[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

OT SANTA CRUZ site of the Y2K9 International Live Looping Festival

This is a fascinating article about the city that has declared 
International Live Looping
Day in the city for the last five straight years and still boasts 
perhaps the largest
per capita population of live looping artists of any city on the planet.

I'm proud of this place so I wanted to share it with all of you who have 
played the
Y2K festivals in past years or are considering doing so.   

Rick Walker

    The Leftmost City: Power & Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz

        by G. William Domhoff

        December 2008

Santa Cruz, California may be the most politically progressive city in 
the United States.An unlikely confederation of socialist-feminists, 
social-welfare liberals, neighborhood activists, and environmentalists 
has stopped every major development project since 1969 and controlled 
the city council since 1981. Berkeley, Burlington, Madison, San 
Francisco, Santa Monica -- none of them had as progressive a government 
for even half as long.

Since most cities are usually controlled by real estate developers and 
their buddies, Santa Cruz is a good test case for comparing theories of 
urban power. Atypical cases are helpful in eliminating theories from 
consideration if they cannot explain the unexpected events.

That's why Richard Gendron and I wrote /The Leftmost City: Power and 
Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz/ 
Press, 2009). It concludes that the growth coalition theory 
<http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/local.html> of urban 
power is the one urban theorists should build on because the basic 
political conflict in Santa Cruz pitted downtown landowners and real 
estate developers against neighborhood activists, who unexpectedly 
triumphed because they had the help of faculty, staff, and students at 
UC Santa Cruz, the most liberal public university in the country, as 
well as environmentalists who wanted to protect the beautiful coastline 
from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. We then point out the weaknesses of 
the three main alternatives to growth coalition theory: public choice 
theory, urban Marxist theory, and public choice theory, which are 
also discussed on this site 

This Web site can be considered a supplement to that book for those who 
want to know more about the history of the city and the political 
leaders who have run it. It also provides information on other books and 
Web sites about Santa Cruz.


Map of California

      About Santa Cruz

      Santa Cruz is a picturesque city of 58,000 people on the Pacific
      coast, 75 miles south of San Francisco. It may not be paradise,
      but it's a very attractive place to live compared to many American
      cities. Nestled on a ten-mile strip of coastal shelf land between
      the heavily forested Santa Cruz Mountains to the north and the
      shorelines of Monterey Bay to the south, the city has breathtaking
      both its hillsides and beaches.

      The city enjoys an invigorating climate with moderate temperatures
      year round: no snow or freezing weather in the winter, and very
      few days in the summer with high humidity or temperatures above
      85F. Most of the rain is in late fall, winter and early spring,
      leaving many months of the year virtually free of precipitation.
      The wind can be chilly near the ocean, and the fog a bit
      depressing when it hangs on late into the day for a week or two,
      but most days are sunny and clear.

      A Brief History of Santa Cruz


Logger on old-growth redwood tree, early 1900s

Thanks to a fast-flowing river and the heavily forested mountainsides, 
Santa Cruz had a number of natural assets that made it possible for real 
estate owners in the little central business district to attract 
capitalists and workers to the area. The river currents were ideal for 
powering lumber and paper mills, which provided a major boost for a 
timber industry that was profitable first and foremost because of its 
giant redwood trees, renowned for their beauty, durability, and 
resistance to decay and insects. An ample supply of madrone and alder 
trees, which provided a good base for making explosives, brought a 
manufacturer of blasting powder and gunpowder to an area in the 
mountains a few miles northeast of the city.

Lime kilns at the Cowell Ranch (now UCSC)

The abundance of bark from tan-oaks -- a cheap source of the tannic acid 
necessary for tanning hides -- led to a large tanning industry; by 1870, 
ten tanneries, making use of hides from the Mission Santa Cruz and the 
few remaining cattle ranches, supplied half the saddle leather produced 
in the state. And the limestone in the hills and mountains behind Santa 
Cruz became valuable because of its role in making plaster and mortar 
for use in the construction of stone or brick structures, leading to the 
development of several limestone quarries that by 1880 were supplying 
more than half of the lime used for construction in the fast-growing 
cities of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento.


A 1947 "Suntan Special" train arrives from theBay Area

Because of its beachfront setting, Santa Cruz started to be a tourist 
destination very shortly after California became a state in 1850, and it 
has long been known for its laid-back atmosphere and beachfront 
amusement park and boardwalk, complete with an old-fashioned wooden 
roller coaster -- the Giant Dipper -- that dates back to 1924. Santa 
Cruz is also renowned as a great place to surf or watch surfing 
contests, earning it a mention in the Beach Boys' 1963 classic "Surfin' 

Santa Cruz became a college town in 1965 with the opening of a new 
campus of the University of California. The local landowners were 
overjoyed by winning the competition for the new campus; they envisioned 
huge growth based on new industries that wanted to be near a university. 
But no new industries arrived. To their chagrin, however, the campus 
became a competing power base, with its faculty, staff, and students 
providing neighborhoods with the added money, expertise, and leadership 
necessary to reject or control new real estate developments when they 
impinged on the quality of local life. The campus became even more of a 
"Trojan horse" after 1971, when the 26th Amendment granted voting 
privileges to 18- to 20-year-olds and made an already activist student 
body into an overwhelmingly progressive voting bloc large enough to 
swing elections in a pro-neighborhood, pro-environment direction when it 
could be mobilized.

Click here 
<http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/santacruz/history.html> for a 
much more detailed history of Santa Cruz and its growth coalition.

      The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake


Damage from the 1989 earthquake

Beyond its atypical power structure, there is another reason why Santa 
Cruz is an interesting test case: eight years after the progressives 
finally took control of the city council, they faced an unprecedented 
challenge when the main business district was almost completely 
destroyed by a large earthquake that struck the area on October 17, 
1989, with its epicenter just 10 miles from Santa Cruz. Three people 
were killed in the downtown area and nearly half of the downtown 
buildings had to be torn down, with many others suffering damage that 
required major repairs. Stunned city residents huddled in grief as they 
saw the entire downtown core being fenced off.

The downtown businesses that didn't go bankrupt or move elsewhere had to 
move into large tent-like pavilions that were hastily erected on city 
parking lots just outside the cordoned-off area. In the process, the 
quake also put power issues on the table once again. It handed the 
disheartened business leaders what some of them saw as a golden 
opportunity to regain their political ascendancy by showing how 
necessary they were to economic prosperity. For the progressives, the 
disaster was fraught with political danger: they needed to rebuild the 
downtown in order to have the tax revenues to continue their ambitious 
social programs, but they feared and distrusted the downtown land and 
business owners after almost two decades of bitter political warfare.

After a long political argument between the progressives and the 
downtown business community (which is discussed in detail in /The 
Leftmost City/), the city slowly recovered in the late 1990s and now has 
a new Pacific Avenue that is almost as vibrant as the old Pacific Garden 

For a more detailed account of the history of Santa Cruz from a 
sociological perspective, please read the document entitled "The History 
of Santa Cruz" 
which leads directly into"Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz"