Monday, August 10, 2009

Santa Cruz-ing

This past weekend I did my second round of apartment hunting with my daughter in Santa Cruz so she and her beau can have a place to live while they go to community college there. The college is actually in Aptos (with a soft "o" rhyming with boss) a little north on Hwy 1 of the Cruz. Aptos is a lovely bedroom community on the beach with virtually no low cost apartments. We went to the only property management company there and were treated with lethargy if not downright disdain. I guess it is a seller's market because we simply could not get an apartment through them. Kate and Chris applied for 4 apartments the last time and the property managers did not return phone calls. And they would not allow co-signors which would suggest that the apartment owners really do not want students. Funny because many of the people I saw looking were students.

This time we looked in Santa Cruz itself and some of the surrounding communities. Two of the apartments we saw for about $1000/month were tiny studios (one so small that a twin bed made it look crowded and cluttered) and located in crack central i.e near the boardwalk. As one person put it, all you heard was the sound of screams from the roller coaster. Better than the sounds of screams from someone being mugged by the down on their luck people walking on the streets. Call me crazy but I do not want my beautiful young daughter walking around at night from her car to her apartment amidst drug addicts and psychotics. I finally convinced her that she left San Francisco to get away from that type of street life for a while, which, at least in SF, is mitigated by other types of people on the street. One of these studios was in a back building of a a historic building called the Golden Gate Villa. It was really very nice and my daughter was torn until I pointed out that everyone on the street at 7:30 p.m. was yelling at people we could not see and there was no secure parking spot.

Santa Cruz during the summer is crowded and the hotels jack up their prices for the weekend. I paid twice the nightly rate at Holiday Inn Express to stay Saturday night than I did two weeks ago for weekday nights. It is hard to park downtown where the only movie theaters are and on Saturday night we missed a showing of Julie and Julia because we took so long to find parking the movie was sold out. So we walked around and looked at the street scene which reminded us a bit of Burlington VT with the street musicians and the drug addicts sharing space. We started to wonder where the mellow was.

On Saturday we also looked at a couple of rooms in houses on the so-called westside which was much more appealing than the areas near the boardwalk, downtown and the hotel. Neither place, however, worked out. One was like a boarding house and too crowded for my daughter's taste and the other too expensive for mine. So we also drove out into the Santa Cruz mountains to look at two places in Ben Lomond, a small town about 15 minutes away from Hwy 1 in Santa Cruz. We liked both places but worried about the commute. Mother and daughter anxiety started to fester and cause a lot of yelling and cursing at each other. Finally the owner of one of the Ben Lomond places called on Sunday to say Kate could have the apartment. Leon Festinger and cognitive dissonance strikes again as the anxiety went away and she concluded she loved the place notwithstanding the commute. This reaction after much doubt about whether this move to Santa Cruz was such a good idea--doubt that persisted even after several glasses of wine on Saturday night.

The one high point of the trip for me was finding a Sri Lankan restaurant on Friday night. The restaurant, called Pearl of the Ocean, was run by these lovely young women who served us plentiful delicious food and a wonderful home made sweet tea. Sri Lankan food is somewhat like Indian food but with a lot of garbanzo beans and coconut flavors. We had a Chicken Tikki Masala which was divine and some very tasty curry side dishes. We also gobbled up a plate of pakoras and left feeling overly full but happy.

It took us 10 hours to drive home yesterday because we got stuck in fog and very bad traffic around Santa Barbara for an hour and a half. At least we were successful in finding a place for the kids to live.
ADDENDUM 8/12/09 An article today in the LA Times reminds me that downtown/boardwalk Santa Cruz is mellow compared to LA Skid Row. No one should have to live in such conditions. Unfortunately this is the public face of homelessness and as Kate says no one thinks about the large number of women and children who are homeless.

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