Our Quest for Our New Home: Application Submitted

mike_headshotNew Home 2016 Update from Mike Ryan, Artistic Director, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Posted October 6, 2015

This is the second blog post in “The Quest for Our New Home” series. In the first post, I talked about the Park’s Department’s RFP (request for proposals) and the various considerations that went in to selecting DeLaveaga as our choice for SCS’s new site. In addition to recounting our win on the RFP, it documents a number of other sites we considered for development. This month, however, I want to kick the blog off with the announcement of a very significant milestone: our application to the city for the use of DeLaveaga has been submitted!

This has been a huge effort and while thanks can and should go out to many people, I want to particularly thank Rick Wright, the board member who chairs the Site Committee, and Aimee Zygmonski, our managing director. Those two have been working tirelessly since the start of our summer season to coordinate, with the City’s help, all of the elements that have gone into this newly submitted proposal.

TechBoothElevation

Proposed Technical Booth for stage management to “call” the show.

Rick’s primary focus has been on the design plan of the new site. He has been working with Robert DeWitt and Associates, a Hogan Land Services Company. Together, they have created a land survey, a footprint for the stage structure and backstage area, the tech booth, the seating area, audience services, temporary dressing rooms, and parking. Each of these areas is covered by detailed plans for soil grading and storm drainage, sewage and water, and electricity. This is the backbone of our application package as it explains fully what will be built and changed at the site to make this place a theater. Many hours of consultation with festival artists and technical staff went in to preparing these plans, ensuring that what we build will meet SCS’s artistic needs for years to come.

Aimee, meanwhile, has been organizing all of the necessary studies that measure the impact we will have on the site, the larger park, and the neighborhoods nearby. These studies include a biotic report, a bird study, a traffic impact assessment, a cultural resources review, and a noise assessment. It was critical to get these studies done while we were still in performance at the UCSC campus so that the various experts could attend shows and get real numbers and measurements. The City will ask its own experts to review these studies to make sure they were conducted thoroughly and accurately, but I have been incredibly heartened by the results so far. We are incredibly indebted to the Packard Foundation, who awarded us a grant to help cover the costs of these studies.

Rick, Aimee, and I have teamed up for the final part of the application, a narrative that will provide City Departments, and ultimately the City Council, with a written overview of the project. The overview contains a history and description of the festival, including a comprehensive list of programs we provide. It lays out a proposed performance schedule for the summer of 2016, and includes logistical plans: traffic and parking mitigation, emergency protocol, and sensitive habitat stewardship. Finally, it points out the various policies, goals, and action items that the approval will satisfy in both the Arts Master Plan and the City General Plan.

Now that the package is in, we have set our feet upon the road to a City Council vote. The timeline, as it has been explained to us, will go something like this: four to six weeks from application submittal, the various City departments review the plans, studies, and narrative. They flag anything that they have questions about, needs clarification, or causes them concern. These issues are brought to our attention, and we have the opportunity to address them, providing additional information or making changes as needed; after all of the Departments have had the chance to weigh-in, the full plan will be made available to the public for a thirty-day comment period. During this time, the studies, along with a report from the city, are sent to the State of California for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review. The State will also have thirty days to respond to the application. Once the public and state have weighed in on the plan, the City Planning office will put together a summary of those responses for City Council, and they will have a couple of weeks to review those responses and the plan before it is put on the agenda for a vote.

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Current proposed theatre layout, which now includes a center aisle and along the sides, groundling “boxes” for lawn chairs or blankets.

As you can probably tell, there is quite a bit of variation in the timeline and much of it will depend on the response from city and state agencies. At the earliest, we are looking at a city council vote in December. Most likely, we will not make the agenda until January, and the chance exists it may be as late as February. We have done our best to mitigate these delays by having regular meetings with City Planning and various city departments including the Fire Department, Police Department, and Public Works, so we feel confident that we have already been able to address many of the questions they have about the application. I will absolutely keep you up to speed with our trajectory as we move through the process and learn more.

If you have been chomping at the bit to do your part for Santa Cruz Shakespeare and the application process, never fear! The time for action will soon arrive. We will want you to lend your voices to the cause at the community meeting that will be held to kick off the thirty-day public comment period. We will also want you to write in about the plan when it is open to review, as well as writing to your city council members as the vote nears. Make sure to check the website, follow the blog and our Facebook page, and sign up for our news updates so we can provide you with exact dates as we learn them.

As you can tell, this is a very exciting time, and though the work has been intense, I can’t help but feel like it has the makings of an incredible story. I’m looking forward to your part in it.