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Turning Santa Cruz Into a Haven For Hackers, Makers & Startups

timothy posted about a year ago | from the also-source-of-great-skateboards dept.

Businesses 117

waderoush writes "While Santa Cruz, CA, may be most famous for its surfing, its boardwalk, and its lax marijuana laws, it was also the birthplace of big tech companies like Plantronics, Borland Software, SCO, Seagate Technologies, and Netflix. But that was all a long time ago. As entrepreneurs and city leaders in Santa Cruz work to revive the city's technology scene today, they're starting largely from scratch. In a three-part series this week, Xconomy looks at efforts in this sunny beachside town to build a thriving high-tech ecosystem with a unique identity, separate from that of nearby Silicon Valley. Part 1 surveys the products and industries that make up the Santa Cruz brand, from sports and recreation to organic food. Part 2 looks at the city's past technology successes and its crop of emerging startups, and efforts to build a strong local network of startup mentors, advisors, and investors. Part 3 details efforts to increase the local talent supply, in part by encouraging more students from UC Santa Cruz to live and work in the city after they graduate; it also looks at the city's campaign to reverse perceptions that it's an anti-business haven for beach bums and pot smokers."

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117 comments

I'd run, not walk from SC... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44449771)

Problem with SC is the exact thing that is happening in Austin:

1: Students move in and get residency rights.
2: Said students vote themselves lots of amenities (bike paths), and against anything that isn't "cool" (such as new police substations, water treatment plants, roads, etc.)
3: Said people graduate and move back home.
4: Taxes go up in the city, and the consequences of the decisions (higher crime) that these people make isn't felt by these transient voters, but by everyone else living in the area.
5: New students wonder where the cool hangouts went. Answer: They were taxed out of the city. Instead, the only places that can pay the large bills are places that cater only to the spray tan and duck lip crowd.

If you are a college student, SC is a great town. If you actually have to shoulder a tax burden for people who voted for things and are long gone, there are better places.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450151)

More crazy Americans trying to figure out why everything is destroyed and gone from yesteryear. Dear F-ing American government, its your policies and dumb educational brainwashing. Go socialism.

actually explains SCO, too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450981)

One thing about living in Santa Cruz I never could stomach, all the damn vampires.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450257)

This. My family goes back in SC to the end of the Civil War. Once the university was built in the 60s, the place went to shit rapidly.

Re: I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

drfred79 (2936643) | about a year ago | (#44452339)

My family dates back to the 1910's I think in Santa Cruz. My grandfather, my father, and myself were raised there. Santa Cruz wants to be known for opposing the Iraq war and being a nuclear free zone. They have created housing for transient homeless but not for community college students failed by the local school system. The high schools had two paths: do well and go to school somewhere else or work in the service industry in town. UCSC is one of the lowest rated research universities in the UC system. Don't ask why Wrigley's gum and Plantronics shut down working wage factory jobs. And don't ask why Watsonville to the south has more growth and rising incomes. Let SC sink into the ocean. The city leaders have been trying to sink it for decades.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450269)

Not just that, but affording office space here is nearly impossible when you're starting out. Kind of like housing (or the lack thereof). Many can afford one but not the other. On top of that, most of the jobs are in retail with wages you can't live on or you have to commute over the hill.

But if you DO manage to make a living here, then there's the daily "spare change?" bums all over town. I've never seen career bums quite like we have in SC. And the lovely first impression when you park in the parking structure downtown on a warm day - a wall of urine stench. I can only imagine what that garage would look like with a black light. If this were a larger city, I'd be more forgiving, but damn...

All that aside, parts of this town are quite lovely. It's gone downhill a lot in the years I've lived here, but there are still nice areas. I agree about the student voters. It's a real problem since they make up such a huge percentage of the population when they're here. I disagree about the spray tan/duck lip crowd though. I think there's an awful lot to offer hipsters too. ;)

Ok, I'll stop my rant... this place is ok, but yes, I agree it was better once.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450615)

I agree about the student voters. It's a real problem since they make up such a huge percentage of the population when they're here.

I went to UCSC and was registered to vote there while a student. When I moved to SF, I couldn't afford to be out of work for jury duty, so I kept my Santa Cruz voter registration and voted absentee. I finally registered in SF for the 2008 election, but that left a full decade after I left school that I was able to vote in SC.

The point: absent any verification of resident status, the problem is even worse than described.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about a year ago | (#44450475)

All this sounds very familiar, except that in my city they're not involved in local politics. They're too busy with their light academics loads and parties. They do come in and expect the world should accommodate them at the expense of quality of life for year round residents. Often times it's just a complete lack of consideration and when people complain they're offended that anyone would try to restrict their lifestyles. The best part is when they graduate and move out, they go and badmouth the city.

Unfortunately, given that universities are a cash cow it's inevitable they'll get their way. Meanwhile, residents, who endure a heavy tax burden continue to be ignored. Although, the problems around here are more complex than that; it almost seems like our municipal government wants tax paying residents to move out.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450563)

Nah none of that is the reason. The reason is the old fart hippies that run Santa Cruz and the surrounding cities don't want growth, so they oppose anything and everything that smells like progress. And the planning department is totally corrupt and obstinate. Opening a small business in Santa Cruz is annoying, trying to grow that business quickly runs into local opposition due to permits. Where are you going to find a place where you can house a 100 code monkeys.

And face it, if you're not a slacker pot head Santa Cruz is really boring.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452045)

Santa Cruz in a nutshell from some late 70's graffiti:

Valley leeches leave our beaches!

Fuck 'em.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452169)

I've lived and worked as a software engineer in Santa Cruz for fifteen years now, don't burn, and yet I somehow manage to not be bored. I have a great job with one of the innovative tech companies mentioned in the original article. My wife and I saw a fantastic production of "La Cage aux Folles" at Cabrillo Stage last night. I'm competing in a triathlon this weekend. Hey, maybe after the race, I'll go hang out at the new microbrewery and get lunch and some great craft beer. We're probably going to see Les Claypool at the Catalyst in a couple of weeks. After work tonight, I'll probably walk my dog on West Cliff Drive, watch the sun set over the ocean, and maybe see some sea otters or dolphins. What a bore.

There are at least two buildings on Pacific Avenue with the space to handle several hundred employees -- the Cooper House and the new Rittenhouse building -- though I'd argue that the real innovation is going to be done by smaller, focused teams. Robert Singleton hits the nail on the head in the article when he says, “In Santa Cruz, it’s more like, ‘What problems do we really want to solve? How can we add some value to the community in which we live?’ There is a focus on generating a unique style of innovation, rather than on the next Angry Birds.” Maybe I've gone hippie-native, but I think the Valley's focus on fluffing up a idea so it can be sold to Facebook is a dead end and that the real growth in the tech community will be found in providing solutions to local, meaningful issues. Santa Cruz is already heading in that direction.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452387)

There is a focus on generating a unique style of innovation, rather than on the next Angry Birds.

Even if you were focused on making the next Angry Birds... if it takes you 100 code monkeys to do it, you have already lost [smarta.com] .

Re: I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44453549)

Well I enjoy how you mentioned local but I wonder the extent of your friends who are Santa Cruz natives. I've lived in San Francisco off and on for years and I can attest to being friends with a majority who were raised in Santa Cruz. If you can count the amount of Santa Cruz native friends you have on your hands that shows that maybe Cabrillo should be worried less about subsidizing enjoyable fine arts fit citizens and worry more about the price of higher education and the state of education in the Santa Cruz school system.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44450577)

Basically, the problem with Santa Cruz is that its Santa Cruz. Ick.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450661)

Problem with SC is the exact thing that is happening in Austin:

1: Students move in and get residency rights.
2: Said students vote themselves lots of amenities (bike paths), and against anything that isn't "cool" (such as new police substations, water treatment plants, roads, etc.)

Democracy, ain't it a bitch. How terrible that people should have the right to vote where they live.

3: Said people graduate and move back home.
4: Taxes go up in the city, and the consequences of the decisions (higher crime) that these people make isn't felt by these transient voters, but by everyone else living in the area.

Who, apparently, can't vote at all, right? And who certainly can't organize to reverse any of the bad decisions, or appeal to the alien monsters from "government".

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44450875)

1: Students move in and get residency rights.

Sounds like the answer is right here, revoke this law.

I've never heard of such a thing....I was an out of state student at my college for all 4 years I went, I paid out of state tuition, etc.

I never was able to register and vote in that state, but I still could in my state of residence.

Aren't most states like this?

Anyway, why don't they change this back. Seems unfair to have transient folks voting and making regulations and taxes that true residents have to pay for later...

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451051)

You probably could have if you didn't live in a dorm. I was an out of state student and although I paid out of state tuition I was able to register to vote locally (using my local apartment address) and vote in local elections.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about a year ago | (#44451151)

I don't understand. Is there some other prerequisite for residency rights besides... residency?

If simply moving somewhere doesn't qualify you for residency rights, then what does?

Regarding in-state tuition vs out-of-state tuition, that has nothing to do with residency rights and everything to do with school policy. Had you moved to the state where your school was located several months (depending on the school) before enrolling, you would have been eligible for in-state tuition rates. You'd likely have recouped the cost from the additional rent payments within the first year of school, going by the average disparity between these two rates for most schools that I've seen.

But to answer your question, no, most states are not like this. I actually don't know of any states that are like this. When I moved from NJ to attend the University of Maine, I got a drivers license within a few days and was eligible to vote in Maine elections shortly after.

As far as I know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452089)

In california you only have to be a resident (must already be a US citizen) for 1 year to qualify for all rights and privileges of residency.

I know this because a guy I used to know moved here from Michigan for college, working the whole first year before starting Junior/Community college so he could qualify for our unit fees (Currently 48 or 56 dollars unless they raised it again, but at that time they were 11/unit) which were *MUCH* cheaper than the Michigan ones (I think he'd quoted them at ~300.)

Needless to say it was highly beneficial to him as a US citizen, compared to the ~400 dollar out of state fee, and ~1000(?) dollar non-citizen rates.

Flipside to this is the latter rates hadn't been going up while the local rates had. So a number of schools here have had consistent internaional numbers while the local enrollment flutuated as prices changed and financing opportunities came and went.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about a year ago | (#44452991)

You may be too young to know much about this topic. 50 years ago, when I turned voting age, the rules about residency were far more stringent. To register to vote one typically had to demonstrate residence in a location for 6 months prior to registering. Often a poll tax payment was also due. And the age was 21, not 18!

After I graduated from university I did a couple of postgraduate fellowships which caused me to move around a bit. The gist was I missed voting in several elections, including the presidential elections of both 1964 and 1968, simply because I was not in one place long enough to ever register.

The situation is very different today -- for the better.

I wonder how I would be affected today if the same rules were in effect. I now live outside the USA, and I can vote by mail after registering by mail in my former place of residence. I don't know what the rules about foreign residency would have been 50 years ago.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (2)

goffster (1104287) | about a year ago | (#44450879)

Being a resident in Austin, I can't see any evidence whatsoever
for these claims.

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (1)

CadentOrange (2429626) | about a year ago | (#44451057)

Are you a student?

Re:I'd run, not walk from SC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452083)

Bull shit, its the same problem with all of california:
Prop 13

Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44449863)

Everyone needs to blindly trust the government and believe whatever it says.
We must stop terrorism at all costs, even if it means sacrificing the very freedoms that we claim we need to defend.

-cold fjord

Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusive (4, Informative)

Niris (1443675) | about a year ago | (#44449867)

A lot of developers I know are pot smokers, so it's not that they're necessarily mutually exclusive.

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44450193)

There are a lot of myths out there with no relation to reality. I think half of them are people who saw a poster or commercial for a Cheech & Chong movie (without actually seeing the film) and now think they're experts on the topic.

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44453391)

I thought the same thing, as far as people believing all the BS with the pot head movies out there, but I smoke up, because I ran into very intellectual people that smoke pot. They didn't fit the stereo types that most pot smokers are complete idiots, or burnt out like heroin users..

The movie industry are communists to begin with, do you really think they would do a movie that shows how pot smokers are intellectual? And the ignorance of the idiots that do not smoke weed, ironically, because they believe government propaganda, but do not trust government, osdufosha, sorry got cross eyed at that thought!! Anytime the have a non pot smoking movie, and have a pot head guess what? they make him a complete idiot.

For me knowing the effects of marijuana, and seeing movies like Cheech & Chong pisses me off, but makes me laugh, laugh because pot smokers know it is completely retarded to portray pot heads in that manner, pisses me off because the ignorance of others that do not educate themselves, or they are so instilled in believing it is a terrible drug, just look at the how the hippies tried turning us into a free country, or look at those idiots Cheech & Chong and how the country would look if people smoked weed.

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44450595)

According to Slashdot, 98% of geeks are mind-altering-drug-smoking hackers with aspergers.

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450895)

According to Slashdot, 98% of geeks are mind-altering-drug-smoking hackers with aspergers.

According to Slashdot, 98% of geeks are mind-altering-drug-smoking hackers with (self-diagnosed) aspergers.

Fixed it for you.

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451301)

According to Slashdot, 98% of geeks are mind-altering-drug-smoking hackers with aspergers.

According to Slashdot, 98% of geeks are mind-altering-drug-smoking hackers with (self-diagnosed) aspergers.

Fixed it for you.

According to Slashdot, 98% of geeks are mind-altering-drug-smoking hackers with (self-diagnosed) aspergers who form smarmy replies to each other.

Fixed it for you.

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (1)

ruvablue (2571043) | about a year ago | (#44451359)

Can you point me to an example of a person self-diagnosed with Asperger's? Why would anyone want to claim they are on the autism spectrum when they are not on it? As a professionally diagnosed autistic [Asperger's], I see so much discrimination when people find out that I am autistic. Recent shootings' news commentators claim that the shooter had Asperger's and that is why he killed all of those kids. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/15/1170176/-They-re-Saying-the-Shooter-Had-Asperger-s [dailykos.com] Why would anyone want to claim that they have the same thing as a mass shooter of children? People also say that we are vaccine-damaged and unable to care for ourselves. I want to talk to these supposedly real people who self-dx themselves. I have yet to encounter anyone like that despite my time hanging out in the neurodiversity movement online. This trope about Asperger's needs to end.

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about a year ago | (#44451733)

Can you point me to an example of a person self-diagnosed with Asperger's? Why would anyone want to claim they are on the autism spectrum when they are not on it?

Try hanging out in some of the language-learning forums sometime. Many, many self-diagnosed Asperger's people hand out in them.

For some reason, they think that appearing to have Asperger's gives them an edge in how others view their intelligence and ease in learning foreign languages.

"Ooh! Hey look! I'm just like Daniel Tammet. I must have Asperger's."

Re:Pot smokers and Hackers aren't mutually exclusi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451687)

when was Slashdot ever wrong?

Hippie paradise? (1)

Roblimo (357) | about a year ago | (#44449917)

I thought Santa Cruz had already become not just the dope-smoking, tie-died place it always was, but also "a Haven For Hackers, Makers & Startups," overseen by the King Hacker, Maker, & Starter-Upper, Steve Wozniak.

Re:Hippie paradise? (2)

hguorbray (967940) | about a year ago | (#44449951)

yep -students, bums (homeless) and hippies/new age types -sort of like Berkeley by the Sea -should be an Open Source Paradise

I'm just sayin'

Re:Hippie paradise? (2)

Roblimo (357) | about a year ago | (#44450435)

Only problem = crazy cost of living. Look at these rents: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/apa/ [craigslist.org]

No problem if you're homeless, but if you want to live indoors, maybe because you have computers and such, $$$$ like crazy. Might as well live in San Franci$co.

So only hippies, new age types, and open source developers with trust funds can live in Santa Cruz.

Nothing new - I remember it as a richie haven back in the 1970s.

I always liked Searunner trimarians, but not enough to live near their factory.

And beaches? So. Calif. has WAY better beaches.

 

Re:Hippie paradise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450667)

And beaches? So. Calif. has WAY better beaches.

That depends on what you look for in a beach. For instance, many people consider a lack of southern Californians a very important consideration when choosing a beach.

Re:Hippie paradise? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44450785)

The problem is that as soon as you start talking about "branding", you're probably heading in the wrong direction.

Highway 17 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44449945)

From TFA:
"If you’re visiting from the north, part of the delight of arriving in Santa Cruz—quite apart from its numerous attractions, both natural and man-made—is that you have survived the terrifying drive over the Santa Cruz Mountains on California State Route 17."
I moved to Santa Cruz around the time Half-Life 2 was somewhat new. It always gave me a chuckle that the highway between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz is called Highway 17. TFA makes it seem like they're equally dangerous.

Re:Highway 17 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450591)

Oh yeah, try driving hwy 17 at night-- not a streetlight anywhere, it's pitch black, there are 90-degree turns every 100 feet, so your headlights are usually pointing off over some cliff edge. Terrifying.

Re:Highway 17 (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44450811)

On the occasion that the area receives snowfall in the winter, 17 can be absolutely treacherous, though, in general it's no different than your average windy, four-lane freeway over a moderate mountain pass, with drivers leaving at least five feet between them and the cars in front of/behind.

Still, there are some backroads in the SC mountains that are far, far worse. Bear Creek Road at 6am on a Monday headed toward San Jose is like a narrow, two-lane Autobahn (with occasional landslides that take out one of the two lanes). If you're not familiar with the road and you find yourself driving it, just do everyone a favor and pull over at a turn-out when someone is behind you and let them pass. Locals hate it when you drive any slower than 15mph over the speed limit.

Another gem is the backroad into Boulder Creek from the UCSC area (Empire Grade?) that passes by the mysterious Lockheed Martin facility. Lose attention for a split second and you'll find yourself at the bottom of a ravine (probably covered in poison oak and brown recluses) and there will be absolutely nobody to hear your cries.

Re:Highway 17 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452385)

Worse is Skyline Drive close to 17, which is a one lane road with two way traffic around blind turns.

But... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44449981)

it also looks at the city's campaign to reverse perceptions that it's an anti-business haven for beach bums and pot smokers.

Perceptions? If by that you mean, "what people see when they walk down Pacific Ave/Front St", then I would understand wanting to reverse that.

I've spent a lot of time in SC and the surrounding areas, and used to live in Boulder Creek for some time. I'm not so sure about the "anti-business" part, but it certainly IS a haven for bums. Pot smoking is irrelevant, it's Santa Cruz, nobody cares.

Now, if they were instead try to "reverse the perception" that there is a problem with high crime, that might interest me since it might be nice to feel safe down at the Boardwalk at 10pm. Maybe it is by now, I have no idea, I haven't gone down there in over 10 years.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450099)

boardwalk is pretty legit, if not funny// okay, i haven't even been in the states for 6 years.. but the tech env was not too bad in sc, lot of talent just not always with direction..

Why won't they let us comment on the poll? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450029)

I know this may be construed by a few as slightly off topic, but why did they close the comments on the Facebook poll? I have some very pertinent information on the subject.

So now SlashDot is the Chamber of Commerce? (4, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#44450089)

This whole thing sounds like reading the local chamber of commerce brochure.

>> students from UC Santa Cruz to live and work in the city after they graduate

Look, I went to four different colleges between undergrad and grad school. Besides the degree, the whole point of college is to get out, see new things, and make your sophomoric mistakes (get it?) in some other town where no one will remember you ten years from now. Wherever you go to school...please, please don't just settle down there. You'll thank me later.

Re:So now SlashDot is the Chamber of Commerce? (1)

Lluc (703772) | about a year ago | (#44450231)

Wherever you go to school...please, please don't just settle down there. You'll thank me later.

I'm somewhat amazed by the number of people who do settle down in their undergraduate college town, or at least have an infatuation with living in said town. My guess is that for many people, college is the first experience of freedom from parental authority. Combine that freedom with the relatively carefree lifestyle many live in college, and you have a (subconscious?) mental link between a great life style and your college town.

Re:So now SlashDot is the Chamber of Commerce? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44450333)

That and with their student debt they can't afford to move.

Why You No Move? "Student Debt" (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#44450611)

>> with their student debt they can't afford to move

If your worldly possessions don't comfortably fit in a car by the end of your undergrad, you're doing it wrong. (And I would I suspect your debt problems go beyond student loans.)

Re:Why You No Move? "Student Debt" (1)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#44451303)

>> with their student debt they can't afford to move

If your worldly possessions don't comfortably fit in a car by the end of your undergrad, you're doing it wrong. (And I would I suspect your debt problems go beyond student loans.)

It doesn't take much furniture to not comfortably fit into a car and it's usually cheaper than living somewhere that is furnished. Of course, the usual solution is to abandon/give away said furniture because it was never all that valuable any way.

If your wage prospects are so dismal that you can't afford to buy a new bed then I guess you might have a problem.

Re:So now SlashDot is the Chamber of Commerce? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44450885)

You have to remember, though, that there are some fantastic places to live that are very close by.

The whole San Lorenzo Valley to the north (Felton, Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek) has more of the feel of a place where alum might settle down after landing a nice job down in San Jose. My step-dad bought a nice secluded lot while still working for Cisco (before he got to ca$h out) and it's turning into a great home where retirement is nothing more than spending more time in the yard.

The area is also desirable for those who may tele-commute, since it's still close enough to pop in for those once-a-week free lunches (err... "meetings")

No. Just. Fucking. No (4, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year ago | (#44450123)

Santa Cruz is a nice place to spend a weekend but it's completely and utterly ISOLATED. It's a 45 minute drive from San Jose by way of the SR-17, which is a rally course set in a ravine. Every time I go through there, it's a stressful ride with a rock wall on one side, a concrete divider on the other and everyone wants to go 80 despite the 50mph limit. I'd probably enjoy the drive more if I had a Porsche or other low slung sports car, but not in my top heavy SUV careening through a narrow, curvy highway.

And that's the ONLY way to get there. There is no MassTransit Solution aside from possibly a bus.
Being that the tech community is about CONNECTIVITY, Santa Cruz has no place in that culture because it is physically so unconnected.
And don't lecture me about Skype and email etc -- we all know that's bullshit and for any real business to happen people will have to commute 45 minutes to an hour from SJ or 2 hours from SF to get there. And those without cars -- well, might as well leave the day before and get a hotel room because CalTrain + Bus will likely add up to 4 hours each way.

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450503)

not in my top heavy SUV careening through a narrow, curvy highway.

It's a sports utility vehicle. Don't use it for transportation on a highway, that's stupid. Go off road with it where it belongs. They really should ban those death traps from the highways instead of lowering the limits for them.

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (2)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about a year ago | (#44450555)

I lived in SC for years and commuted to Fremont in 50 minutes (before rush hours). I for one LOVE the drive on Hw 17 everyday. I would look forward to that drive in my Murano...SUV. There was nothing better than getting out of the boring freeways in the valley and heading up into the mountains and tall trees. To each their own.

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451353)

Murano is not an SUV, it's a crossover (CUV).

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44450909)

And that's the ONLY way to get there.

Incorrect. Highway 1 comes in from the north and south on the coast. Highway 9 comes in from SLV, and 152 comes in through Watsonville.

Yes, Hwy 17 is the highest capacity road that comes in, but if you're out to spend a leisurely day in Santa Cruz, why not take one of the more scenic routes to get there?

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44451729)

Incorrect. Highway 1 comes in from the north and south on the coast. Highway 9 comes in from SLV, and 152 comes in through Watsonville.

Yes, Hwy 17 is the highest capacity road that comes in, but if you're out to spend a leisurely day in Santa Cruz, why not take one of the more scenic routes to get there?

And by scenic, of course, you mean "filled with hairpin turns and no guardrail, overlooking a 300-foot dropoff into the water" (highway 1), "filled with hairpin turns and no guardrail, overlooking a 1000-foot dropoff onto solid rock" (highway 9), or "Hey look, it's not quite as bad as 129, and it is only two hours out of the way" (highway 152—one hour of actual driving, and one hour sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic at 5 MPH on highway 1 coming up from Watsonville).

Realistically, if you're coming from the Silicon Valley area, highway 17 is the only usable route. I've driven the others, and it's occasionally fun to do, if only to scare the bajeezus out of the passengers in your car), but IMO nobody in their right minds would drive it every day if they had an alternative. :-)

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451075)

Oh, *YOU'RE* that slowpoke I'm stuck behind.
Dude. Pedal on the right. Press it.

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452521)

If one doesn't drive the route frequently one does not know the limits of safety for the route. At which point obeying the speed limit is a Good Thing(TM), as long as one keeps to the rightmost lane and does one's best to allow other drivers to pass as often as possible.

Re:No. Just. Fucking. No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452837)

Yeah, the city really needs a train that goes somewhere. There are tracks that run straight up the coast, but they don't appear to be used for any actual transportation. Meanwhile, everyone tries to drive over this absurd squiggly mountain road.

Problem with Santa Cruz (2)

slieberg (34143) | about a year ago | (#44450137)

I thought the problem with Santa Cruz was all the vampires?

Re:Problem with Santa Cruz (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451069)

All the _damned_ vampires.

The biggest problem in Santa Cruz... (5, Insightful)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about a year ago | (#44450141)

...isn't a lack of talent, or retaining students, or anything else related to business - it's crime. The once-quaint "beach bums" are actually violent street kids and mentally ill homeless people, and unless you're on campus and removed from the city itself, you can't help but to experience this everywhere you go.

I lived there for four years while at UC Santa Cruz, and while there was a street kid problem then (15 years ago), it's much worse now, crime rates are up, and I don't feel safe there at all, just walking down the street. I've lived in various low-income communities, and for the most part they're "just" poor - there's crime, of course, but you can walk down the street safely. Santa Cruz is absurdly rich for some people, destitute for others, and it attracts a homeless/street population that make it no longer worth visiting. It's sad but true.

Re:The biggest problem in Santa Cruz... (5, Insightful)

MrSavage (2127458) | about a year ago | (#44450309)

I lived in Santa Cruz for the past 25 years. While crime is a problem, THE REAL PROBLEM, is the political leaders of the city. They have created the bum problem by offering them social services (to the nth degree), being lax on convicting criminals, making headaches for businesses with too much regulation and sticking their heads in the sand when people point out these problems. If these politicians would take off their rose-colored glasses, or get voted out by the populace, Santa Cruz might be able to bring in some business.

Re:The biggest problem in Santa Cruz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450507)

The problem is that the leaders keep being voted in by clueless college students who feel that "all the bums need is love" and the problem is over. Watching people give $100 bills to the panhandlers on street corners just means that more will flock to the area.

Of course, there is nothing that can be done. Vagrancy laws are unfair and don't work (police don't want to arrest the hobos, since the bums will poop in the cop car, taking the officer and the car out of commission for 3-4 hours while the car is decontaminated.) Luring them out of the town by free food doesn't work, since the street corners are good money.

Only thing you can do is just leave SC to the hobos and students, bite the bullet and move somewhere friendlier to the worker bees.

Re:The biggest problem in Santa Cruz... (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44450999)

When I visited Venice Beach last summer on a business trip, I was amazingly surprised at how polite most of the homeless people there were. There wasn't a constant nagging for "money for bus fare", a handful of pennies for a cigarette, or any of the type of nonsense you find among homeless elsewhere.

I found this in stark contrast to the homeless in Santa Cruz. You'd think that the two cities would be similar in many ways; beach bums, boardwalk, tourists, expensive ocean view properties, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Per capita, I have never been to a city with a worse homeless problem than Santa Cruz. While that doesn't mean a whole lot considering the majority of my travels have been across the Western US, but this does include other cities like Denver, Boulder, Reno/Tahoe, Vegas, LA, SF, Seattle (the homeless there are just creepy), and Phoenix.

Regarding Seattle: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44452357)

Creepy how?

"maker"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450173)

That has to be one of the stupidest neologisms in recent memory.

Re:"maker"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451275)

"maker" ..
That has to be one of the stupidest neologisms in recent memory.

It's one of the more insightful neologisms. The country's gone to the dogs because not much is made in the US anymore and so the industrial infrastructure has unravelled. At least the amateur makers are trying to reverse the trend from the grass roots. They're counteracting the destruction of manufacturing industry perpetuated in boardrooms across the nation.

No. It's in California (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450265)

Both people and businesses are leaving high-tax, high-regulation California for low tax states like Texas. Especially since California takes 9.3% of the income of all you millionaires making more than $46,766 a year [tax-brackets.org] .

Detroit is a foretaste of what California cities will look like 40 years from now.

Re:No. It's in California (1)

Roblimo (357) | about a year ago | (#44450457)

WHAT? California is going to get cold and snowy?
I hope that doesn't happen in Florida, too.

"pothead programmer" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450275)

"Since the countercultural revolution half a century ago, Santa Cruz has drawn more than its share of freaks, hippies, surf rats, pothead programmers"

Glad I live in Aptos, don't want to be labeled a "pothead programmer"

Re:"pothead programmer" (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44451013)

"Pot dealer" would seem more appropriate for Aptos or Capitola.

sales taxes up to 10% and a huge homeless problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450341)

why the fuck would anyone live under that?

give me some place that it is cold all year round so the bums stay away

Borland/Seagate were in Scotts Valley! (4, Informative)

stevew (4845) | about a year ago | (#44450345)

" Plantronics, Borland Software, SCO, Seagate Technologies, and Netflix"

Of these - Borland & Seagate were both located in Scotts Valley NOT Santa Cruz (the city). Scotts Valley is in Santa Cruz County but those are two entirely different entities/locations. Looking at the Netflix website - their Corp HQ is now in Los Gatos on the right side of the Hwy 17 hump!

Re:Borland/Seagate were in Scotts Valley! (1)

adri (173121) | about a year ago | (#44450419)

For good reason. The 17 is a total nightmare during summer and during peak hours. Having to drive to Santa Cruz each day for work would suck. But moving there would isolate you from the rest of the bay area. That may be what you want but it's a high price to pay for a job.

Re:Borland/Seagate were in Scotts Valley! (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about a year ago | (#44450593)

Actually, reverse commute is nothing. So long as you are not working on the weekends, you would be flying over the hill both ways if you lived in the valley and worked in SC. Having lived there for many years and commuted before rush hour each day, I can say that the 'isolation' is completely what you are used to. If you are used to lots of highways, malls, and suburbia, then SC will not be for you. If you like the ocean, mountains, laid back life and can get a job there, I'd think for many it would be utopia....hence the purpose of this title post to get more businesses over there so people don't have to commute and can perhaps surf before coming into the office.

Re:Borland/Seagate were in Scotts Valley! (1)

adri (173121) | about a year ago | (#44451665)

Right. Then you grow your business, you need more people there.. oh wait. Not everyone wants to live in Santa Cruz. So you have to move.

Re:Borland/Seagate were in Scotts Valley! (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about a year ago | (#44451003)

kind of like everyone puts Downey, Thousand Oaks, etc all as "Los Angeles." hey I remember Borland and when they bought out some other company the president or CEO said "our people were working 12 hour days, now they will work 16!" as if working very long hours was honorable thing to do.

Highway 17, I commuted it for only 3 month duration. I never was inducted into the Highway 17 Page of Shame (was before the internet), gone but archived on wayback machine:
http://web.archive.org/web/19990127223641/http://www.got.net/~egallant/guilty.html [archive.org]

Re:Borland/Seagate were in Scotts Valley! (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year ago | (#44451479)

I was going to correct the same things... ...and the 1989 quake was NOT the "San Francisco" earthquake, despite it being recorded on the World Series coverage and obviously affecting SF a lot.

Re:Borland/Seagate were in Scotts Valley! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44453287)

Netflix was also located in Scotts Valley before it moved to Los Gatos.

The trouble with Santa Cruz (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44450369)

Great place to live if you like to surf. I have a surfer friend there. She lives three blocks from the beach. But it's not a high-tech place.

Highway 17, which connects San Jose to Santa Cruz, isn't a freeway. There are non-interchange intersections all along its length. This is because of opposition at the Santa Cruz end. Caltrans would like to make it a freeway, and put in a center barrier to reduce collisions. [santacruzsentinel.com] Even that was opposed. "The barrier makes residents and his business feel isolated", whined the owner of a motel. (Cars can no longer make left turns across traffic to get to his motel.)

According to the article, the biggest private employer in Santa Cruz is Plantronics, which makes headsets. 500 employees. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is an amusement park, has about 600, but it's seasonal. Santa Cruz is a seaside resort town. There's just not much industry there.

Then there's the mind-set, which is way too laid back to get much done. It's also very retro. There are towns near Santa Cruz which are still stuck in the hippie '60s, flower-print granny dresses and all.

The big industrial growth area near Silicon Valley is Fremont. It's hot and boring, but Tesla is there. So is Gillig, the bus maker. There's serious manufacturing in Fremont. There are jobs available now in Fremont for CNC machine operators, robot assemblers, automatic screw machine maintainers, master mechanics, and vacuum manufacturing technicians. Current Santa Cruz job openings: school crossing guard, dental receptionist, social worker, pool attendant, dog companion.

Re:The trouble with Santa Cruz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450665)

There are also vampires, and Coreys.

Re:The trouble with Santa Cruz (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year ago | (#44451501)

Wait a second, there are cement barriers in the center along much of Highway 17.

Re:The trouble with Santa Cruz (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44452317)

Wait a second, there are cement barriers in the center along much of Highway 17.

It's not a limited access highway. There are driveways and road intersections. Some intersections have breaks in the barrier and left turn lanes, without signals. That's a big source of accidents. Locals complain if they have to drive too far to cross the road, which is why the barrier has breaks. There's only one overpass in the mountain area, at Summit Road. Locals complain about proposals to build more overpasses. They're a "freeway facility".

Re:The trouble with Santa Cruz (1)

hguorbray (967940) | about a year ago | (#44451565)

correction -Gillig is actually in Hayward across 92 from where I'm at now -25800 Clawiter Rd, Hayward, CA 94545

but yeah The East Bay between Fremont and Hayward is definitely growing as a tech/mfg area

The Desi population here is so high that when Netflix shows me what other people in the area are watching it is Bollywood flicks

-I'm just sayin'

Re:The trouble with Santa Cruz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44453153)

This is very misleading. Highway 17 is divided for its _entire length_ except for four brief interruptions to allow turns:

1. Vine Hill Road
2. Sugar Loaf Road
3. Glenwood Cut-off
4. Glenwood Road ...and for the short straightaway at the summit that has a center turn lane and ample visibility.

That article was about the closure of the short break in the divider at Laurel Road. The divider itself has been there since the 1980s. You don't seem to be familiar with the road at all.

Develop sideways (1)

smprather (941570) | about a year ago | (#44450561)

Build an office park on The Mystery Spot, if you can find it.

Lax marijuana laws and HIGH DRUG CRIME (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450689)

As a Santa Cruz resident I'm sick of people living outside SC making a big fuss about how marijuana is handled here.

We have incredible problems with drug related crime, for cocaine, meth, AND marijuana.

I loved living here before drugs ruined this place and turned it into a crime ridden shithole. It will always be my home, but the drug-slinging gang members AS WELL AS the pothead students with their never ending thirst for drugs ruined things.

So fuck the submitter for making a big deal about weed, because weed is what's killing my home.

Re:Lax marijuana laws and HIGH DRUG CRIME (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44451409)

Because clearly it's the people who do the drugs are at fault. Not the people or laws making them illegal (and therefore letting violent dealers thrive). Yep...

Re:Lax marijuana laws and HIGH DRUG CRIME (2)

neminem (561346) | about a year ago | (#44451995)

Seriously? I grew up there, I still visit a couple times a year, and I haven't found it to be a "crime ridden shithole" anywhere except Beach Flats, and Beach Flats has *always* been a shithole. Kind of ironic that it's so close to the biggest tourist attraction, but you just know never to walk around there. Anywhere else in the city, even downtown, has never felt particularly dangerous to me. I've never actually seen a single drug deal take place, nor been propositioned for one, anywhere in the city (which is definitely *not* true of either downtown SF or LA).

Sure, I can smell people smoking pot if I walk around downtown sometimes, but I really have no problem with people smoking pot, being as how there's no good reason for it to be illegal (given that it's less dangerous than booze, and less harmful than tobacco). I only have a problem with drug *crime*, and that has always seemed to roughly limit itself to the one tiny crappy part of town that everyone else avoids.

Atmosphere (1)

Y2K is bogus (7647) | about a year ago | (#44450805)

The Santa Cruz atmosphere is certainly unique, it gives many people the heebie jeebies.

On any given Wednesday (farmers market) you will be bombarded by a litany of drug addled homeless people looking to score some food, cash, or drugs. It is a terrible blight on Santa Cruz and leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who get out of SC. The streets are dirty, foul odors emanate from the alleys that act as both throughways for local workers and garbage repositories for the restaurants.

Another significant problem with SC is parking, the City owns almost all of it because the zoning allowed builders to do whatever they want, and the City supports the parking load for them. In other parts of the City you must have a given number of parking spaces for a given square footage, it's a zoning requirement, but not in the heart (downtown). So parking is totally jacked up and costs a fortune. If you're lucky, thieves won't target your vehicle. There is only 1 city owned lot that is free to park in anymore, they just added gates to the 3 story garage on Front and River streets.

When strolling down the sidewalks, commuting between the parking lots and work, you may be asked for a handout or assaulted by someone else's secondhand smoke. The City doesn't enforce it's own outside smoking ban, much less enforce the Medical Marijuana statutes, which leaves the rest of us to hold our breath while the dope head in front of us is toking on a pipe.

I have worked in downtown SC on 3 different occasions, and all 3 have left me with the same opinion: it's a dirty and does not convey the clean and inviting atmosphere that businesses -- and their employees -- expect. The sooner I can GTFO, the better.

Re:Atmosphere (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44452241)

There is only 1 city owned lot that is free to park in anymore, they just added gates to the 3 story garage on Front and River streets.

Yup. That's why I've started eating supper in Scotts Valley instead of Santa Cruz. Why would I pay to park and walk nearly a mile to a Santa Cruz downtown restaurant when I can just as easily stop in Scotts Valley on the way down, park right in front of the business, and get the same food in half the time, without the hassle of dealing with parking stations or having to carry cash for parking meters? When Santa Cruz decides to get serious about revitalizing the downtown by adding enough free parking to make shopping feasible, I'll frequent their downtown businesses again. Until then, if you ask me, the entire downtown is just a waste of perfectly good space.

Housing costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44450883)

The rent is too damn high. heheh. During the depths of the housing crash, housing was *almost* reasonable... if you were willing to take a chance on getting crushed by trees and landslides during the next El Nino. Something in a safer zone (less the unavoidable earthquake hazard)? Not to be found.

It's hard enough to start-up when you're cut off from the Valley by that windy crazy, route 17 mountain pass. It's even worse when you're almost paying Si Valley rent or mortgage. You might as well just go where everybody else is, which is actually trending further north towards SF.

Now, if you really want to hang it out on the cheap and start-up away (but not too far) from the Valley, there are a few pockets of affordability where you can scrape by and still have some chance of surfing (but not be right by the beach, sorry, it's just not possible any more). I'm not talking about it though.

Of course you could always go guerilla and just live illegally. People do it. People live in cars in Palo Alto. I know a guy that lived in a trailer in a parking lot back in the 80s, because even then rent was pricey. That's not everybody's cup of tea though. Wondering if the knock on the door is gonna come isn't conducive to productivity.

In other words. It ain't happenin' for a variety of reasons, just one of which is the ridiculous cost of finding a place to put your head for the night.

Santa Cruz - SCO... (2)

dpbsmith (263124) | about a year ago | (#44451101)

When I think of Santa Cruz, all I can think of is SCO (Santa Cruz Operation). My mental picture of Santa Cruz is one of suits bringing lawsuits.

Re:Santa Cruz - SCO... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44451711)

When I think of Santa Cruz, all I can think of is SCO (Santa Cruz Operation). My mental picture of Santa Cruz is one of suits bringing lawsuits.

Wait wait wait. Santa Cruz Operations was a decent company that actually produced a useful product. The company that called itself "SCO" was a patent troll. The only significant thing in common besides the acronym is the IP. (Or, rather, what SCO thought they had in IP.)

"But that was all a long time ago." (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44451689)

Did anyone else read that in Eric Bana's voice?

Not Getting It (1)

BrendaEM (871664) | about a year ago | (#44451763)

First, the "beach bums" invented surfing as you know it.
Santa Cruz seems more organic than many of the neighboring cities. It's more family-like. Yes, there are poor people there; but many of them are creative and artsy.

The relationship between "pot smoking" and counter-productivity is bullshit. Forget your stupid antiquated corporate policies, because drugs may in-fact fuel some of the creativity in this area. Even Apple would not have been where they are without some drug use. This is the land of Aspies, and some of us are screwed together just a little too tight to be creative programmers and engineers, yes--without drugs.

In the end, the initiative just looks like an attempt for companies to exploit Santa Cruz's cheaper land, meanwhile, there are so many empty buildings in San Jose and up the peninsula.

Blast from the Past (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about a year ago | (#44452201)

Borland Software

Wow, there's a name I haven't heard in a long time.

The Problem With Santa Cruz (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44452721)

The Problem With Santa Cruz is not any of the shit you people think it is. I was born there, I return there when I get a chance to visit friends, I'm on the nostalgia group on failbook. And it's that latter that really gives me insight into what the actual problem is.

The actual problem with Santa Cruz is gentrification. We had way more hippies and bums in Santa Cruz in the 80s and there was way less crime then. But you can't reasonably commute into Santa Cruz for a low-wage job, and you can't reasonably afford to live in Santa Cruz if that's what you're making. As well, the city shut down homeless encampments and basically chased those people back into the city to live under bridges.

Santa Cruz was strong on tech because of its proximity to the university. It not only brought a steady stream of CS majors to the area, but it also brought high-speed internet access well ahead of neighboring regions, which enabled tech industry growth. Today it has nothing to offer besides atmosphere. Since people have demonstrated their willingness to suffer horrible commutes to live in Santa Cruz, there is no benefit to isolating yourself by siting there.

Companies grow up in Santa Cruz county in spite of their location, not because of it.

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