Four Pillars of Economic Development in the City of Santa Cruz

May 2, 2023

Looking ahead to the first post-pandemic summer in Santa Cruz, the Economic Development team has been working diligently to continue to support city businesses, bring housing projects to life, and boost the vibrancy of our city through the arts. Programs like the permanent parklet program will transition the temporary outdoor dining spaces downtown to permanent installations and will allow restaurants to expand their service area and give patrons the option to enjoy a great meal while also enjoying Santa Cruz’s amazing weather.

Our Infrastructure and Housing teams have been heads down finalizing the Wharf Master Plan for a more sustainable Wharf and expediting housing projects for a solid head start on construction of the 3,736 housing units required during our 6th Housing Element Cycle. There are currently three City sponsored 100% affordable projects and around a dozen other major private projects underway, with more coming over the next few years. The City Arts Recovery Design (CARD) Pilot Grant Program has approved eight projects underway including the first steps to begin installation of public art along the Santa Cruz Rail Trail - Segment 7.

Results of the Arts and Economic Prosperity study will be published in late 2023 documenting the importance of the creative economy to the economic base of Santa Cruz. These are just a few examples of the tasks that the Economic Development department takes on to help make Santa Cruz a great place to live.

Swift St Retail 5 D3 4520


Starting a business should be a fun adventure. Whether you are starting a restaurant, retail store, or working from your home office, there are some steps you need to take to operate legally in Santa Cruz. The Business Services team is here to help every step of the way. From just starting your business concept, to permitting, to the opening or launch of your business and every day after that, we have resources for you to help make your experience as a business owner a good one. And, if you’re not sure where to start, we can help you with that, too. All you have to do, is send us a note and we can guide you from there.


While the Infrastructure team often takes the lead on big, complex projects like the Wharf Master Plan, Tannery Dance Building, the upcoming Library Affordable Housing project, and the addition of Pacific Station North which will include a brand-new Metro station. this team also has a lot of crossovers with the Business team. From the wayfinding signs around the City that help you find your way, to supporting events like Midtown Fridays to be sure the site is ready to welcome the community, and connecting the beach and downtown with the Santa Cruzer, this team makes things happen. Have a burning question about infrastructure, property development or management? Send our team a message.

Pac Station South


Having comfortable housing is a big part of loving where you live. The creation of housing, from affordable to market rate, is a big part of what our housing team works on. This means working with developers, with existing landlords and property managers, and employers to create more low-income and workforce housing. With the current housing crisis across Santa Cruz and California, this is a big job and a mandatory one. Our goal is to create the type of housing that complies with the state mandates while gaining input from the community. If you have questions about housing, let us know.


Perhaps you may have noticed that Santa Cruz is a very artsy city. From the Sea Wall Murals project to the Tannery Arts Center, our team recognizes the importance of the arts to Santa Cruz. Our city is home to great musicians and makers, so we do our best to support the arts through various projects and grant opportunities for our artists. Looking for support? Let us know how we can help.

Introducing the Santa Cruzer

City Arts Recovery Design (CARD) Spring 2023 Update