New Home 2016 Update from Mike Ryan, Artistic Director, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Posted January 14, 2016
This is the fifth blog post in “The Quest for Our New Home” series.
I’d like to start by sending out a huge thank you to all of you who have written to the City Council of Santa Cruz on our behalf. It makes a huge difference. The city has been kind enough to pass along the letters that they have received to us, and I have enjoyed reading them and celebrating through your eyes everything that the Festival has meant to so many of you. I’m grateful and moved. While I hope to find the opportunity to thank each of you personally, please accept my blanket gratitude for now.
If you have not written a letter, there is still time to do so, and your letter can still make a huge impact. The City Council is made up of great folks with a variety of perspectives and core values; your unique personal relationship to the Festival may trigger a positive reaction for some of them in ways that other people’s letters have not. For ideas or inspiration, please see my “Call to Action blog post.”
Next, there are two very important dates that I would like you to put on your calendar. Our meeting with the City Planning Commission is scheduled for next Thursday, January 21 at 7pm at the Civic Auditorium. This public hearing is held to approve our design permits, and it is a critical step we must take prior to the City Council meeting. Though the Commissioners will be voting on whether or not to approve the permits, they will be listening to concerns from neighbors in the Prospect Heights neighborhood who are concerned about traffic and would rather see the Festival in a different location. Consequently, it is very important we have a strong support network present. We would also like to make sure that there are between 15 and 20 people prepared to step up to the microphone to speak passionately about why the city should approve our use of DeLaveaga. In the interest of time, most of these statements will be limited to a minute in length. If you know you are willing to speak, please reach out to our Communications Director, Cheryl Games, so that she can coordinate our efforts.
The second date to put on your calendar is Tuesday, February 9. This is the City Council meeting where a final decision will be made on our use of DeLaveaga as our new home. We had hoped that our City Council appearance would happen on January 26th; however, there is a 10-day window after the Planning Commission meeting wherein the Commissioners’ decision may be appealed. If it is appealed, the City Council will be the final arbiter when they hear our case for DeLaveaga. The first City Council meeting after the January 21st Planning Commission’s appeal window is February 9th. We are relatively certain that this will be the date of our hearing before the Council. As always, city emergencies or other contingencies may cause this date to shift, but barring an unusual circumstance, this will be the big day. The City Council agenda, set the week before the meeting, may allocate a more specific time for us, but we should be a part of the evening session, starting at 7pm.
The City Council Chambers are located at 809 Center Street, Room 10, in downtown Santa Cruz. Once again, it is critically important that we see a huge turn-out of supporters, and that willing folks come prepared to say a few words publicly on our behalf. Please arrive early to be seated in the main chambers. Those who arrive after the chambers are full will be sent to the Civic Auditorium to watch the proceedings on monitors. Seating in the Civic will not prevent you from being allowed to speak in front of Council, but you will need to cross the street and stand in line by the chambers to do so.
As I mentioned in my last blog post ‘A Call to Action’, it is often easier to get people to speak out about things they oppose than it is to get them to speak about the things they love and value. I am absolutely certain that residents in the Prospect Heights neighborhood who do not want us in the park will be present to say so. It would be wonderful if the majority of voices in the room call attention to the Festival’s legacy and enduring value. I recognize that asking you to reserve two evenings is a lot, but these are two of the most critical meetings in the festival’s 35 year history. A few hours of your time now will mean years of wonderful outdoor theatre to come. Thank you in advance. And Play On!
Planning Commission Meeting – Thursday, January 21, 7:00pm
Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium
307 Church Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
City Council Meeting – Tuesday, February 9, 7:00pm
Santa Cruz City Hall
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
More information and additional blog posts about our new home can be found here.