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Frequently Asked Questions

What is 831 Water Street?

831 Water Street is a unique step in the next generation of the Santa Cruz community. Divided into two four- and five-story buildings, this multi-use development will include 145 livable units in an innovative environment. It includes 71 units of affordable housing and 69 units of middle-income housing, the “missing middle” for local workers. It will also offer five live/work units in the ground floor of the mixed- and market-rate building. It has been declared a “Walker’s Paradise” and a “Biker’s Paradise” by Walk Score, and is within walking or biking distance to downtown Santa Cruz, Whole Foods, CVS, Shoppers Corner, UC Santa Cruz and many jobs. It is also located along a major transit corridor.

Why is it advantageous for Santa Cruz?

  • Encourages walking, biking, transit use and healthy living;

  • Provides new housing for low- and very-low income residents, as well as moderate-income households;

  • Promotes inclusivity and diversity through mixed-income approach; 

  • Serves vulnerable populations like those with disabilities, homeless youth and veterans;

  • Offers sustainable infill housing that reduces green-house gas emissions, more efficient water usage and 100% electric through renewable sources

Won’t it impact parking in nearby neighborhoods?

No. The project includes sufficient parking for residential and commercial parking demand. By unbundling parking from car-free households and individuals will make parking spaces available to those who need them.

What about traffic? Isn’t it located at a busy intersection?

Dense multifamily housing that encourages walking, biking and transit use is a strategy to reduce green-house gases and vehicle miles traveled. The project has a Walk Score® of 92 by Walker's Paradise and a Bike Score of 99 by Biker’s Paradise, so daily errands do not require a car. The site is within walking or biking distance to many shopping centers and jobs. This amenity-rich location along a major transit corridor helps to promote healthy living.

What about the local groundwater? Won’t the 831 Water Street Development impact that?


No. The below-grade garage has been designed to pull away from neighboring fences and includes all necessary engineering to manage groundwater. The site is well served by existing infrastructure, including a large storm drain directly adjacent to the project. 

This Branciforte corner is one of the first settlements in Northern California. Isn’t it historically protected?

Novin Development will have representatives of the Santa Cruz historical society and Native American heritage available to review any specific findings in the construction of the development.

Neighbors and other residents have had concerns about the size and scope of the development. Has Novin Development even considered those concerns?

Novin Developed has seen and heard the concerns of the residents, and has considerably altered the size and scope of the project. This includes eliminating plans for a rooftop bar, cutting back the height of the buildings and revising the size of the project. We strive to be a good neighbor in all things.

What is “Affordable Housing?”

Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) limits are based on surveys of local area median income (AMI). The commonly used income categories are approximately as follows, subject to variations for household size and other factors:

  • Extremely low income: 0-30% of AMI

  • Very low income: 30% to 50% of AMI

  • Lower income: 50% to 80% of AMI; the term may also be used to mean 0% to 80% of AMI

  • Moderate income: 80% to 120% of AMI

“Affordable housing cost” for lower-income households is defined in California state law as not more than 30 percent of gross household income with variations (Health and Safety Code Section 50052.5). The comparable federal limit, more widely used, is 30 percent of gross income, with variations. “Housing cost” commonly includes rent or mortgage payments, utilities (gas, electricity, water, sewer, garbage, recycling, green waste), and property taxes and insurance on owner-occupied housing. 

What is SB 35? Doesn’t it cut out community input?

No. While SB 35 makes developer-sponsored community meetings optional, Novin Development has hosted one already and is participating in a second City-sponsored community meeting on Aug. 12. This is consistent with the City of Santa Cruz’s two community-meeting policy for major projects.

Doesn’t SB 35 jump over regulated city planning laws?

No. SB 35 requires consistency with all adopted local objective design standards.

Won’t the units designated as market-rate cost too much for locals it claims to serve, like teachers, firefighters and police officers?

Units within the “missing middle” portion of the project will be between 80%-120% AMI. Some of these units will be deed restricted at 80% AMI, which will ensure they serve teachers, firefighters and police officers. Two teachers in a single household earn closer to 120% AMI. By providing a range of housing options, we hope to serve the broad spectrum of need.

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