Capitola’s Esplanade is a compact little playground where you can paddleboard, shop, dine and munch at Gayle’s Bakery for hours on end.

And then there’s Scotts Valley’s Town Center. Oops. Did I mention we don’t have one? Dang.

Scotts Valley is a great little city. It has fine schools. It is a safe place to live and raise a family. People in our city know their neighbors and the sense of community is fantastic. In my time on the council, staff and colleagues have accomplished a lot. We have a beautiful library, a performing arts center, wonderful parks, a community center, 1440 Multiversity Retreat Center and many other qualities that make us proud of our city.

But, if I am honest, the lack of a Town Center has plagued us and for me has been a personal disappointment.

In the center of our town sits about 16 acres of raw land, half of which, surprisingly, is owned by the City of Santa Cruz. Throughout the years, a parade of developers have swept through, promising, proposing even pandering and posturing. It hasn’t gone well. And the sum of good intentions and careful planning added to lagging economies and online commerce leaves you with a frustrating string of setbacks. Not a good place to be.

It reminds me of my junior year in college when I had a pretty stellar scholastic semester: English “A”; Roman History “A”; Economics “B+”: Philosophy “B” and Statistics “D” (and I think even that was an act of mercy). I think it’s human that we focus on our disappointments instead of our accomplishments, as I did with statistics, and here I am writing about a town center that hasn’t been built.

But hope springs eternal. How do you overcome envy and pride? Well, with some of the Seven Heavenly Virtues of course: humility, gratitude, patience and diligence. (Lots of patience.) It’s been mentioned before, but prospects are improving in our quest to build a town center. We are putting in the work. We are securing some federal grants that have to be finalized. The number of residential units is mandated to be high, thereby helping offset the risk of building compatible retail.

We have interested companies that see potential in the site and within a few months, we will test the market and gauge how real their commitment is. Our intent is to share plans and dreams with our public and hope that brighter days are ahead as we traverse this unique, unpredictable opportunity.

Randy Johnson is mayor of the City of Scotts Valley. To reach Johnson, email [email protected] or call 831-438-0633.

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Randy Johnson is mayor of the City of Scotts Valley. To reach Johnson, email [email protected] or call 831-438-0633.


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