Developer Explains Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Build New Homes in Santa Cruz County


Tom Decker on Jan 23, 2024 (Courtesy of Bay Area Innovators)

Our guest today is Tom Decker, a builder and real estate developer for 40 years in Santa Cruz County.  He talks about the difficulties of building a new home in the county and how the government regulations are making it worse as well as the impact on its residents.
4 years after the Aug 2020 CZU fire that destroyed about 1100 homes in the area, only 37 have been rebuilt according to Mr. Decker.  The permitting process is so difficult that people give up on building new homes.
On July 17, 1891 there was a big fire in Boulder Creek  with pretty much all the structures being burnt down.  At that time, with much less technology and equipment than we have today, it took 2 years to rebuilt the whole city, the city that is in place now, according to Mr. Decker. “But they did not have the government restrictions we have now.” added Tom.
Mr. Decker also talks about the San Lorenzo river’s containing feces, possibly from the 100+ homeless leaving on its banks.  However, the response of the County has been to mandate every one of the 14,000 homes that have a septic tank to install an enhanced unit which can cost up to $150,000 with a $500 per month monitoring fee, just so no gray water makes it to the river.  Included in this is a house that is 6 miles from the river going up and down 2 sets of mountains.
Join us to understand why building in this county has become so difficult.
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