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City manager: Watsonville becoming safer, attracting businesses

Total crime down 9 percent

WATSONVILLE—Total crime is down nine percent, businesses are moving in and parks are getting a facelift.

Those were all highlights from Wednesday night’s fourth annual State of the City, a yearly public report on Watsonville’s progress presented by City Manager Matt Huffaker in the Civic Plaza.

Along with total crime being down, person crime and property crime were down 17.8 percent and 29.5 percent, respectively.

Crimes involving drugs and alcohol were up 36.4 percent, but Huffaker said that was largely due to increased liquor law and DUI enforcement from Watsonville Police Department.

“Through the department of justice (DOJ) grants we’ve been very successful in increasing enforcement in that area, so much so that the DOJ granted a second grant, which is very rare for a city to receive,” said Huffaker, who called Watsonville “one of the safest cities in the region.”

Huffaker also said WPD is fully staffed for the first time in “many years,” and that there is a waitlist of officers that are interested in joining the ranks.

“That’s a true testament of the department we have and the positive culture that others want to be part of,” Huffaker said.

Vehicle-pedestrian collisions, however, were still an area in which Watsonville struggled, as there have been 72 injuries and two fatalities in the city this year.

“That’s going to be a major area of focus going forward,” Huffaker said. “One death is too many.”

Huffaker also focused on new businesses and housing developments coming soon.

In downtown, the Slice Project pizza restaurant will soon open at the old Fox Theater location, and The Residence apartment complex, which is set to begin construction next spring, has secured a sushi restaurant as a tenant on its first floor.

Watsonville’s cannabis industry has also started to stabilize. The six cultivators and nine manufacturers are now creating $400K per year for the City in various taxes. Huffaker also said the city will soon weigh allowing the retail sale and delivery of cannabis products.

The City has also OK’d nearly 500 housing units over the last five years, including roughly 170 affordable units.

Construction is also planned at Ramsay Park and the historic City Plaza, both of which now have long-awaited master plans that lay out the future upgrades for each park.

For the full State of the City address see video below: 

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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