Mayor James Reed

Despite the city having spent 20 years pitching the proposed Town Center as a commercial magnet, Scotts Valley’s new mayor is intent on leading the project in an entirely different direction.
The Scotts Valley City Council on Dec. 20 unanimously named Jim Reed as mayor for 2018, marking his third time holding the position since first being elected in 2010.
“Who knows what the future of retail is,” said Reed, in an interview with the Press Banner. “We’re entering a brave new world.”
The Sky Park Subcommittee, composed of Reed and Councilman Randy Johnson, has concluded that the Town Center land can be most realistically be utilized by building affordable homes.
The Town Center is being driven by a specific plan for the land formerly used as the Sky Park Airport. The plan calls for commercial, with some apartments and gathering area. Scotts Valley owns three parcels of the project comprising 5.89 acres. The City of Santa Cruz owns 6.96 acres.
Reed believes that retail times have changed and shoppers are trending toward buying online, rather than in person, which makes the idea of a retail magnet unrealistic.
He hopes the city can now identify developers who believe that they can make the same profit margin selling affordable homes as they could with constructing commercial spaces.
Reed, however, believes that current talks with several potential developers will yield a plan that is financially viable, while fulfilling the affordable housing shortage, and yielding public gathering places.
The incoming mayor also realizes that area residents may be wary of yet another delay.
“I would be skeptical also,” said Reed, adding that he is confident that at least one developer will make a presentation to the council this spring. “(But) this year we have the potential for the first-class Town Center we’ve been waiting on for decades.”
While attempting to fill the housing gap in Scotts Valley, Reed said he is well-aware of the fiscal responsibilities currently facing the city.
“We’ve got to continue with fiscal discipline whether the economy is ailing or strong,” he said, pointing to expenses such as rising pension and healthcare costs for city employees. “Those continue to be a drain on public resources.”
City Manager Jenny Haruyama is currently leading the charge on the city’s fiscal status, which will come before the council prior to next year’s budget talks. The current fiscal year ends June 30.
One possible outcome is to ask voters to extend Measure U, a temporary sales tax set to expire in 2021.
“If we say we need more money it won’t go for extravagances,” he said. “We have a well-earned reputation for frugality.”
Reed does expect new hotels, such as 1440 and the Marriot, to begin yielding transit occupancy taxes to the city in the near future. However, he is unclear whether even that money will be enough to pull the city out of its economic doldrums.
The City Council voted 4-1 for relative newcomer Jack Dilles, elected in 2016, to become vice mayor for the coming year. Councilwoman Donna Lind voted for Councilwoman Stephany Aquilar.

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