UPDATE: The Santa Cruz City Council voted Tuesday, November 14 to approve updates to the Downtown Recovery Plan. Thank you to all of those who shared your voice. You can read more about the meeting from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here.

The Coastal Watershed Council (CWC) continues to work with the City of Santa Cruz and numerous community organizations and residents excited about bringing more positive activity to the San Lorenzo River. Together, we connect people to nature through inspiring outdoor events that teach people about the birds, fish, trees, wildlife and insects of the river, as well as hands-on opportunities to improve native habitat and monitor water quality.

What’s next for the river? That’s up to the Santa Cruz City Council, and it’s up to you! On Nov. 14, City Council will consider changes to the Downtown Recovery Plan. The newly updated Downtown Plan covers what types and sizes of buildings could be built in parts of downtown near the river, on the outside of the levee, while the 2003 San Lorenzo Urban River Plan (SLURP) remains the guidance document for how to improve the river, on the inside of the levee. The Santa Cruz Planning Commission unanimously approved these amendments after a lengthy public comment period and environmental review process. Thank you to all of you who submitted comments during this period!

CWC asks you to tell Santa Cruz City Council to approve the amendments to the Downtown Plan, as they will change our decades long approach of turning our back on the river. To ensure that these changes are a part of reconnecting a healthier river to the community, we also request that you ask for the City to provide annual updates on how the SLURP and Downtown Plan will be jointly implemented since they cover land uses adjacent to one another. These regular SLURP updates could ensure that changes to downtown benefit, rather than harm, the San Lorenzo River.

While the formal process before City Council is about approval of the Downtown Plan amendments, sharing comments that focus on the implementation of this and other plans are appropriate. This focus on implementation can ensure that your community benefits from improvements to the river rather than piecemeal efforts that neglect the river, like we’ve done for too many years. Thanks for sharing your voice for management of a healthy San Lorenzo River.

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