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NUZ: The Great Housing Data Gag, and the Sentinel’s Missing Piece

Who needs solutions when you have the “bureaucracy of nothingness?”

In a bold gambit to do something—literally, anything—about soul-crushing housing costs in Santa Cruz, the city council has moved to … continue studying whether they should figure out how much it actually costs to rent here.

At an Aug. 13 meeting, councilmembers debated whether to start a new rental housing database with information on rent hikes, lease terms and evictions. 

The black hole of housing data does make it tough to track local cost-of-living trends, but starting a database without any other policy changes comes off as an epic case of beating around the bush. Average rents shot up more than 11% in the last year alone, according to estimates by housing listing service Rent Jungle.

Framed as a way to build “trust” between landlords and tenants, a pilot project expected to cost $30,000-125,000 would focus on collecting data voluntarily from now forward, capturing none of the drastic rent increases reported in recent years. Now, a two-person council committee will consider launching a more robust tracking program to get good data faster.

Similar databases are a divisive issue in cities like Beverly Hills, where the local apartment association is suing the city for violating constitutional privacy rights with a plan to create a “de facto registry of residents and rents.” 

At last week’s meeting, Nuz particularly appreciated a community member’s riff on the city’s descent into a “bureaucracy of nothingness.”

If the City Council majority truly believes in just-cause evictions as a policy solution, it could pass a new tenant protection ordinance. It might wouldn’t go over well after the defeat of Measure M last fall, but it would let city staff focus on the important work of approving new housing units—seeing how we’re in a housing shortage that’s really at the root of this whole mess

Should we get moving on solutions to start digging us out of the problem, or should we sit around arguing about how deep the hole is?  

PEN IN DOUBT

Ever since late July, when crime reporter Michael Todd left the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the daily hasn’t had a full-time journalist dedicated to cops, courts or even the infamous crazy squirrel beat.

Instead, the Sentinel’s cop stories are getting covered by committee, with reporters Nick Ibarra and Jessica York picking up the slack. Santa Cruz needs those two covering policy stories, and crime reporting is a notoriously draining gig. Here’s hoping management does its job and brings another warm body into its newsroom soon.

COMMIT TO MEMORY

The Sentinel picked up the story of a legal threat against Santa Cruz, which GT broke last week, that aims to force district elections on city.

In the Sentinel article, City Councilmember Chris Krohn lamented the demise of a short-lived Charter Amendment Committee, which was gonna do the important legwork of studying possible ways to improve elections. It really is a shame. It sounds like Krohn really has a bone to pick here, and it’s about time someone starts asking tough questions!

Let’s see, who are some people he should talk to? What was the name of that guy who was instrumental in kicking the whole committee to the curb in the first place? Oh, yeah. Chris Krohn. Start with him.

HARD PASS

The Santa Cruz Warriors have hired a new head coach in Kris Weems, who had been an assistant for the team. Outgoing Head Coach Aaron Miles will be heading up to the Golden State Warriors with Head Coach Steve Kerr, which makes sense because he was Kerr’s guy to begin with. Fans of the Warriors will tell you that the last two seasons’ Warriors teams performed well in spite of Miles’ game management, not because of it.

Before joining the Santa Cruz organization, Weems apparently spent three years as director of athletics for the Menlo School in Atherton, California. If he knows how to call timeouts and make in-game adjustments, the Sea Dubs should be fine.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Johnny Cropper

    August 22, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Not only Michael Todd, but sports editor Julie Jag announced on her Facebook page that she is leaving.

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