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Beyond The CZU: The Planning Department Culture Affects Us All





“The current supervisors have become too complacent with government as it exists,” said Fredericks, who said the planning department is “the most universally acknowledged problem” in county government for homeowners. “I don’t want a candidate who knows how to navigate government as it exists. I want someone who won’t settle until change occurs. The planning department needs serious work to change their culture.” 


The issues and the culture of the planning department is something I have spoken to since day one of this election. We will not change the culture of that department by doing the same things, electing "insiders" or not understanding the on-the-ground effect this has on the families in this district. I know Catherine from the article personally, and so many others like her, who are no closer to rebuilding than they were in 2020. This is a travesty, and more importantly, it didn’t have to be this way.


This is not an issue that just affects those who lost their homes, it affects us all. Losing over 900 homes in our housing inventory made our housing prices and availability that much worse. It has led to a higher cost of living, and we have all felt that. The county has lost precious property tax revenue to help with our deficits. I’ve talked to local businesses who have told me how much their business has decreased after the fires, leading to less funding from taxes for our special fire stations. And the consequences don't stop there.


The culture of the planning department deters people from engagement because of fear, so folks do things without permits. This can potentially lead to things being less safe; this is especially ironic considering the County uses safety as reasoning for their overzealous approach.  We must move away from a culture of “No” when it comes to building, and cultivate a culture of supporting our community -- especially those most vulnerable, like fire and storm disaster victims.


If the culture in the county and the planning department is going to change it has to start with electing the right people. And I want to make sure that I am clear. There are so many wonderful people down in the county doing their absolute best to serve our communities. And lets face it, those workers are what keeps our government going for all our benefit. I have taken so many calls and emails, countless at this point, from people who work in the county right now and across all departments who want me to take that seat because they are also wanting this shift in the culture. And they feel that I am the best choice for that change to happen.


With collaboration and compassion, we can rebuild a government that works for all people. Together we'll create a Santa Cruz County that's more resilient, equitable and responsive to its citizens' needs.


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