To create a healthy, safe, and more affordable community, in FY 2022-23 the Board of Supervisors and County staff were resilient, taking action that saved lives, created new investments in county communities, and worked to reestablish the connections, shared values, and inclusivity that will bring a better future.

Below are just a few of the many achievements from FY 2022-23. The Operational Plan provides a complete performance report.

Rail Trail Fully Funded

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved $115.8 million in grant funding through its Active Transportation Program for six active transportation projects in Santa Cruz County, including nearly 7 miles of the Coastal Rail Trail through the heart of Santa Cruz County. The State funding will go toward construction of community-supported bicycle and pedestrian projects throughout Santa Cruz County. Approximately $103.3 million will go to constructing portions of the Coastal Rail Trail. These Coastal Rail Trail projects will provide a new dedicated bicycle and pedestrian route between the City of Santa Cruz and the Seacliff neighborhood in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County. Santa Cruz County’s local Measure D (2016) sales tax provided a match to leverage the State Active Transportation Program funding.

The Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 & 11 project is being delivered by the County of Santa Cruz and received $67.6 million. The $67.6 million in funding for Segments 10-11 is the largest ATP grant ever awarded. This project is a 4.5-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail from 17th Avenue in Live Oak to State Park Drive in the Seacliff neighborhood. The project is currently in the environmental phase with final design expected to begin in 2024.“The Coastal Rail Trail is a game-changer for the County’s residents, bringing them new recreational and commuting options while helping us reduce greenhouse gasses and improving the health and safety of the community,” said Santa Cruz County Parks Planner Robert Tidmore. “This will be remembered as an important day in building Santa Cruz County’s transportation future.”

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Children's Crisis and Stabilization 
Program Grant Awarded

The Children’s Program will enable Santa Cruz County to fill critical gaps in the current youth crisis continuum of care as well as enhance collaboration with programs in the current system to reduce or eliminate repeated cycles of crisis. Currently there are no inpatient programs for youth located in Santa Cruz County. With the proposed new Children’s Program, youth in crisis will be able to be supported at a local level with stronger parent/guardian engagement rather than to being sent out of County for hospitalization.

While the target population for the Children’s Program are youth and their families seeking support for mental health crises who reside primarily in Santa Cruz County, the Children’s Program will be designed to address and reduce the behavioral health care disparities that exist for the Hispanic and Latino youth and families within the County and provide bilingual care. The new and innovative Children’s Program would divert youth who are experiencing an acute emotional and psychiatric crisis from inpatient out-of-county psychiatric hospitalization; and provide much needed behavioral health programming in the least restrictive setting. 

The County Health Services Agency was awarded $7,597,706 from the California Health Facilities Finance Authority (CHFFA) Investment in Mental Health Wellness for Children and Youth (IMHWCY) Grant Program for the project, which will be built at 5300 Soquel Avenue, repurposing a building across from the current Sheriff's headquarters. 

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Sustainability Update to
County General Plan

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The Sustainability Policy and Regulatory Update (“Sustainability Update”) will guide land use in the unincorporated area, which includes approximately half the County’s population. The Sustainability Update incorporates updated State laws and includes a modernization of the County Code, new Design Guidelines, and policies on housing production, transportation, agriculture and resource conservation, commercial development, community services, sustainable communities and environmental justice.

The purpose ofthe Sustainability Update is to create a more sustainable community in keeping with the County’s Strategic Plan, including healthy, walkable neighborhoods, a vibrant economy, enhanced transportation options and a better quality of life while reducing greenhouse gas emission, protecting the environment and fostering justice and equity.The plan incorporates “green building” features such as solar, rainwater harvesting, the use of recycled building materials and conserving energy and water. It also aims to create integrated, walkable neighborhoods through mixed-use developments and compact housing options located near activity centers, while protecting open space and agricultural uses.


Climate Action and
Adaptation Plan

The 2022 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (“CAAP”) includes a sector-based inventory of local greenhouse gas emissions and recommends goals and strategies to help decarbonize Santa Cruz County and meet State-mandated greenhouse gas reduction targets. The CAAP integrates prior County climate adaptation efforts and is designed to synthesize with efforts in other jurisdictions, including supporting a regional approach to climate adaptation planning. The CAAP includes seven broad goal areas and 29 specific strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, divided into the areas of energy, transportation, water, waste, the natural environmental, wildfire prevention and mitigation,and government operations.

The CAAP builds on the County’s prior leadership in protecting the environment, from becoming one of the first communities in the U.S. to establish curbside recycling to more recent efforts such as leading the formation of Central Coast Community Energy (CCCE), coordinating sustainable groundwater management among local water purveyors, limiting the introduction of plastics into the environment by banning single-use plastics and Styrofoam, and more. In keeping with other County planning efforts, the CAAP focuses on equity and includes Equity Guardrails to help consider how climate change and mitigation measures may disproportionately impact economically disadvantaged members of the community, including creating undue burdens on populations that do not have the means to bear them.

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Memorial Honoring
Sergent Damon Gutzwiller

The County of Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and County Park Friends began work on the memorial area of the Reimagining Willowbrook Park Project in Honor of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. The ongoing project is a dedication to Gutzwiller, a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant killed in the line of duty on June 6, 2020. Gutzwiller lived in the neighborhood and was a frequent visitor to Willowbrook County Park.

Supervisor Zach Friend stated, “This project allows for hope and a new story to be told. As we create a reimagined park filled with sounds of cross-generational happiness from children and adults playing, and reflection, love and community support at the new memorial site.” 

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Broadband Master Plan

The County of Santa Cruz received a $500,000 grant from the California Public Utilities Commission's Local Area Technical Assistance grant program. The grant will support the development of a comprehensive countywide broadband master plan, aimed at increasing access to high-speed internet for all residents and businesses.The broadband master plan will outline a strategicframework for short-, medium-, and long-term broadband infrastructure deployment, with the goal of ensuring that every resident has access to reliable and fast internet services. The public is encouraged to participate in the planning process by taking a broadband speed survey.

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Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz

County Equity Framework

The County Operational Plan commited to developing a countywide equity framework by June 2023. Over the past two years, thanks to Board leadership, the County has developed several equity tools and practices that have been applied across County systems to lead to results that reduce disparities and help all residents thrive. 

In spring 2023, the CAO will work with both County staff and community partners to align tools, practices, and ongoing equity-oriented efforts, identify gaps, and develop a County-specific definition of equity and how we hold ourselves accountable to it. The framework will be presented to the Board in summer 2023 and will be a foundational document as the County continues its pursuit of equitable results in FY 2023-24.

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