In case you haven’t heard, the Skyview Drive-In’s days are numbered:
I’ve received a couple of e-mails from friends of mine, looking for signatures on a petition to save the Skyview Drive-In. I’ve gone to many a movie at the Skyview, and spent more than a few weekends browsing the aisles at the weekend flea markets they have there. And, I know that Drive-Ins are precious historical sites from a by-gone era, and that still having the Skyview further adds to the uniqueness of Santa Cruz.
Having said that, let’s look at the property from another perspective. There’s a little principal in Real Estate that we call “highest and best use.” The State of California kind of drums this idea into licensees when they are studying: land should be put to its highest and best use. That kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? When something is put to its highest and best use, though, this is always done in the context of the zoning ordinances which are applicable to the area where the property is located. Of course, one way to fast cash in real estate is to buy a property with one zoning, and work the city council or board of supervisors to have the zoning changed to allow for, shall we say, more profitable development of the property.
However, the Skyview Drive-In is already zoned C-2 – that’s for commercial use. So there it sits, in the middle of the county, on a principal traffic artery (Soquel Drive), near our freeway – 14.398 acres of prime, flat land – in a county with very little prime, flat land available. Now, you have to ask yourself – is a Drive-In the best possible use of this parcel?
Much as I have enjoyed the Skyview, and much as I will miss it when it goes – I have to say that it’s pretty clear that there could be much better use made of this property. Like, for example – Doctor’s offices? Medical Clinics? The new owner is the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which runs the nearby Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center, as well as the Santa Cruz Medical Foundation. Whatever it is they will do with the property, a couple of things seem apparent:
1) It will provide much higher property tax revenue for Santa Cruz county than the Skyview did
2) It will provide many more, and much higher paying, jobs than the Skyview did.
3) It will, apparently, provide for improved health care in Santa Cruz county.
Given all of that, it’s easy for me to support the re-development of the Skyview as a medical campus. I’m sure the flea market will live on, somehow, somewhere. As for the Drive-In Theater – yes, it’s sad. But time marches on.