I never thought I’d see the day when Santa Cruz sold out. It’s like a death in the family. Chain stores are replacing locally owned shops, tech industry salaries are driving up real estate and driving out local residents, and an honest job no longer pays the bills. Community resources are dwindling and yet, community activism is at an all time low. This isn’t the Santa Cruz I remember as a kid; the Santa Cruz I loved for it’s eclectic mix of people, ideas, and backgrounds. And the Santa Cruz that fought for it’s beliefs.
So what happened?
The internet for one. Perhaps the ease of online shopping has surpassed the desire to support local businesses. Or perhaps, the majority of concerned local homeowners have sold and moved away in search of a better quality of life. Maybe we are all just too overwhelmed by all of the “things gone wrong” that we‘ve lost our drive to push back. Although there are many factors at play, the most influential and undeniable culprit of all is the influx of money from the tech industry.
What does this mean for Santa Cruz?
Ever since the tech giants chose to build their empire in our neighboring valley, the entire Bay Area has shifted it’s focus. Silicon Valley became the new stock market in the 1990s with the first major tech boom, and then again more recently with the launch of mobile apps and startups. And investors, both local and foreign, have been putting their dollars in tech and in California real estate ever since for the guaranteed returns. It’s the safest bet you could make. And now, with the entire world becoming increasingly dependent on personal electronic devices, there is very little chance of “the bubble bursting”. This means the cost of living in Santa Cruz will continue to rise and first time homebuyers will continue to lose out to all cash offers. The homeowners lucky enough to have purchased their home pre-1990s boom, may not feel as threatened or concerned with the changing tide. They are reaching retirement age and are not in direct competition with those that are carving out a life for themselves in our beach blanket babylon. These folks are the reason that xxx did not pass. They assumed they have something to gain from the shift. But they failed to do their homework. The percentage of tech engineers who bring their parents to live with them... that means more elderly /less resources...etc. Retirement....
Why is tech industry money bad for Santa Cruz?
Technology itself is not evil. It’s innovative and miraculous. It has improved medical science and flown us to the moon. We have access to a wealth of information at our fingertips and many of us can work from the comfort of our home. But if you happen to live near the epicenter of the tech explosion, you are more likely to feel the burn than to be in awe of the blaze.
Some say change is for the better. More money means better healthcare, schools, and a safer, cleaner Santa Cruz right? In theory, yes. Unfortunately, the money that is flooding our city is not supporting our community. details...
By the time the majority of folks who have long called the Santa Cruz mountains and coastline home come to know the true magnitude of the shift, the deals will have already been made and the damage done. Private schools will bring top notch education to those who can afford it. A few lucky teachers will benefit from a better salary but the majority of our local youth will be left with less resources than we have now.
But alas, money is king and progress is progress. We live in a desirable and commutable area, so isn’t this shift inevitable? I’m not so sure. But I am sure of this: Now is NOT the time to be apathetic, unregistered, and careless. We can’t afford it. Literally. Now is the time to get our sh*t together. MEFORMAYOR is a band, a movement, and a last stitch effort to preserve the diverse cultural history that makes Santa Cruz unique.
Music has the power to unite, communicate, and inspire. It may be our best chance at combatting the capitalistic swells and marketplace homogeny threatening our community’s livelihood. Or, it may, in the least, convince a few folks to vote.
The writing’s on the wall; things are looking bad for Santa Cruz local. The wrecking ball has swung and now we must consider what role we will play in the re-invention of Santa Cruz County. In case you‘ve mistaken us for angsty youth, we’ve included a reading list below with relevant links to websites and articles for your enlightenment.
“A band and social advocacy experiment, MEFORMAYOR explores the challenges facing Santa Cruz County residents amidst the rapidly changing socio-economic climate. Satirical and sobering, it’s social commentary for the thicker skinned. ”
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