Downtown Santa Cruz is an incredible hub of commerce, culture, and community. If you choose to set up shop in Downtown there are a few things you should be aware of to help you get off on the right foot.

Downtown Association

Downtown Santa Cruz is a Business Improvement District (BID) established to promote commerce and provide for an environment compatible with doing business. Every business operating within the boundaries of the District pays an assessment that is used by the Downtown Association to carry out its mission.

The assessment generates revenue that is used exclusively to promote this vital core commercial area. These assessments are collected by the City of Santa Cruz Finance Department as part of your annual Business License fee and forwarded directly to the Santa Cruz Downtown Association (DTA).

Learn more about how fees are assessed.

Downtown Management Corporation

The Downtown Management Corporation (DMC) oversees the Cooperative Retail Management District (CRM), covering Pacific Avenue from Water Street to Laurel Street and the side streets off of Pacific Avenue. DMC coordinates with the Downtown Ambassadors Program, supports the Downtown-Beach Shuttles, contracts with Uncle Poop's Pet Waste Removal, and offers the Security Camera Matching Grant Program.

To fund this work for the Downtown, the DMC collects an assessment—separate and in addition to the BID assessment—based upon the linear foot frontage, lot size, and building size of the real property used for commercial or business purposes within the CRM District. Each parcel’s assessment is calculated as following a three-part formula:

  1. Linear frontage feet x linear frontage rate = linear feet assessment
  2. Lot square footage x lot square footage rate = lot assessment
  3. Building square footage x building square footage rate = building assessment.

Linear feet assessment + lot assessment + building assessment = the annual assessment

The assessment rates are calculated as follows:

The CRM assessment is charged to property owners though they often pass this cost onto the tenants. So you should be aware of these costs when assessing a potential lease agreement for a Downtown space for your business.

For more information about the DMC contact Rebecca Unitt at 831-420-5157 or email.


Parking Deficiency Fees

All businesses operating in the Downtown Parking District are required to pay Parking Deficiency Fees. Your parking deficiency fees are spent exclusively on developing and operating downtown public parking, which serves downtown customers, employees and residents.

Businesses receive credit for all on-site parking spaces that are assigned for customer parking and also meet Zoning Ordinance requirements.

For more information about Parking Deficiency Fees, please view this Parking Deficiency Fee FAQ document or contact the Public Works Programs Manager at 420-5184.

Parking Office

Visit the Parking Office at 124 Locust Street, Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM, to learn about what business parking permit programs are available for you and your employees.

Parking Garage Permit Program

The City offers a parking permit program for the Soquel/Front Street garage, River/Front Street garage, and the Locust Street garage. You can obtain a permit to park in one of those three garages and the permits cost $75 a month. Unfortunately there is a lengthy waiting list for permits:

  • Locust Garage
  • Soquel/Front Garage
  • River/Front Garage

For more information about this program and current waiting list information contact Claudia Carlson, Parking Office Supervisor, at (831) 420-6098 or by email.

Parking Validation Program

Parking Services offers two different parking validation programs for Downtown Businesses:
100% Validation
The company is billed every quarter for the total amount of parking used through their validation stamps.
2 Hour Validation
Each validation stamp is worth $1.00 or 2 hours of parking. Each book of stamps has 100 validation stamps which are sold at $50 per book of stamps, a 50% discount.

Validations may be obtained by contacting the Off-Street Parking Supervisor at (831) 420-5381.

Learn more about the Parking Validation Program.