Effort to reduce Santa Cruz homeless camps sees mixed results

STEPHEN BAXTER – Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted:   08/29/2012

SANTA CRUZ – Tucked in the bushes near the southbound Highway 17 approach to the Fishhook, 45-year-old Thomas Delfino camped in a tent under a brown tarp on Wednesday.

As cars whooshed by the highway and the sun beat down, Santa Cruz police Sgt. Dan Flippo and three officers confronted Delfino.

A mountain bike lay nearby with its serial numbers and frame painted black – common features of a stolen bike. Two old laptops and four bike wheels were in the tent, surrounded by dirty sheets, empty soda bottles and a stench from a pile of used toilet paper a few steps down the trail.

Delfino, looking sullen, talked to the officers with familiarity. He said he was no longer using heroin, but he still used meth and marijuana.

He said he wanted to stay clean so that he could see his daughter and his girlfriend’s family. “But I got high the other day,” Delfino said, squinting into the sun.

With an outstanding warrant for possession of drug paraphernalia, he was searched, handcuffed and taken to County Jail. Police would later call Caltrans to clear out the camping gear and trash – minus the orange-capped syringe that Flippo found near the tent.

In the nearly seven weeks that Santa Cruz police have cleared out illegal campsites such as Delfino’s around Santa Cruz, Flippo said Wednesday’s find was common.

Most of the people they have contacted had problems with drug and alcohol addiction, yet most of them left after a 72-hour notice.

Police and some residents said the program has made great strides in cleaning up trash in roadside camps, creek beds and other areas. However, police said it might have shifted some illegal campers to areas in Felton and places outside the city.

Some homeless advocates said it was not an overall, long-term solution.

“I think it’s been successful in dealing with the areas that have been heavily impacted” by the homeless, Flippo said. “The emails we’ve been getting have been overwhelmingly positive in terms of sites being cleared. It’s a piece in the puzzle.”


In early July, Santa Cruz police started the program mainly in response to complaints by residents of trash and safety problems in areas such as the San Lorenzo River levee, Branciforte Creek and Pogonip.

A fire in Pogonip in April also was traced to transients. Environmental concerns grew, police spokesman Zach Friend said at the time.

With help from city public works and Caltrans, police launched a 4-6 week pilot program to clear out the camps and arrest those involved in criminal activity.

As of Aug. 20, police cleared out 54 illegal camps and identified 159 camps. Police typically ticketed people for illegal camping upon first contact, then posted notices that they had to clear everything out in 72 hours.

Authorities found some of the camps were large hangouts for drug users, such as a wooded area near the offramp from Highway 1 to northbound Highway 17, Flippo said.

The train tracks below Bay Street also was a hot spot, where neighbors were annoyed by late-night noise and drug use. At a marsh near Jessie Street and the San Lorenzo River, police said they found a camp with two mattresses that had been used for prostitution.

Camps also were dismantled between Highway 1 and the Santa Cruz Memorial Cemetery at Ocean Street.

“That used to be a go-to spot for a long time,” said officer Ron Inouye, who has been working on the project. “But now, nothing.”

Some police believe the homeless had congregated in wooded areas near Highways 1 and 17 because it’s a convenient spot. They can panhandle for money on Mission, River or Ocean streets, get food from churches and other food pantries, then buy drugs from dealers in the wooded areas.

Their walking or biking radius is only a few miles, Flippo said.

Since the program started, police said the camps have shrunk from large, established campsites such as the one near the Fishhook to smaller, more mobile sites.

Volunteers and city workers also cleared brush along with the campsites at the San Lorenzo River levee, and some say the change in the past month is striking.

However, police said they had heard more reports of homeless in areas in the San Lorenzo Valley. They were starting to work with the Sheriff’s Office on it, Flippo said.

When police approach a camp – often identified by residents’ complaints – they typically ask occupants if they are familiar with shelters such as the Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center on Coral Street.

Flippo said officers carry cards with information about drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, food pantries and other programs.

“We try to explain the services available to them,” Flippo said.

He estimated about one third of the people they’ve contacted in the project used the services, about a third of the people didn’t use them and a third said they didn’t want them. Many of the programs don’t allow drug use, and they are admitted drug users who don’t want to participate, Flippo said.

Others said the shelter is full, which it often is. Or they said they don’t want to go there because of “drama,” Flippo said – often related to the lines and cluster of people.


Although homeless advocates said they appreciated the environmental improvements in the project, some wondered about some unintended consequences.

Similar cleanups have happened recently elsewhere in the state, said Peter Connery, vice president of Watsonville-based Applied Survey Research. The firm conducts a homeless census in Santa Cruz County every two years. There were about 2,770 homeless in the county in 2011.

Really, breaking up encampments has gone on “forever in the history of noiselessness,” he said.

“It’s not a strategy. Folks aren’t going away, they’re just moving them around,” Connery said.

When police force them to leave, many people lose their belongings, identification and paperwork that helps them access services, Connery said. Also, if the camps are pushed into the woods in the San Lorenzo Valley, for instance, that could lead to problems there.

“They get put into unfamiliar and more crowded surroundings that could exacerbate mental health problems,” Connery said.

“It’s just tough, and they just don’t have a lot of alternatives. There’s absolutely insufficient resources in Santa Cruz County to make things better,” Connery said.

Flippo countered that the project essentially was a small solution to a larger, more complex problem.

Standing near Delfino’s campsite off Highway 17 on Wednesday, Flippo noted that Delfino had been to several drug treatment programs.

“How many times do you send people to a treatment program? What’s the next step?” And how many victims’ (items) were in that tent?” Flippo asked.

“It may not be good for him,” he said of the program. “But it’s good for the neighborhood.”

Big SoMa homeless camp cleaned out

Kevin Fagan
SF Chronicle – Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To most people, the giant homeless encampment at Fifth and King streets was invisible. At most, some could catch a glimpse of tents from the Interstate 280 on-ramp, or from a railcar pulling into the nearby Caltrain station.

But nearby residents and shopkeepers knew exactly what was under that I-280 on-ramp – a sprawling mini-city of tents, suitcases and makeshift Conestoga wagon-style trailers, and a 50-strong homeless population that had been there for years. It was the biggest street camp in San Francisco.

Until Tuesday, that is.

At 8 a.m., an army of police officers, city cleaning crews and street counselors descended on the block-long settlement, and by noon tons of clothing, tents, boxes and trash had been cleared out, either to city storage lockers or disposal bins. City workers said that by Wednesday evening they hope to have it cleared down to bare dirt for the first time in at least three years.

The cleanup was a dirty, complex job. Several campers were methamphetamine addicts, forcing crews to use grabbing tools to pick up used needles before it was safe to clear smaller garbage.

“This camp has always been a real mess,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Sarah Wrathall, watching workers with breathing masks sort debris. “There’s a lot of rats, a lot of excrement, a lot of waste.”

City homeless outreach counselors, meanwhile, waded into the crowd. By the end of the day, they had gotten 10 people into temporary housing and on track for permanent supportive residences.

“I can’t believe I get to live inside again,” said Brenda Clark, 48, sitting by her chest-high mound of belongings and waiting for a van to take her to a city-funded residential hotel room. “I got evicted from my last hotel in April, and I didn’t know where to go, so I wound up here.

“I can’t wait to have a real shower,” she said with a toothless smile.

Bevan Dufty, point person on homelessness for Mayor Ed Lee, said the ultimate goal of the joint effort by the various agencies that carried out Tuesday’s clearance was not just to bounce street people down the block to make the area prettier.

“Our objective is to go in and start engaging,” he said. “I have enormous faith in the outreach team, and we will be going back again and again to that spot to help people with housing and services.”

Dufty said he was encouraged that this month, the Board of Supervisors allocated an extra $3 million for homeless shelter, housing and counseling.

The camp has been regularly visited for years by city police, CHP officers including Wrathall, street counselors and officials of the California Department of Transportation – which owns the on-ramp – and partially cleared out every month.

But lately it had grown to include a community garden, a bucketful of dead rats and a fire pit for melting rubber off salvaged or stolen wiring to sell for recycling. The various agencies determined it was time to move in.

Because campers tore out thousands of dollars of cyclone fencing under the on-ramp to set up tents, Caltrans’ plan is now to install a more durable barrier to try to keep them out. That fence will probably cost about $200,000, said Caltrans spokesman Steve Williams – but even then, the agency knows campers will be back.

“You clean it out today, and they’ll back tomorrow,” he said. “We’re just trying to remediate the problem as best we can.”

Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, said that until the city has enough housing to readily supply to every homeless person, clearing out camps is just harassment.

“There’s no point to it,” she said. “With nowhere to go, all you’re doing is dispersing people.”

“I’m sleeping here tonight as soon as these guys leave,” said Tasha Ward, 21. “They’ve got too many restrictions inside, and I want to do my meth and mind my own business.”

Santa Cruz Eleven brace for a long, dirty fight

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

August 20, 2012

Original Post

Santa Cruz, Ca. — Sunday had been upbeat. Defendants and their supporters met on Seabright Beach for a bonfire and cookout. Anyone strolling down the beach would see what looked like a relaxed, peaceful gathering of beach-goers — as all-American as apple pie. Few would guess it was a gathering of eleven people charged with felonies and their supporters fitting in one beach cookout on the eve of what all hoped would be a long-awaited dismissal of specious charges.

However, Monday morning in Judge Burdick’s court that was not to be.

This wasn’t to be the long postponed preliminary hearing. Burdick had cancelled that on Friday. Instead, assistant DA Rebekah Young appeared in court with DA Jeff Roselle and DA David Sherman. Over the weekend, the three had worked to create an evidence list of 13 videos, over 600 photos, a copy of the lease, and the police reports. They purchased 7 hard drives for the seven lawyers representing the seven remaining defendants, including the author. It must be nice to have an unlimited budget.


Young was also able to deliver via e-mail the billing sheets for damage alleged to be caused by defendants.

One look at them confirmed why Young had dragged her heels on releasing the documentation for the “vandalism.” Billing sheets had outrageous amounts billed with few details as to what services had been rendered totaling over $25,000. And not a single contractor from Santa Cruz County was hired.

For instance, Wells Fargo manager, Alicia Bucher hired a San Leandro firm to remove furniture damaged beyond repair. The cost? $6,545.41.

Last December, when the SCPD had shut off power and water to the building, protestors had made a make-shift bathroom in a utility closet. The cost to ” remove biohazard” was $6,222.83! The shit heard ’round the world?

Bucher hired a Richmond firm to “detail clean” the property. Protestors report the building was far from pristine when they first entered the building, not having had a tenant for 3 1/2 years, or seen an agent showing it to a potential client in months. The bill? $2,988.00.

She hired a locksmith in Foster City to rekey the building. While protestors used a key to enter the front door, and presumably only had access to the external doors, Bucher opted to have every lock and key replaced in the entire building and at after hours costs totaling $2,430.19.

Despite each and every billing sheet appearing to be padded to the maximum, there was no billing sheet for the graffiti on the air conditioning ducts on the roof of 75 River Street. This is surprising because this was the only damage for which photographic evidence exists. In over 600 police photos turned over to defense attorneys, no other vandalism has been documented.

There are no police photos of any “bio-hazard.” No “broken furniture.” No before and after photos after $2,988.00 worth of cleaning had been completed. No evidence any locks other than those the stolen key fit needed to be replaced. And why did the locksmith ONLY work after midnight?

This is a ridiculously padded account done to foster the claim protestors were out of control vandals rather than concerned activists trying to highlight the waste and blight left in Wells Fargo’s wake for leaving that building empty so long.

Defendants are also being asked to pay for the external fencing which Wells Fargo should have put up before the demonstrators occupied the building.

Why were no local contractors used?Instead Wells Fargo manager, Alicia Bucher contacted and hired contractors from as far away as San Leandro, but not a single Santa Cruz County business benefitted. Bucher herself has an East-bay area code, and no ties to the local community.

Could it be Bucher only used contractors she could manipulate to produce whatever paper-trail she desired? What does that say about Wells Fargo’s integrity generally?


Lawyers, judges, and deputies get paid for what they do. Defendants do not.

“I missed my grandmother’s funeral,” Angel Alcantara revealed. “Her funeral was Friday in Fresno and I had to be here.” How do you put a price on this?

The case grinds on; despite little evidence against those charged and no evidence of vandalism committed by any of the defendants charged,

“It’s a weak case,”David Beauvais, attorney for Robert Norse told Burdick. “It’s time to end this charade.”

But DA Jeff Roselle disagreed.

“Someone broke into…entered private property without permission. Sanction our office but do not dismiss the case. The sanctity of private property has been violated.”

“What about the sanctity of our rights to free speech, to a fair and speedy trial, to dissent?” queried defendant, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, shortly after the hearing.

Burdick opted to consider what sanctions he might impose but, apparently persuaded by Roselle announced “Serious crimes were committed. My discretion is not appropriately applied by dismissing these cases.”


Jan 4th 9am for prelim set
Jan 7th 9am Preliminary Hearing

Where is the outrage over activist prosecution?

Dennis A. Etler: Opinion

SC Sentinel:   08/19/2012

Over the years Santa Cruz has seen various protest movements ebb and flow through its streets and back alleys. Many local residents are open-minded and supportive of these protests, though the majority seldom participates. When the Occupy Wall Street movement began to spread throughout the country, it resonated with many who were motivated to act by the vast social and economic inequalities and injustices that have come to characterize our country. At its height, Occupy Santa Cruz attracted hundreds of demonstrators from all works of life, all age groups and a diversity of communities.

The encampment at the Benchlands in San Lorenzo Park adjacent to the county building was a dramatic symbol of popular resistance to the fleecing of America by the 1 percent. It was also a dramatic example of community self-help for homeless people who had and still have no shelter.

After some time, in Santa Cruz as throughout the country, local authorities grew apprehensive and angry at Occupy Santa Cruz. The city and county used permit demands, court injunctions, selective arrests, anti-lodging laws and established a new nighttime curfew zone around the courthouse to thwart the protest. Finally, squads of police moved to disperse several hundred homeless people and destroy their property. Elsewhere Occupiers were hit with pepper spray and mass arrests. Here the court system is being used as a club wielded against longtime activists.

Last year at the height of the Occupy protests nationwide, an autonomous group in Santa Cruz occupied a vacant bank building at 75 River St. leased by Wells Fargo. Many local residents, including mainstream and independent media, community leaders and concerned citizens, as well as young, free-spirited revelers, entered the building to support and observe. After 72 hours and a police request that the building be vacated, the protesters left with minimal property damage, no personal injuries, no citations and no arrests.

I was therefore flabbergasted when months later District Attorney Bob Lee initiated criminal proceedings against 11 community activists. He charged then with felony conspiracy to vandalize and trespass. The only evidence as revealed by six preliminary hearings was that they were in the building with dozens if not hundreds of others. A Sentinel reporter, a city councilwoman, and several other more conservative reporters, known to the police with 300 others also in the building were ignored.

Selectively targeting protesters months later for nonviolent protest is a terrifying new tactic. Lee claims he just wants the 11 to pay $25,000 in compensation to Wells Fargo for undocumented graffiti. Yet the cost of courts, bailiffs, deputy DAs, public defenders, etc. runs to many times this amount. This month Lee is asking for more prosecution money.

The Santa Cruz 11 do not deserve to be prosecuted. Local authorities are attempting to bully and intimidate those who have the temerity to challenge a system which dehumanizes and oppresses the dispossessed and most disadvantaged amongst us. Meanwhile the real felons — the banks — continue their abusive foreclosure practices with obscene government handouts. Those who expose them are on a six-month courtroom treadmill and face a possible seven years in prison, while real crimes go unprosecuted.

I ask District Attorney Lee, have you no shame? And I ask the people of Santa Cruz, where is the outrage?

Dennis A. Etler, an instructor in the Cabrillo College anthropology department, lives in Boulder Creek.

Case against Santa Cruz Eleven is crumbling

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

August 18, 2012

Original Post

Santa Cruz, Ca. — The case against eleven mostly long-time and well-known activists or alternative media journalists seems to be falling apart.

On Friday, DA Rebekah Young was made to answer for video discovery not delivered, potentially exculpatory evidence not turned over, billing sheets confirming allegations of damages still missing, and promises made not kept.

“She still has not turned over the second videotape mentioned in police reports about my client,” charged defense attorney, Alexa Briggs. “And the first tape is exculpatory as it shows my client, Mr. Laurendau leave the building when warned.”

Judge Burdick cancelled the Preliminary hearing on August 20th and ordered Young to show cause why he should not dismiss all charges.

A 9am hearing is scheduled.

Judge indicates he may dismiss charges in 75 River case due to procedural issues: Judge has strong words for prosecutor

Jessica M. Pasko – Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted:   08/17/2012

SANTA CRUZ – A judge had strong words Friday for the prosecutor handling the case of the takeover of a vacant bank, telling her he was unhappy with the way the case has been handled, saying he could dismiss it.

Seven people still face charges in connection with the nearly three-day occupation of the former Wells Fargo building located at 75 River St. They’re charged with felony conspiracy, vandalism and misdemeanor trespass. The charges stem from an incident in which a group claiming to be acting “anonymously and autonomously but in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz” entered the bank building in late November and remained there for nearly 72 hours.

Friday, defense attorneys told Judge Paul Burdick they haven’t received some of the documents and videos they have requested from the District Attorney’s Office despite numerous attempts.

Alexis Briggs, who represents Cameron Laurendeau, said she has not received specific video she requested from prosecutor Rebekah Young. The video in question refers to footage apparently used by police to confirm who was where and when during the occupation of 75 River St.

Defense attorneys for Becky Johnson, Robert Norse, Gabriella Ripleyphipps, Franklin Alcantara, Desiree Foster and Brent Adams expressed similar frustration.

“If there are videotapes depicting the crimes taken by police and they haven’t been provided (to the defense,) it’s inexcusable,” Burdick said, growing increasingly exasperated. “We’re now eight months into this case. I’m inclined to dismiss it.”

Young said she had duplicated as many of the DVDs as she could but some were unable to be copied due to technological issues. Her office set up a YouTube channel for the raw footage, but some of the defense attorneys argued that the Internet wasn’t an appropriate way to hand over discovery.

Burdick said that at this point, it’s unlikely the court will proceed with a preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for Monday. Instead, he ordered an order to show cause hearing for Monday, in which the prosecution will have to show why all charges shouldn’t be dismissed because of failure to provide discovery.

“I’m really unhappy about this Ms. Young,” Burdick said. “It’s inexcusable.”

He ordered Young to compile an inventory of what evidence – and when – has been provided to the defense attorneys as well as the methodology of doing so.

Late Friday afternoon Young said she was working to upload all of the footage onto external hard drives for the defense attorneys.

Charges against four of the 11 people originally charged in the case – Bradley Allen, Alex Darocy, Grant Wilson and Edward Rector – previously were dismissed by Burdick.

Teen Challenge seeks to reopen Salvation Army shelters in Watsonville

Donna Jones – Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted:   08/16/2012

WATSONVILLE — Salvation Army officials are reviewing a proposal by a local group to take over management of three downtown homeless shelters.

The group closed its three shelters Wednesday, citing financial difficulty.

Teen Challenge Monterey Bay, which manages the Pajaro Rescue Mission across the Pajaro River in Pajaro, has submitted a proposal to reopen them under its supervision.

Mike Borden, executive director of Teen Challenge, said Pajaro Rescue Mission is prepared to shelter the homeless left without a place to sleep by the closing. The mission readied for the Salvation Army closing by stocking up on cots that can be set up nightly in its chapel and dining room. A few men displaced from the Salvation Army shelter have showed up at its door, Borden said. He expects the numbers to grow once three-day motel vouchers handed out by Salvation Army on Wednesday run out.

The community can’t afford to lose 60 beds, Borden said.

“We are prepared but what we need is shelter on that side of the river so we can meet the needs there,” he said.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Laine Hendricks said the proposal is under review by regional officials in Southern California. She couldn’t say when a response would be made or what it might be. She said there are no plans to sell the property on Union Street across from the police station. She did say Teen Challenge would have to show it has the finances to run a program.

In June, when Salvation Army announced the closings, Hendricks said slumping donations in a down economy meant cutbacks had to be made. Closing the shelters allows the organization to maintain its other services, including a soup kitchen that served nearly 16,000 breakfasts and 43,000 dinners in 2011.

Borden estimated it would cost $120,000 annually to run the shelters. He acknowledged the funding isn’t all in place.

“The problem is we can’t go out and raise money for something we don’t have,” Borden said. “But a lot of people have committed, and our expectation is that the community is going to rally and make this happen.”

Borden said Teen Challenge, which has been working in the community for 25 years, has a track record, With a $600,000 annual budget, it provides 11,000 meals a month, 130 beds each night and an extensive job training program. Most of its funding comes from its own enterprises.

“We try to change lives not just sustain them,” Borden said. “We have a long history of being able to do this and do it very cost effectively.”

Occupy protester guilty of vandalism

by Henry K. Lee
S.F. Chronicle Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Occupy protester has been convicted of felony vandalism for throwing a chair and smashing the windows of an Oakland police building near City Hall.

Cesar Aguirre, 24, of Elk Grove (Sacramento County) was convicted Monday by an Alameda County jury and could face up to three years in state prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 10.

Testimony showed he was dressed in black clothing and was wearing goggles and a dust mask in the early morning hours of Nov. 1 when he used a metal folding chair to break the windows of the Oakland police internal affairs and recruiting office on Frank Ogawa Plaza about 1 a.m. Nov. 3.

A police officer witnessed the incident from a parking structure. Aguirre had glass shards on his sleeves when he was arrested.

Authorities said he broke six windows and a door, causing $6,654 in damage. The city has sued Aguirre to recover the cost of repairs.

The incident happened amid rioting in downtown Oakland following a peaceful demonstration on Nov. 2.

As You See It: Foreclosure rules needed

by Dean Oja, Boulder Creek
Santa Cruz Sentinel Aug. 15, 2012

What the supervisors of Santa Cruz County should do, like you said in “County tables housing rules,” is make the banks show that they have the title to a home before the county issues them a notice of default. As it is now, the bank just comes in and ask the recorder of the notice of default and they get it, without showing any documentation that they legally own the property. Nevada did this and foreclosures have been reduced to half as many as before.

Banks also do not have to pay a transfer tax like everybody else when we buy property. In San Francisco, the supervisors are voting on Nov. 8 to make the banks pay this fee because the title is being transferred.

My question is, do the banks have to pay property tax on the house after they take it back, and if not, why? They should have to pay the property tax for the same amount as the foreclosed owner was until the house is sold.

If you are being foreclosed on or heading that way go to www.HOFJ.org — Home Owners for Justice — and see if they can help.

Let’s prosecute the bankers for fraud for the “robo-signing” that was happening and might still be happening.

This was mass fraud against the people. We could probably use RICO laws due to the mass conspiracy of defrauding the public and the courts, but nobody in the Justice Department seems to think it is a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you.

Santa Cruz County relaxes affordable housing rules

By Jason Hoppin – Santa Cruz Sentinel
08/14/2012SANTA CRUZ – In a nod to what remains a tight housing market, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday relaxed the county’s affordable housing rules, handing developers the flexibility to rent out units that would otherwise be sold to low- and moderate-income residents.County staff said they hoped the deal encouraged banks to lend to builders who are still having a difficult time securing financing on large projects. The deal sunsets after two years, and likely impacts a high-profile plan that’s been three decades in the making – the Aptos Village Project.

“It’s going to provide an incentive for large-scale housing developments in the county, which we have not seen over the years,” Wanda Williams, the county’s assistant planning director, told the board.

But the shift touched off a debate among supervisors about how best to fund affordable housing after the statewide loss of redevelopment agencies, once the primary force behind new affordable housing.

The move was championed by Supervisor Ellen Pirie, who represents Aptos and is retiring from politics in a few months. She has said one of her goals is to push the Aptos Village plan through.

“The last thing we want is an affordable housing ordinance that actually inhibits affordable housing,” Pirie said.

Under the county’s voter-approved 1978 Measure J affordable housing program, roughly 15 percent of new units are set aside of low- and moderate-income homeowners, providing one path to homeownership in a county where housing prices remain sky high.

Rather than sell the units, the changes approved Tuesday allow the developer to rent them out for up to seven-and-a-half years, at which point they would be sold as affordable housing or at market rates, if the developer pays a substantial fee.

That last provision caused much of the debate, with the board eventually voting that it would have final say over any developer’s decision to pay the “in lieu” fee.

“I’m concerned that if we allow that, we’re going to have more units that fall outside the affordable housing stock,” Supervisor Mark Stone said.

That option is available to developers, who pay a sliding scale fee based on the value of a home. For example, a home valued at $500,000 would trigger a 40 percent fee, or $200,000.

Those funds go toward building affordable housing. For example, they were recently plowed into Santa Cruz’ Nuevo Sol Apartments, which serves the chronically homeless.

But they have also been used to helped fund programs aimed at vulnerable populations, and county staff praised their value. Because they are flexible, they can be used as matching funds to help secure state and federal grants, for example.

“I think in terms of the overall program it’s a real benefit to have those resources,” county administrator Susan Mauriello said.

The Aptos Village Project is targeted for an undeveloped swath behind the Bayview Hotel. It includes a mixed-use village, more than 60 housing units, new roads and the relocation of the old apple barn.

The project is being developed by Barry Swenson Builder. A representative could not be reached to comment.