By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel
CAPITOLA >> The City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to adopt a public outreach plan to consider options to redevelop the 7-acre city hall site and the Pacific Cove parking lots into a hotel, a parking structure sought for a decade, a much-requested park and new civic facilities.
Last fall, developers Owen Lawlor and Craig French proposed to build a hotel at 420 Capitola Ave., which would generate room taxes and could be a strategy to accomplish city goals such as moving the police out of the flood plain.
City Hall and the police department could potentially move to the Monterey Avenue end of the upper Pacific Cove lot.
The council declined to partner with the developers but called for public outreach.
The outreach calls for information on the developer’s proposal for a hotel in the city’s newsletter, a page on the city website with information on the proposal, a public workshop to provide an overview of the proposal and time for the public to ask questions and a survey of the community on whether this proposal or others are urgently needed to achieve city goals.
The plan will cost $3,500 for a mailed survey, $1,000 to hire Gene Bregman to develop the survey and up to $5,000 to hire a facilitator for the workshop.
Funds will come out of city manager’s account.
The committee consisted of Debbie Hale, Ed Newman, Steve Woodside, Susan Westman, Dewayne Woods, John Plecque and Joel Ricca.
“The devil will be in the details,” said Woodside, noting the committee did not want to spend too much money, fearing residents would conclude a decision had been made.
Two former mayors voiced concerns.
“It will be forced to an election if the kill switch isn’t pulled,” said Jerry Clarke.
Ron Graves, former mayor who recently stepped off the Planning Commission, said, “I think we should go ahead … and hear what the public has to say.”
He said he attended general plan discussions but “never heard anything as specific as this proposal. I never heard anyone other than Dennis (Norton) say we need a new City Hall. Nobody has involved the fire department and they’re right across the street.”
Councilman Jacques Bertrand said, “I’m very happy about the effort to educate the public.”
Councilman Michael Termini embraced the outreach plan, saying, “I was looking for something we could use as a template,” but called the development proposal “very ambitious” and cautioned, “We have to learn to know when to stop something. It may be a good idea in some form.”
A parade of neighbors unhappy the council agreed to consider a skate park at Monterey Park voiced their opposition to that location and asked about progress on McGregor Park. Public works director Steve Jesberg said soil testing is complete and construction of the skate park portion will resume Monday.
The council voted 4-1 to adopt the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network, with Councilwoman Stephanie Harlan dissenting.
A vote on police cameras had not been taken as of the Sentinel deadline.