Back in the 1970s, protests against massive projects like the envisioned Lighthouse Field convention center and a West side annexation the bring in 30,000 more people launched the Santa Cruz progressive movement.
No longer are major developments like that proposed, but neighbors still can rustle up opposition today to any sort of development -- even a 111-unit Hyatt Place hotel proposed for the Broadway-Ocean area in Santa Cruz.
For many years, city council candidates could successfully get elected on the platform of "neighborhood integrity." But when does "neighborhood integrity" look more like NIMBYism -- Not In My Backyard?
More urgently, in this time of economic challenge, the question revolves around this: what's best for neighbors and what's best for the city in general?
As the Hyatt proposal moves forward (it's due to be discussed at the May 10 council meeting), look for that very discussion. Active neighbors will fight against it. But more business-friendly folks will take a look at potential revenues for the city and argue that financial challenges outweigh any neighborhood opposition.
But there's a challenge here for business groups. There's a long history of business opposition here -- especially in neighborhoods, when a new development is proposed.
A 111-unit hotel is hardly a convention center, and Ocean-Broadway is hardly Lighthouse Field. Nevertheless, opponents have an easy time describing "neighborhood integrity." The business oriented have a tougher time arguing community wellness, which the opponents translate into "simple greed."