Local Office Occupancy Falls

As unemployment took a small downturn locally and nationally this fiscal quarter, office space vacancy rose in Santa Cruz County, to the dismay of landlords.

Last quarter, 15.2 percent of Santa Cruz County residents were unemployed, while 9.7 percent of the country was unemployed nationally. County unemployment has dropped slightly this quarter to 14.6 percent, mirroring the reduction to 8.8 percent federally.

However, despite reduced unemployment, office space availability in Santa Cruz County has risen since last quarter. Of the office space in the county, 12.5 percent is vacant, up from 12.3 percent last quarter, according to a first quarter report on the office market in Santa Cruz County by commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley.

Most instances of vacancy are concentrated in the Scotts Valley area, where vacancy rose from 19.2 percent to 19.8 percent since last quarter, according to the report.

“The problem is that demand remains extremely weak,” the report said, “and leasing activity continues to be dominated by renewals and relocations that are accounting for virtually no occupancy growth.”

This means currently there aren’t new businesses clamoring to occupy office space in Santa Cruz County. This could be a result of the high cost of rent ($1.85 per square foot monthly on average), or that businesspeople are discouraged by the competitive, depressed market.

The report presented a fairly optimistic view of the future. While progress is expected to be slow, according to the report, it will come.

“Look for leasing activity to slowly build momentum,” according to the report, “but it will be next year before we see anything approaching significant positive net absorption or rental rate growth.”


New Parenting Program Launched in Santa Cruz

The Positive Parenting Program, a nationwide program that has been functioning for nearly three decades, is now launching its official program in Santa Cruz County.

According to a press release, the goals for the program — known as Triple P — are to offer, among other things, information and support to struggling parents in the area.

Susan True, director of First Five Santa Cruz County — a group whose mission it is to assure that every child reaches the age of five “ready to achieve to their greatest potential” — said she was glad the Triple P program was spreading to Santa Cruz.

“What we’re looking to do is improve the quality of the parent-to-child relationship,” True said.

First Five was instated due to Proposition 10, passed in 1998, which aimed to create a First Five Commission in every county across the state of California. Money generated for First Five Commissions comes from a 50-cent tax on cigarette packs, and funds programs like Triple P.

The pilot for Triple P began less than a year ago, but participation has remained high. True planned to expand slowly, but now is happy to have the full launch of the program.

True said that Triple P was open to every parent, from the parents with common, everyday problems to those with serious issues that can endanger child development. The program focuses on things like bedtime routines, sibling fights or even just getting through a shopping trip without a meltdown from the child.

“You don’t have to be a parent who is really struggling,” True said. “You could just have an everyday problem. So we wanted that kind of acceptable parenting information to be available [to Santa Cruz County].”