Yes in My Back Yard (YIMBY) with Evan Siroky


In this interview I speak with Evan Siroky, founder of the Santa Cruz YIMBYs, is advocating for the construction of more housing in Santa Cruz to address the housing crisis in the area. Santa Cruz County has the second highest rate of poverty in California, largely due to the lack of affordable housing. The YIMBYs are working to increase housing supply and lower housing costs. They support projects such as the UCSB Student Housing West Project, which aims to create 3,000 beds for students. The YIMBYs also support projects like the Pacific Front development, which will include a six-story apartment building with retail and restaurants on the ground floor. The YIMBYs are actively involved in attending meetings and advocating for more housing in the area. They welcome anyone interested in supporting their cause to join their organization.


Hello and welcome to episode 32 of the Beta Bay Podcast. I’m your host, Seb Fry, and for this episode, I’m very pleased to have as my guest Evan Roki. Evan is the founder of the Santa Cruz. That’s the Santa Cruz, yes. In my backyard organization. And they are advocating for the construction of more housing in Santa Cruz. Now Santa Cruz is an area that has a terrible housing crisis adjusted for the cost of housing. Santa Cruz County has the second highest rate of poverty in the entire state of California. We have an absolute housing crisis here. Homelessness is out of control. People are spending far more than they should on housing, and it simply comes down to lack of supply. Nowhere near enough housing has been built in Santa Cruz over the last 30 years, and we really need more housing. And Evan and the YIMBYs are advocating for more housing construction. So if you think that housing prices are too high and that rents are too high and that we just plain need more places for people to live in Santa Cruz, then you’ll want to sit back, relax, and listen to what Evan Roki has to say. Hey Evan, thanks so much for making the time to come on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

Yeah, thanks for inviting me. I’ve been following your podcast and yeah, it’s kind of cool to be a guest.

Alright. Yeah, we were on the radio together, it was like about a year ago or so, right over there at K SS C o, we did that show


The housing crisis in Santa Cruz County. That’s where I met you and you’re really big into helping us figure out the solution to our housing crisis. You work with the Santa Cruz NIMBYs, is that right?

No, actually. Oh, Ys. Ys.

The Santa Cruz Ys common misperception. All right. Well, before we get into all that, before we get into all the Yim Bism, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?

Yeah, so I was born in Seattle, Washington, and I lived there until I was 10 and our family moved to Wenatchee, Washington, and then I came back to Seattle for college and eventually work took me down to Portland, Oregon. And when I was in college, I got Bachelor’s of business, but I was always really in transportation and urban just city life and stuff. And so I eventually got a master’s of science in civil engineering as a way to get into the transportation planning field career area. And so I got a job out of college getting into travel demand forecasting. So this is a field where we create these regional or sometimes small scale transportation models to attempt to predict the future of how many vehicles are going to drive over this particular road. Or even you can get finer detailed and look at a particular intersection or street and see how the signal timing is going to be best timed, or if there’s this much traffic or this new development going in here, how would that affect the traffic? And so I was working on that out of college. And then just slowly over time, I just became a software developer, just inputting a lot of data for these travel forecasting models. And so I became a software developer. And then I was working at a transit agency in Portland, Oregon for a while. And I met my wife, who is from Cupertino, but was living up in Portland. Her family had moved up there. And after that we moved down to Santa Cruz.
My wife had a really good community of friends down here and liked the weather a lot better than Portland, Oregon’s weather.

So yeah, I lived in Portland, Oregon for about nine months, and I also have been to Wenatchee. As a matter of fact, my friends, his family had a summer vacation cottage up there. And so when I went to work in Alaska in the salmon cannery, we stopped off at that vacation cottage for probably three days and swam in Lake Wenatchee. It was lots of fun. Fun. Oh, nice. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. And yeah, I lived in Portland for nine months and it was too rainy and cold for me. I just didn’t really float my boat too much. So how long ago did you end up in Santa Cruz?

So we moved here in September of 2015. And yeah, so that’s about a little over three years we’ve been here.

Alright, okay, cool deal. So

How did My wife had been here for, I was going to say my wife had lived in Santa Cruz for I think at least 10 years before she was in Portland. So she’s got a little more longevity over here.

Right, okay, good deal. But how did you get involved with the YIMBYs? I mean the Yms are standing Yes, in my backyard. And I guess there’s YIMBYs from coast to coast. Is there a national organization for YIMBYs or

Yeah. Yeah. So we’ll do a little history of this whole ybi. What is ybi? So U M B as you mentioned is an acronym, meaning yes, in my backyard. And so back in probably the two thousands, it was the term NIMBY had been coined by, I don’t know who, but it was just sort of just describing someone or a group of people who were not in my backyard. I don’t want this transit project in my backyard. I don’t want a wastewater treatment plant in my backyard or I don’t want housing in my backyard. And so what happened was when I moved to the Santa Cruz area, I still hadn’t really heard of the movement yet, and I knew that housing was really expensive and I sort of just thought it was, Hey, we’re next to Silicon Valley and there’s all the tech over there and it’s expensive because there’s so much tech.
And I was like, okay, well we’re moving into it and my wife really wants to be here. And so I really was a little ambivalent about where I was living. So when I visited here, it was really awesome, really good bicycling and just outdoor lifestyle and really liked a group of friends that my wife had made. And so it seemed alright, just the housing was a little expensive, but eventually I was just curious about what the urban planning is out here in Santa Cruz. And I was actually living up in Scotts Valley area when I was taking a look at the long range plans for how much housing Scotts Valley is going to anticipate growing by in the next 20 or so years. And I looked it up and it was something like 200 units, so 10 units a year. And I was like, whoa, holy moly, housing is this expensive, but the city and all these areas are not planning for any growth.
So they’re purposely creating a housing shortage by these plans. And I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. This is not good. This is actually why housing is so expensive. Yeah, there’s tech and so people can afford these outrageous prices, but the real reason it’s expensive for everyone is that we’re just not building anywhere near enough. And so I was also around that time that I started to see some other Ybi groups, there are people calling themselves YIMBYs. And so this, I had made friends in Seattle with a transit advocate named Ben, I dunno if I’m saying his name, but he was starting to transition from being an advocate for public transit to being an advocate for more housing. And I thought that really made more sense. I was even seeing a little bit of it in Seattle of people were opposing greater densities of housing, especially next to good transit that Seattle just built.
And I’m like, this is not the way to do it. We are building these public transit routes that can carry thousands and thousands of people and we’re not allowing the urban environment to grow in a way that can best facilitate the movement of people. And instead it’d be people just driving. And there’s this whole global warming crisis going on that is at this point, the primary emissions source of carbon emissions is from private transportation. And so it just seemed very wrong to go that way. So anyways, I saw that the VY groups forming in San Francisco and Oakland, and I was following that a little bit, and it was like I got to see if there’s something in the Santa Cruz area that is maybe there’s a Santa Cruz chapter of the MB movement. So I reached out to the people in San Francisco and they’re like, yeah, he heard of one or two people saying something like that. But yeah, just you should try to find some people and start a group. And so basically I did. And so I started a Facebook and Twitter account and just started meeting a whole bunch of people, like-minded people who are also like, yeah, we need to get more housing built. There’s not enough and there needs to be more. And yeah, it’s kind of just gained steam from there.

Right on. So when did you officially, I mean, is there a charter for the Santa Cruz Airbnbs? When was that chapter Chartered?

Well, yeah, I created the Facebook and Twitter account in I think 2016 in April. And it’s always been very ad hoc and not really even in our group, we don’t have any bylaws or any real, we do have monthly meetings, but it’s always like, okay, well, we almost always agree on the, we need to support this project. And so we don’t really have a whole lot of intergroup conflict yet. But yeah,

It’s been around

For about two years. It’s

Very, very organic, essentially kind of grassroots, not like some outside pack or whatever it’s come to town organizing. You guys become agitators or anything? No,

Not at all.

How many people are involved? I mean, maybe you don’t even have a member count, but roughly would you say how many people are involved in Santa Cruz s?

Yeah, well, I just looked at our have email list, and we’ve got about, I think 250, around 250 people that have signed up for that. And so we send out a monthly newsletter and we keep track of certain projects and housing news. And then we also have an internal email list that people can kind of chat with each other. And there’s about 40 ish people that are on that. But I would say about maybe 70 unique people have attended a monthly meeting over time. So yeah,

That’s pretty good.

Right. It’s not bad. It’s not huge, but yeah.

Well, I find it so hard to get people involved in doing anything. That’s my experience. Getting people to take action is almost impossible, and it really amazes me that anybody is actually successful about getting people to do that. So I’m just wondering what kind of people are involved in Santa Cruz, YIMBYs? Are these real estate developers and VCs, venture capitalists looking to create massive apartment complexes, or who is it? Who actually is, what kind of people are involved?

It’s definitely not VCs because it might be a surprising thing to people, but it’s not always, building apartments isn’t a lucrative thing in this state, and at least not to the extent that some other things are. But yeah, Kuku comes, it’s just a bunch of various people. Our demographics are actually a little more older. We don’t have a ton of young people in our group. We’ve got just some retired people who are also aware of the housing shortage issue that attend regularly. We do have a few local housing developers that are regular attendees and just some other people in the kind of business world that are also very interested in the issue just because with businesses in Santa Cruz, it’s a major, major problem trying to attract and then retain employees because housing costs and just also just playing all availability of housing, it’s hard to even find a decent place to live out here. So they’re definitely trying to solve one of the biggest pain points for their employees. So

That’s interesting to me in a couple of different ways. The first one is that older people would be involved because I remember when we did that talk show on K S E O, people called in and they were like, Hey, buddy, the hell here 50 years ago, and I don’t want to see it change. We don’t need more housing. If they can’t afford it, they should just live somewhere else. So it surprises me. I know, yeah, it surprises me that older people are involved, but then again, I guess older people tend to have more time if you’re retired. And the second thing was that you have business people involved because I’m a member of the Santa Cruz County Business Council, Robert Singleton of course, and it seems like almost all of every meeting is talking about housing. That is the thing that really, I’m serious at least half
Of the time they spend is dealing with how do we get more housing? Because like you say, it’s very hard for businesses to attract and retain good employees if they can’t pay a wage where they can afford to live there. And then I also am reminded of what at the California Association of Realtors, we have this great guy named Joel Singer. He runs the organization, he’s like the executive officer, and he says, at some point a supply problem becomes a demand problem. We will choke off our own growth and basically reduce our income by failing to make affordable housing. So those two things that you said were really interesting to me. So I’ve seen you on Twitter and I’ve seen you on Facebook and you do a great job and you put some interesting stuff out there on Twitter and on Facebook, but all this must take a tremendous amount of your time, I imagine, or at least a pretty good chunk of it. So why is housing so important to you? You’re not getting paid for this, right? So why is it so


To you that you spend so much of your time on this?

Yeah, I mean, it’s just addiction for me at some point, but it’s made me just sad and angry just how difficult and how expensive housing is. And just hearing the stories of people since we’ve came here, a lot of, not a lot, but a fair amount of the community that we came here to be near. They’ve moved away for various opportunities, but definitely the housing cost is certainly a driver of that. But yeah, that’s kind of what motivates me. And I just put on different glasses and see things through a different lens whenever I go around Santa Cruz County and just most of California, I just see, I go through Capitola and I’m like, why is everything just two stories tall over here? And I’m like, oh yeah, zoning. They have purposely kept things small and not allowed as much housing as is needed out here. And so yeah, it just seems like, I feel like I’m almost tasked with driving this cause over here in Santa Cruz County and just being involved with this movement. And it just feels, yeah, it just sort of feel like I almost have a calling to do this, to be a little agitated on this front of getting housing built, so.

Right. I hear you. So do you think Santa Cruz is more YIMBY than most places? It feels to me like we’re 10 times more YIMBY than most places. But then the Bay Area I think is incredibly YIMBY as well. I mean, you’re not from here. What do you feel? Does it feel,

Are you talking YIMBY or nimby? Oh,

Nimby. Right. It’s more nimby, sorry, definitely not more yimby. You think San Cruz is more nimby. Are we more anti-development than most places or anywhere or everywhere,

Or what

Do you think?

Well, yeah, I do think it is more anti-development than other areas. And to a certain extent, I feel like this is a really beautiful natural environment area where that kind of thing can easily be, people have reasons that are totally justifiable. I think one of the catalysts that happened for a lot of this was way back in the late seventies and eighties when there was a lot of development probably in order of magnitude or two more than what is happening today. And so I read a book and been trying to learn a little more about this history of Santa Cruz, but one of the catalysts was Wilder Ranch State Park was going to be a massive housing project, and it was going to be something like 10,000, at least 10,000 homes. And so that was right around when the environmental movement was happening, and that whole thing was stopped. And so I don’t want to see Wilder Ranch paved over like that. And so to a certain extent, I’ve got a little bit of nims, I don’t want to see our forests turned into just sprawl or something like that, but I think it’s the pendulum just swung way too far over time. And so now even things like three story buildings are people are going turning into NIMBYs against. And so yeah, I think this area definitely is very anti-development, but to the extent that it is it just a little too much, I think.

Right. Well, I mean, I certainly don’t want to see a welder ranch or any green area really converted to low density housing, which is what they were talking about basically. I don’t want to see acres and acres of single family homes built. I certainly wouldn’t want to see that. I mean, certainly I don’t think an appropriate answer. So you think that basically, I mean, because true Santa Cruz became, there’s a lot of development going on in the seventies, a lot not that much in the eighties, I guess, because by the eighties they’d already passed Measure J, right? That came out in 78 or whatnot. So what do you think the legacy of Measure J is? Because Measure J people think of it as the affordable housing initiative, but really it was a slow growth initiative. Is that, what part does that play in where we are at today with housing in Santa Cruz County?

Well, yeah, I actually haven’t done a ton of research into Measure J or Measure O, and I feel like those things are the affordable housing requirements of requiring at least 15% of homes to be affordable that are built in the future. And I think that to a certain extent, that has stopped a certain amount of growth. But I feel like there’s more to it than just that. I don’t know if this was part of Measure J or what, but a lot of people have been here a long time telling me that the bigger part of Measure J was sort of this idea that we would stop building stuff in places like Wilder Ranch, we would have this green belt of areas surrounding our already urban areas. And so development was just off limits out there, but was going to be on limits or whatever we were going to allow denser building within our urban areas. But that second part of the deal obviously never happened. And so I think the biggest impediments I see towards housing are these zoning codes that don’t allow denser and taller buildings, but also the permitting and streamlining or not streamlined the building codes of the county and the city are also just really not allowing certain types of buildings to get built. And so I think that’s sort of my take on Measure J now as a

Newcomer. So I see that nowadays there’s been a lot of housing projects, especially for the city of Santa Cruz. You don’t see so much outside the city, but well, you do in Watsonville like guess. So Watsonville and Santa Cruz, and to a lesser extent Scott Valley, there are housing projects that are being posed and even some big ones in Santa Cruz. So what projects that are coming down the pike that you’ve heard about that seem especially cool or interesting or exciting to you?

Yeah. Well, the biggest one of course is this ucs C’S Student Housing West Project. So this is going to be a project to create 3000 beds, a net gain of 2,200. And so it’s going to create three or four, about eight or nine story buildings near the west entrance to the campus. And I think those are going to be mainly for housing grad students, if I’m not mistaken. But that’s definitely the biggest one. And we were following that one pretty closely just because such a huge need for student housing in this town. And so that’s the biggest. The other ones we’ve been tracking, there’s the A project at Pacific Front and Laurel kind of where the Taco Bell is at the corner of Pacific and Laurel. So that entire block is going to become a six story apartment building with retail restaurants on the ground floor.
And also a component of that is the developer donated part of the land to the city with the intent being that the city is going to contract with a affordable housing developer to build a hundred additional income restricted housing units there as well. But there’s even some other things that Laurel Street project is already, it was just approved on Tuesday. The student housing West still needs approvable, but there’s two other ones that I’ll give a shout out that there’s a project that we just saw. It’s called 9 0 8 Ocean, and this is proposed to be a four to three story building and taking up most of the city block that is at the corner of Water and Ocean. And also it’s taking advantage of a new city ordinance that says that you can build as many single ownership units as you can fit into a project. And so there’s going to be potentially 333 of these units going in there. And then finally there’s the Scotts Valley Town Center, which could also be somewhere in the 200 to 300 range of housing units.

And that’s going to be for senior housing up there in Scotts Valley. It’s my understanding, is that correct?

There’s actually, there’s a number of projects in Scotts Valley. I don’t think that one is going to be senior housing, but there is one that is part senior housing, part hotel, part regular housing that’s also going through the process.

Oh, right. That other one that you’re talking about is where the Kmart is right now as you’re sort of heading to filter, and I forget the name of it as well.


That’s go on.

It’s in the area. It’s actually the Scotts Valley Town Center is in the open space that’s between Sky Park and Mount Herman Road. Mount Herman Drive. So it’s between the Transit center and Kmart.

Right. Okay. So I heard that the one by the Taco Bell has been approved and that the one on Ocean Street has not yet been approved, but I also hear that the News City Council when they’re sworn in, are going to try and unapprove it. Have you heard anything about that?

Oh yeah. Well, yeah. What happened was on Tuesday, this was the very last council meeting before the New City council was sworn in later that evening for the city of Santa Cruz. And so there’s these arguments that we haven’t had enough democratic process or meetings in the five years leading up to approval of the project that maybe we should wait another month to have even more democratic process. And also a city council that’s aligning more with the progressive politics of Santa Cruz. And so, yeah, I don’t think a unapproval of the project is going to happen, but we’ll definitely be watching out for it. I mean, it’s approved right now, so they would have to go through more public meetings and I mean, it would take quite a bit of effort to unapprove that. I think what actually might happen is might be some kind of lawsuit or something that, I don’t dunno. We’ll see.

Right. Like a SQL lawsuit, good old fashioned sequel lawsuit.

Yeah. I dunno. Who knows. I’m not going to even give out any ideas.

Right. Don’t want to give any ideas. But I heard that this project on Ocean Street, which seems to me like the exact kind of housing that we most critically need, which is small, affordable units. I heard there’s quite a bit of opposition building to that already, and it’s just been proposed. I mean, why would the be people opposing the kind of housing that we definitely need? It’s energy efficient, it’s water efficient, it’s for small housing units, it’s right on a major road. In fact, perhaps the most major road in town and yet

Are already

Gearing up to fight this, which is kind of like a dream project. Why are people do you think would be opposed to something like this?

Well, ultimately you have to ask those people, but I think just the general sentiment, and I’m of course biased when I say this, but I just think they want their town to stay the same. They think it’s okay right now and adding more people, they believe it’ll cause an unbearable amount of traffic and just, yeah, they’re not in support of much change, nowhere near the amount that we hope is going to happen. So

People just don’t like change, which is, I mean, to me it’s tremendously ironic because a hundred years ago almost none of this was here. I mean, 90% of everything around here was not here a hundred years ago. So change has been happening this whole time. I mean, trying to stop change, trying to stop a train by standing in front of it, you’re not going to get too far with that. I mean, we really need to just direct and manage the kind of change and anything which fights sprawl and inefficient resource utilization is to me a pretty smart thing to be doing.

Yeah. Well, I mean, going back to that Wilder Ranch, there has been change that’s been stopped. I went to one of these NIMBY meetings and I heard a former county supervisor, Gary Patton, say that before he was elected to county supervisor, the plan for Santa Cruz was for the population to grow to 500,000 people. And today it’s still just around, it’s not even 300, I dunno, someone like two 60 or something like that. So I’ll throw it back to you. There has been significant changes to proposed changes that have occurred. So it has been possible, but I just think there’s so much pressure and we can’t have zero change, but we need to have a little more than what’s going on right now for sure.

Right. Well, a lot more, I mean, it’s a social justice issue really, right? Yeah. I mean because we’re essentially creating a society here in Santa Cruz, county of haves versus have nots, right? And


Haves people who already have, they don’t want to see any change. And the Havenots obviously do, and the future can’t look like the past. It really can’t. I mean, the whole Bay Area I think just has this suburban mindset that it can’t escape. I mean, I look at the classic example of Apple’s new Spaceship campus, this 21st century building, 15,000 people working there, and right across the street, I mean, right across the street you have Tracted houses built in the 1950s, like 1400 square foot tract houses on six and a half thousand square foot lots, literally across the street. If this were Hong Kong, those would be 40 story apartment buildings, condo complexes. And that makes sense. People could just

Shoot down

The elevator and go to work via, under a bridge that takes you across homestead or under homestead and into your wonderful transit center, which is right there in front of Apple. I mean, that would be smart, right? Oh

Yeah. But

People in Sunnyvale, which is where those houses are, they don’t want to see that. Right. I can get it. I mean, if you have a ranch house, you don’t want see a 40 story apartment tower get right built right next to you. But it wouldn’t happen overnight. It’s just we need to start planning for a future where people can live. And the thing that gets me is that, I mean, you’ve probably been to Manhattan before, I would imagine, have you’ve been to Manhattan

Just a few seconds. So I was taking a train through there and we ran up to the ground level while the train was stopped and took a picture and ran back down. That’s the extent of me being in Manhattan.

Well, if you go to Manhattan or any city that has a lot of density, I mean, there’s all kinds of awesome places. I mean, a lot of these cities are highly livable and enjoyable and fun. And it’s not a pastoral scene with cows dotting the hills in Manhattan. Of course not, because it’s not that kind of a place, but it probably was like 400 years ago. But gradually things change. So to me, the idea that high density means bad to me, it’s a non-sequitur, right? High density does not mean bad. High density could mean fun, interesting, exciting with great food shopping, entertainment options. I mean,

Oh, totally.

That’s what it means to me. But I’ll get off my soapbox. And let me ask you about this whole Measure M thing, right? So over we in the real estate community are very happy that Measure M was defeated so soundly by a 30% margin, right? I mean, it is a resounding no to rent control. Where do the YIMBYs come in on measure things like Measure M and rent control mean? Do you guys think that’s helpful or harmful for the goal of creating more affordable housing?

Well, I think the biggest thing for us was we were opposed to measure M as a group. And there was just a really huge threat towards getting more housing built with the possibility of Prop 10, also passing at the same time as Measure M passing. And so there was language in the text of the proposed Measure M that said that the rent board shall pursue rent control on all building types to the furthest extent permitted by state law. And so we, I’m sort of paraphrasing, but that’s sort of what I was saying. And so we interpreted that as the, if Measure M and Prop 10 passed, then the rent board would place rent control on new construction. And so that’d be just a complete deal breaker for getting literally anything built in Santa Cruz. And so we had to be against it for that. And so I’ll say we have a number of differing opinions within our group on rent control, but I would say rent control, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing for getting new housing built. And I think done the right way, it could actually help with incentivizing new housing to get built. Because if I think people aren’t able to make as much money on older housing, they’ll be incentivized to build newer housing and thus more housing. And so yeah, our group is really focused on the overall supply and imbalance with what demand there is. And so we’re just trying to find ways to increase the supply so that it can fulfill more demand.

Right. Well that’s great. I mean, I love the fact that you’re not too orthodox, sorry, Orthodox about any particular thing, right? I mean, that’s very pragmatic. Whatever it gets us to an increased supply is something that you’re in favor of essentially. Potentially.

Yeah. Yeah. There’s always limits to what we will support and not support. And so far we haven’t seen anything that we wouldn’t support, but there have been a number of things, even with rent control, you may be incentivized to tear down a building and build market rate if that is permitted by the law. And if you’re going to do that and get a net loss of housing, then that’s a danger of having things written that way.

Right, totally. So one thing that people are, I mean, we touched on this, I guess, that people are afraid of change and all this, I mean, people don’t want to see the town change, but what do you think it would look like in Santa Cruz County if we were to have thousands, let’s just say, because a lot of stuff on the books right now, so maybe it will result in 3000, 4,000 more small units built in the city of Santa Cruz. How do you think that would affect our city? I mean, would we have a lot more, I don’t know, traffic, smog, pollution, crime? I mean, what do you see in five years from now with 5,000 more housing units in town? What changes do you expect to see?

Well, I feel like 5,000 is a good start. We need more than that. All of California is three and a half million housing units short of where we should be according to some study. And so I think that that’d be a good start for the town. But I think ultimately just having more options and more places for people to live will free up more availability and will drive down prices a little bit, but also just create a more vibrant community of more people around and just there’ll be more businesses popping up to support this additional demand. And I do think traffic will increase a little bit, but I’m hopeful that with the advent of a lot of new electric vehicles, especially electric bikes and electric scooters and maybe some expanded transits, that it’ll be bearable. But right now a lot of people are commuting long distances to get to where they need at work. And so if we are creating enough housing near the places that people do work, then traffic will actually decrease for that part of the equation. And so people maybe walk to work or take an electric bike or just transit will actually make sense now instead of it being an hour and a half transit ride from Watsonville, maybe it’s just a 20 minute ride from or nearby in town. So yeah, I really hope Santa Cruz will grow a little more and become a little more dense. And I think it’ll be an overall good thing.

Right. Well actually become possibly a more livable city, right? I mean, where you could walk, I mean, one thing cool about this, what’s it called? The one where they’re replacing the Taco Bell Pacific Front, what are they calling it? Pacific


That’s also, by the way, right next to the transit center, right? Exactly. Exactly. Where you get a bus to uc, Santa Cruz, which is where most people where thousands and thousands of people go every day, right? I mean, it just


Really great sense. Right. And then of course, you mentioned the other transportation options, which I just want to ask you, since you said you were into transportation planning, what do you think of our whole rail cord or I mean, how do you see that playing into better transportation and housing? Do you think that we need a big train or do you think that would be better for a pedestrian scooter path?

Oh yeah. Well, this is a really interesting and a topic for me because we have people from both sides of that camp in our Ybi group. And so I see the merits of both arguments really, that it could be, it’s a training quarter right now, and it goes where a lot of people are. And so making a rail along that could definitely be great. But I come from Seattle where I’m a little apprehensive about commuter rail because of the sheer cost of it, but it’s a little different in Seattle because they have to pay a huge amount to the railway company to rent railway line for their trains. So it’s definitely much more cost effective to run commuter rail. But then I also think we could just run more buses and not spend as much capital, and then once the buses are actually at capacity and there’s literally no more possibility to put more people on a bus route than we got upgraded to rail. So yeah, I think that corridor should be some kind of thoroughfare for people to travel along. And so I could see it being commuter rail or a multi-use trail. So I think either of those would be a good option.

Either one would be better than what we have right now, which is a defunct


Corridor running through some of the densest parts of the county. Yeah, exactly. Right. Very good. Okay, so listen, I’m sure a lot of people probably have never heard of the YIMBYs, and I’m sure that probably a lot of people would be interested in participating. So how do people get involved and are there any certain kinds of people that you need to get involved? Do you need people to help you build websites or hand out leaflets or sign petitions? Or what kind of people do you want to have involved with you guys?

Yeah. Yeah, anyone really that is interested in getting more housing built around here. There’s areas that we could use help in really anything, just step on up. But we got a website, Santa Cruz, and we’re on Facebook and Twitter at Santa Cruz yimby. And yeah, we can use help hang out flyers at meetings or getting people to show up and support projects. And also just track all the process that goes into getting housing built because there’s so many layers. And then even after people get their projects approved, that doesn’t mean they get built. They still need to go through financing and construction and permits. And I’ve actually heard of a number of people that they haven’t gotten started, even though we advocated for their approval and their project is at risk or has stopped all together, either due to financing falling through or something. Like one of our project we supported, they got hit with a SQL lawsuit. So yeah, we could definitely use some help to just track all these aspects.

Alright. And that’s actually pretty important. You need people to show up at these meetings, right? At these planning commission meetings and at the city council meetings or county supervisor meetings and voice support. Because so much of what we hear at these meetings is the no crowd comes out, but the silent majority, yes, crowd, I don’t know if they’re the majority or not, but the yes crowd oftentimes does not show up for whatever reason. So listen, in closing here, we got to wrap it up. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you needed to get out there? Any messages that you want to share with people?

Well, no, I think we touched quite a bit of it, and I really liked how we were talking about planning for the future. And that’s sort of the one question I really want to ask people who are still not convinced that we need more housing. I like to ask them where are people going to live in the future? Say there’s a project that you don’t want to see in your backyard and okay, maybe you want to see two stories, but not three. Where are all the people that would’ve been on the third story? Where are they going to live? Where are people going to live in the future? And so I just really hope people will be thinking about our future and I have a one-year-old daughter and have a lot of other families that we’re friends with. And I really want us to be thinking about not just ourselves, but where’s everyone going to be able to live in the future and is it going to be affordable for them? So yeah, just something to hope other people start thinking about a little more.

Alright, very good. Okay, so Santa Cruz is where they can find you. And also at Santa Cruz yimby on Twitter and on Facebook, they just Santa Cruz. And do you guys have any other social media? Do you have Instagram account? No,


It. Those are the important ones.

And you can also send it for our email newsletter. You can follow the links on our website.

Okay. Alright. So yeah, so go to Santa Cruz and hopefully some people will hear this and join you and I’ll sign up for your email list. I’m not sure that I am, but I already have mobile notifications set for your Twitter feed, so anytime you tweet it pops up on my phone. So yeah, there you go. You’re doing great work and I really appreciate that. Over at the Santa Cruz County Association Realtors, we just modified our mission statement and we put our mission statement in there. We also want to provide housing, which is, we’ve always been for private property rights and home ownership, but now we’ve actually added the housing component into our mission statement. We really want to see more housing of all kinds of built and we recognize that there’s a crisis and that the way we built housing in the past is not going to work for the kind of housing that we need in the future. So hey, thank you so much for

Awesome. Thank you

For getting involved and moving the needle and it’s pushing a big rock up a hill. I know it’s really hard to work. Oh


So thank you for that. I really truly appreciate it

All. Thank you very much.

Alright. And thanks for taking the time to be in my podcast. I know you’ve got a lot going on, so I’ll let you get back to your family and I’ll talk to you again somewhere, someplace real soon, I hope. Alright, that wraps up episode number 32 of the Beto Bay podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to my conversation with Evan and I really love that he is somebody who is actually doing something about it. He’s not just sitting around bemoaning the high cost of housing or how nothing gets done. He’s actually going out there and making something happen and he’s volunteering and all the people in the YIMBYs are volunteering as well. So please help these folks out, show up to these meetings and be a voice for more housing because that is what we so desperately need in Santa Cruz. Alright, and before I wrap it up, I must also give a shout out to our sponsor of this week’s episode and that would be savvy seller
That’s right. Go to savvy seller to sign up for my free seminar that I’m putting on this coming Thursday, January 24th, 2019 in beautiful APTAs, California at the best Western Seacliff Inn. It’s going to be fun. I’m going to try and make it like a good time. We’re going to have some appetizers and some drinks and some door prizes and I’m going to try and have it be a fun event and very informative. So I would love it if you guys could come and meet me. It would be great to meet some of you in person. And hey, you know what? Invite a friend or better yet, bring a friend. So if you want to show up to the seminar, please register ahead of time by going to savvy seller Alright, that’s it for this episode. Thanks again so much for listening. I really appreciate it. And I’ll another episode for you out before too.

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