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Community Spirit: Residents of Beach Flats came together on an April Sunday for a community clean-up day.

A Beach Flats homeowner wannabe sees traffic and gentrification in the neighborhood's future

'YOU DON'T WANT to see 10 to 12 people packed in a house," Rebecca Cooper says. "At the same time, if redevelopment does happen, I think they're going to make it more upscale. You know, gentrification? You have to wonder where people are going to go. Even if some houses are left standing, I have a feeling property values are going to soar."

Cooper moved to Beach Flats with her husband about three years ago. She confesses to having mixed feelings about most aspects of the redevelopment plans and asked that her real name not be used to protect her housing situation--she doesn't want to risk losing her house by publicly criticizing her landlords.

"I didn't hear about the plans until a neighbor told me she'd heard a rumor about redevelopment and called the Planning Department," she says. "I went and looked at plans more than a year ago, in October."

"It's all so vague, and I've heard so many different things. The plans are so hard to understand, and English is my native language. Some changes could be very positive. But how is anybody going to become a homeowner?

"We were going to buy our home, and the landlords were planning on financing us. Instead they sold it for cash to the Seaside Company. I don't blame them; they got a big chunk of cash instead of a slow trickle of money from us."

Cooper has just begun looking into the Home Owner Incentive Program but says she thinks those plans are also vague. When asked about her biggest problems with the neighborhood, she says without hesitation, "I've never had problems with the people who live here. It's the people who don't," she says. "I don't see how they're going to deal with more people and cars here. Setting up a little shuttle service and putting up some extra bike racks isn't going to solve traffic problems."

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From the April 30-May 6, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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