Bike Santa Cruz County, a local sustainable transportation nonprofit, has been looking for a new office for the better part of a year, says Director Janneke Strause.
The organization, she explains, has felt the pressures of a growing staff and also a rent increase at its quaint Pacific Avenue home. On top of that, it’s housing a bigger equipment inventory than ever, as the group expands its roster of events.
“We just have a lot of large-item stuff to do what we need to do,” she says.
And it’s been difficult, Strause adds, finding an office in the 800-1,000-square-foot range that she’s shopping in, and the ones she that has found far exceed her price range of $1 per square foot. Many require major construction improvements—more than her small staff has time for. Strause wants to find a place that is accessible via a wide variety of transportation options, like bike and transit.
Susan True, the new CEO of the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, says she sees lots of nonprofits struggling with similar issues, locally and across the Bay Area. “The whole displacement that’s happening extends to nonprofits,” she says, “as it’s getting harder and harder to find things that check all the boxes on accessibility that’re still affordable.”
Strause says Bike Santa Cruz County had an opportunity to move into the Wrigley Building on the far Westside, but that if anything the group would like to move farther southeast, as they serve the whole county. Strause concedes that the group is probably being “picky,” and even after an increase around $200, she says the nonprofit’s rent is still cheap—less than $900 a month.
But working on advocacy in the nonprofit world has slim margins, she says, even for a 27-year-old organization.
“Our costs go to the programs we have,” Strause says. “That goes to staff time, but it’s also the costs that it takes to run an Open Streets event, for example, or our Earn-A-Bike program.”