City of Scotts Valley
City of Scotts Valley

As Scotts Valley tried to convince the State Department of Housing and Community Development that it’s up to the task of planning for more than 1,220 homes for people across the income spectrum in less than a decade, the report card on its last homes plan highlights inherent challenges.

In a staff report prepared for the regularly-scheduled March 6 Scotts Valley City Council meeting, Senior Planner Sarah Wikle shared data from the 5th Cycle of the Housing Element “Regional Housing Needs Assessment” period, which ran from Dec. 31, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2023.

It shows a continuation of a trend that the community has been struggling with for the past several years.

While 234 total units were built—more than the overall required 140—the vast majority of these were homes for people making “above-moderate” wages.

The State of California was hoping to see 34 units go up for people of “very low” means, and at least 17 units from people in the “extremely low-income” category.

In eight years, Scotts Valley didn’t manage to build a single one of those types of homes, and only permitted 20 “low” and “moderate” units—28 units below the minimum anticipated by the Department of Housing and Community Development.

This time around, Scotts Valley has to aim for 392 in just the “very low” category alone, to catch up for its failure to contribute to the overall mix of housing across the affordability-crisis plagued state.

But evidence of its progress in tackling this challenge head-on was also contained on this week’s agenda.

Council was set to confer in closed session about the Town Center project with City Attorney Kirsten Powell and City Manager Mali LaGoe.

Per the prior Housing Element, an environmental report prepared for 300 housing units on the 15-acre site that used to be Skypark Airport (though The Scotts Valley Town Center Specific Plan area encompasses 58 acres in total).

Scotts Valley has a lot riding on a successful roll-out of the Town Center project, as it recently counted 675 total units (191 above-moderate, 39 moderate, and 427 low and very-low income units) in its latest Draft Housing Element.

HCD has already raised concerns that Scotts Valley may be concentrating lower-income units too heavily in a single area. However, staff has since pushed back, providing additional justification as to why its plan is sound.

Scotts Valley is also facing a major hole at City Hall—as it’s currently down multiple engineers with the hunt still ongoing for a permanent public works director.

In fact, former Public Works Director Scott Hamby has come out of retirement (again) to help with some projects.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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