Economic Vitality & Opportunity
Santa Cruz is fortunate to have a strong diversified economy, drawing on a range of sectors that reflect the amazing diversity of our community’s culture, talent and resources. As a council member, I’ve worked hard to support conditions for successs so our local businesses and institutions can thrive, and I will continue to make this a priority.
Over the past four years I’ve worked on constructive partnerships with local businesses, including service on the Beach Trolley Consortium and the non-profit that oversees the Hospitality/Ranger program downtown.
Over 85% of businesses in Santa Cruz have 19 or fewer employees, demonstrating that small business development is crucial to our economic vitality and community character. As council member, I’ve championed plans to streamline processes and provide technical support for new businesses and emerging sectors.
Arts, tech, active lifestyle, environment, education, food and beverage, tourism, health and wellness – all of these and more are essential parts of our jobs and economy. I’m committed to supporting the creativity, talent and sense of community that makes our city work.
Public safety is a core responsibility of local government. As councilmember I‘ve been a strong, consistent supporter of community-based public safety services, and I’ve championed the search for effective new approaches to the challenges we face – especially the often-interwoven issues of petty crime, addiction, and mental health.
I believe we need to maintain standards for behavior in public spaces; I also believe we need to improve our county-wide resources for intervention and treatment. I’ve supported county and city partnerships to more effectively address habitual offenders who use an inordinate amount of resources.There are good signs that counties are now receiving additional state resources to expand services..
As a member of the council’s Community Services Committee, I’ve also supported partnerships with local non-profits who provide much of our community’s preventive, treatment and rehab services.
Community members deserve to feel safe in their homes, schools, parks and workplace settings, regardless of their neighborhood. It’s been gratifying to work with neighborhood groups to bring about positive change – everything from creating safer streets to dealing with chronic nuisance properties. I will continue to work with community leaders to make our community safer.
Under the authorization of the Santa Cruz City Council in 2016, the Homeless Coordinating Committee was formed as an ad-hoc committee and was asked for six months to “cooperatively exchange information and identify actions to change homelessness in our community”.
Myself and two of my council colleagues spent hundreds of collective hours researching solutions from across the country and developing a better understanding of the resources each city department expends related to homelessness. As a result of our work, we put forth 20 practical action items and recommendations that were approved unanimously by council. Some of these solutions have been implemented with positive results while other solutions require collaboration with other levels of government and are a work in progress. The goals of the 20 solutions are meant to address both community concerns and provide better options for people who seek to no longer be homeless.
Great efforts among councilmembers, city staff and community members has been put forth to address our housing crisis. I am heartened by the interest and participation of residents willing to spend hours in meeting rooms proposing solutions. The result of this work is a practical plan called the Housing Blueprint. This plan recognizes the need for more housing in our community, but it must be the right type of housing in the right place. We need smaller affordable rental units for young people just starting out in a career or seniors looking to downsize from a single-family home. I am pleased to see city staff turn their attention to downtown as the ideal location for this type of housing. As councilmembers we must continue to express our concerns to UC Santa Cruz about their impact to rental housing availability and support their efforts to house more of their current student body on campus.
I support Measure H, the countywide ballot measure that will create a LOCAL source of revenue to support affordable housing throughout the county.
Richelle on Important Local Issues
You can find out more information about issues important to Richelle from a Santa Cruz City Council 2014 Candidate Interview.