Amazon expands in Santa Cruz, adds to surf city’s housing woes: report

Santa Cruz, the lovely coastal escape for Silicon Valley denizens, has become famous of late for the great white sharks that frequent the waters just offshore.

But there’s another super predator in town, one of the world’s most aggressive companies, and it’s expanding.

Amazon quietly moved into Santa Cruz about two years ago, media reports indicate. According to a June report in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, a sister publication to SiliconBeat and the Mercury News, Amazon Web Services opened up shop in the city by the Monterey Bay in 2015. And in June, the company said it was hiring 23 people to work on the firm’s mobile application for Amazon Marketplace vendors.

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Now, Amazon’s workforce has grown to more than 100 people, toiling away on hardware, software, web services, mobile shopping and the company’s popular virtual assistant Alexa, according to a new report.

And those new techies are apparently putting pressure on a housing market where an average one-bedroom apartment rents for more than $2,000 a month and the average house goes for more than $800,000.

But unlike in the Bay Area, where resistance to tech expansion has led to company shuttle buses being blocked and even vandalized, opposition to Amazon in Santa Cruz has been relatively minimal, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported Oct. 11.

“Officials say that as Amazon grows, contributing in part to a deepening housing crunch around the city, the pushback against the e-commerce giant hasn’t been as fierce as with other big brands that have tried to call Santa Cruz home,” according to the paper.

Local honchos said Amazon could anchor a tech scene that would attract talent and venture capital to the city, the paper reported.

“You need some of those anchors in order to support the fuller tech ecosystem,” said Bonnie Lipscomb, the city’s director of economic development.

And the Seattle e-commerce giant, which currently has cities all over America promising bodacious tax breaks and other incentives as they seek to be chosen for Amazon’s second headquarters, received no such gifts from Santa Cruz, the paper reported.

Amazon declined to show the paper around its Santa Cruz operation, but it said it was tapping into specialize research at nearby UC Santa Cruz, where it has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for student and faculty research, according to the paper.

“Santa Cruz is a great place for tech talent, quality of life and access to an innovative culture — from the university next door to startups sprinkled throughout town,” Ryan Melcher, Amazon’s Mobile Marketplace director, told the paper by email.

Melcher appeared to confirm that many of the firm’s workers were living close to the office.

“We’ve loved being in such a tight-knit community with an amazing quality of life, having creative technology-focused people wanting to live and work in the same small area, right on the beach,” he said.

As of Oct. 10, the firm had 17 job openings in Santa Cruz and is “still aggressively recruiting.”


Photo: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park (Wikimedia Commons/Matt314)


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  • Shelley Volante

    Welcome Amazon!

  • Jim

    Really?? 100 people would have zero significant effect on Santa Cruz. Perfect example of fake news. On a side note – any firm moving to, or hiring in Santa Cruz is just looking for trouble. It is a hostile, pro-zero or pro-negative growth environment.

    • Scott Le Grand

      I think a company that tried to be Uber for bums would do just great here. Bums as a Service: make your hometown look like the hottest neighborhoods in SF!

  • Scott Le Grand

    I’m curious how you connect 100 or so fewer people commuting over the 17 to our housing woes. Was this pulled out of your digestive endpoint or did one of our No GMO Free Range Grass-Fed Boomer NIMBYs feed that to you?

  • skeyewater

    Old news with a negative slant. Santa Cruz loves tech!