Libraries are not just buildings that house a collection of books to borrow, they are places where the community can obtain information and use it to learn, engage and explore.
Libraries today offer meeting rooms, tutoring, classes, and digital technology learning, such as classes for inexperienced users and seniors, and as we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, options for consulting digital tablets to participate in remote work and school learning.
It was so exciting to see the libraries in our Santa Cruz Public Library System as they were upgraded, renovated, and newly built, thanks to the Measure S bond approved by voters in 2016 and Friends of the Santa Cruz Library Cruz.
In the city of Santa Cruz, we have three of the 10 branches: the Branciforte Library, the Garfield Park Library, and the main Downtown Library branch, which serves as the hub for the entire system.
The plans for the new downtown library promise a beautiful library that will better serve all the varied needs of our community. We’ll also get the largest affordable housing development in the city right next to the library, with 124 new homes expected and 100% set aside for very low-income and low-income Santa Cruzans, which is a priority in our city. . The homes will be a combination of bachelor, one, two and three bedroom homes right in the heart of the downtown district.
Features of this combined library and housing project include daycare, living rooftop, outdoor library deck, residential rooftop deck, outdoor green spaces, community space, kids space, teen space , access to daylight and a net zero energy building with photovoltaic panels to convert thermal energy into electricity.
Beneath the accommodation will be a parking garage with just enough spaces to replace the over 300 spaces already set to disappear to allow for more affordable accommodation over the next few years. These include the 108 parking spaces currently on the parking lot project site and the 106 parking spaces directly across the street at the Calvary Church parking lot that will soon be transformed into 65 new affordable homes and a public paseo that the church plans to build. For more information, visit the Active Scheduling Applications page on the cityofsantacruz.com.
In the city centre, public parking works according to a shared parking concept and allows several users to use a single parking space: people who live, work, shop and visit the city centre. The shared procurement model allows for much more efficient use of space in our urban downtown.
To learn more about the city’s GoSantaCruz alternative transportation program, which is now expanding countywide, visit MyCruz511.org or your local library for more information.
I’m happy to say that in addition to the incredible benefits of the new downtown library and affordable housing project, our beloved downtown farmers’ market will have a permanent home, thanks to the city’s continued commitment. Since 2017, there have been regular discussions with the Santa Cruz Community Farmers Market, to ensure a new home is established for the downtown market on the city-owned land between Cathcart Street and Soquel Avenue. Options being discussed include amenities and covered market space to allow for greater year-round functionality.
There is no doubt that this new library and affordable housing project will increase public benefits for our community and help create a walkable urban environment. Be sure to check the Santa Cruz Public Library website for more information on the downtown branch as well as the other nine branches. Better yet, be sure to visit some of the branches in person and enjoy.
Sonja Brunner is the mayor of Santa Cruz.