Pacific Cultural Center Purchase

District to purchase Pacific Cultural Center
Posted on 03/26/2024
This is the image for the news article titled District to purchase Pacific Cultural CenterSanta Cruz City Schools is finalizing purchase of the Pacific Cultural Center property across from Gault Elementary, on Seabright and Broadway. Our goal is to use this space for a meeting and event center, as well as a safe drop-off area for Gault parents.

Since its construction in 1948, this building has been a familiar part of the neighborhood. It makes sense there will be a lot of questions about changes. Such as:

How is the project being funded?
With State reimbursement funds. Normally, the state provides no dedicated funding for school facilities. Almost all building, modernization or purchases have to be funded by facilities bonds, the frequency of which are decided by the community. The state provided reimbursement recently, however, for the roofing projected of Gault school. This left the district in the unusual position of having restricted facilities funds at the same time that a long-vacant property seemed to fit so many of the needs our Gault community has made clear to us in recent years.

What is planned for the property?
Our need is for a meeting & event space, as well as a safe drop-off area for Gault families. The good news is, the parking and drop-off area is mostly ready to go. It is likely we will seek to remove a planter and outbuilding from the back of the lot to create some more room for a drop-off corridor and staff parking. This has been a top request for Gault neighbors.

How would the space be used?
There are a lot of regular meetings and uses for which the district has no established home, such as: District-wide teacher collaboration meetings, Staff professional development, Parent Leader meetings, the District English Learner Advocacy Committee, community tax and bond oversight committees, District leadership collaboration meetings, regular Board meetings as well as special events and school community events.

Drop-off safety has come up consistently as a community priority at Gault School, where there is no drop-off area and no ability to create one in the limited space of the school site. Each of our other 4 elementary schools in the district is able to provide a drop-off area protected from traffic except Gault. The current PCC parking area could serve as a safe drop-off, with our dedicated crossing guard able to safely supervise students reaching Gault school. 

Also, any building we own is also available for public reservation through our facilities use processes. Any local groups, organizations or classes who need space could reserve it throughout the week.

What is planned for the main building?
There are two options: refurbish or replace. The State requires that schools and buildings serving students and public school staff meet higher standards for seismic safety than regular building permitting. Currently, the district is exploring the feasibility of retrofitting the existing building, which was constructed in 1948, to meet the current public school requirements.

What happens if the main building can't meet code?
If it can't be brought to code, it will be replaced with a new building of similar size and layout. There has been some discussion in the community that the main building may be replaced by "a classroom," which is not accurate. In the event that we are advised by structural engineers that this building cannot feasibly be refurbished to be earthquake safe, our priority is to build a permanent building with comparable capacity and footprint as the current structure.

What happens next?
We will let you know when we know. In a lot of ways, it would be easiest if minor retrofitting could bring the building up to safety code. At this point, that isn't what we're expecting, but we're exploring that avenue first.

We're hopeful this space can once again be a thriving cross-roads in our community, connecting teachers and families from all over town in a common meeting place. We hope it will be home to a center for learning collaboration, and home to events and music going forward as kids and families and school staffs have a place like this in midtown to house all the cultural and community events that make our schools such vital points of contact in Santa Cruz.

Until then, we are here to answer any questions you have. Feel free to reach out to [email protected]. Thanks!
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