Santa Cruz County, California

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Santa Cruz, California
latitude: 37, longitude: -122
Browse Santa Cruz map 37° 0′ 0″ N, 122° 0′ 0″ W
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Santa Cruz is a county in California at latitude 37° 0′ 0″ North, longitude 122° 0′ 0″ West.


Upcoming events

UCSC Professor of Computer Engineering user:manduchi proposed McHenry Library for a Mapping Party. However, the professor and venue seem to be unavailable for this function in the near future. Professor Manduchi and his Computer Engineering 80A students did not contribute to OSM around Santa Cruz during Fall quarter of 2015. This class may once again make contributions in future academic quarters.

Who's up for organizing another mapping party?

In the meantime, there is now an active "Cake Map" for UCSC where you should feel free to take ownership of a slice if you can and will improve it.

Please feel free to suggest locations and goals for future events. A UCSC Mapping Party is a "next" good choice, as OSM needs added and improved additional footpaths as well as amenities like bicycle parking and drinking fountains. A good meeting place is Café Iveta at Quarry Plaza, as it is centrally-located, and serves delicious food and beverages.

Past events

University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Professor of Environmental Studies Millard-Ball used OSM at UCSC Winter 2016 in his ENVS 196 class to audit the pedestrian network on campus and use it as a model for improvements, including longer-term planning with the Campus Architect.

Santa_Cruz_Mapping_Party_June_2012 Wilder Ranch State Park

Santa_Cruz_Mapping_Party_July_2011 Wilder Ranch State Park

Santa_Cruz_Mapping_Party_May2009 Downtown



In 2009, user:Apo42 uploaded some of the open space conservation and/or recreational areas and all California State Park entities (from UC Davis-sourced CaSIL data) including those in Santa Cruz County. The vast remainder of the parks in the county (county, city and private) came from the SCCGIS import (see below). A small number of minor, usually city parks (e.g. La Barranca and Mimi De Marta) were added manually from non-SCCGIS sources.


In late 2009, user:srmixter (nmixter) imported official landuse=* zones from the Santa Cruz County GIS (SCCGIS) site. (But not without significant problems!)

The purpose of the SCCGIS landuse=* import was to add official zones for residential, industrial, commercial, parks, farms and forests. The import included (multi)polygons with tags of landuse=public_facility and landuse=special_use, which do not render. These were improved after the import was completed. As they don't display, we added supplemental tags (keeping original tags) based on observation and relevant to something rendered. For example, often a landuse=public_facility polygon can be seen via aerial imagery to be a water tower or sewage treatment facility, so we changed to landuse=industrial. Thus, we hewed to keeping the original data, as we avoided straying towards "coding for the renderers."

Imports are complete for Santa Cruz County. Thanks for your patience. I thought there should have been more zones loaded, but I checked with the shapefile, and it looks like they are all there. Unfortunately I had some problems with the script crashing so there may be some repeated areas and extra nodes. I'll go ahead and continue cleaning them up. Validator in JOSM usually does a good job of deleting the empty nodes. Feel free to adjust any of the layers so they better match the Yahoo/Bing imagery or are not overlapping. The import had two tags for landuse=*: public_facility and and special_use. These are obviously not rendered in OSM. So if you know a better use, feel free to add them. We prefer to keep these areas in OSM if possible. The project is all about the data not necessarily the rendering. I still have a lot of work to do to clean up the imports. Thanks again for your help and patience. - nmixter

Due to the upload script crashing, results occurred in two parts/versions. Unfortunately, there remained broken multipolygon remnants from these uploads, so JOSM's Validator reported multipolygon relations missing their outer member(s) and extra nodes to delete. We had hoped to establish a tag called something like upload_version=1, 2... (monotonically increasing integers) but didn't do so. However, a (multi)polygon WITH Zoning=* (which might have been tagged upload_version=2) is later than an otherwise-identical one WITHOUT Zoning=* (which might have been tagged upload_version=1). Likewise, Atribution=* was uppercased and misspelled in the first upload, but lowercased attribution=* in the second upload. As user:srmixter considers his version 1 & 2 uploads to be complete (see above paragraph), comprehensive work to clean them up (broken multipolygons and duplicate nodes, not the casing and spelling) was completed on the part of user:stevea in 2014: see the "landuse version 3" update below.

user:stevea took a more render-positive, yet still accurate approach to the landuse=special_use areas of srmixter's versions 1 & 2 landuse=* import which don't render: as Santa Cruz County is largely (over 2/3) wooded with redwood and mixed conifer/deciduous, special_use areas which are also completely or largely wooded (as viewed by Yahoo or Bing aerial/satellite imaging) are now additionally tagged natural=wood. This allows them to accurately render in mapnik where they otherwise wouldn't, as this rendering is based not on landuse=* but natural=. Some of these special_use areas have a minor amount of meadow instead of wood, so while these are wholly tagged as natural=wood they also have scattered landuse=meadow areas sprinkled over them where accurate. Technically this is a "double-overlap" of landuse=* ("special_use," meaningful only from the SCCGIS data upload, and "meadow," where appropriate), but as "special_use" doesn't render, wood is a natural tag, and meadow superimposes over wood, the effect is both accurate and visually rather pleasing. In some cases small details like buildings, man_made= features (water_tower, etc.) and highway=track or highway=path are also included on these landuse=special_use parcels. This hews to our consensus that emerged of "capturing zoning with landuse=* is a good first step to avoid large blank areas, but when actual on-the-ground data are also known, they are preferred to simple zoning (landuse=*)." So, active Santa Cruz County editors (should or do) know that having the County zoned with landuse=* from official data is a (renders pleasingly) good first step, but only just that. There is much more editing to do which, over time, will additionally improve these data with better accuracy and more details of what is actually "on the ground."

After several years (2009-2013) of effort by user:stevea to untangle user:srmixter's version 1 & 2 landuse=* imports, much cleanup was completed, but there remained messy problems (wrong/confusing multipolygons, duplicate polygons and nodes, misspelled tags...) especially in south county's agricultural lands and in the changing patchwork of parcels that make up Big Basin Redwood State Park, Big Creek Forests and the new San Vicente Redwoods (many thousands of hectares in the northwest county). To remedy this, user:stevea did an "import update" using newer SCCGIS data: specifically, the Zoning shapefile from SCCGIS's Landuse folder dated November 2013. These newest data ("version 3") contain tags of SHAPE_STAr and SHAPE_STLe instead of SHAPE_area and SHAPE_len, though replacement into OSM of any given version 1 or 2 (multi)polygon happened only as older data needed updating (correction or replacement). These (version 3) data have Attribution=Santa Cruz County GIS (contrasted with versions 1 and 2, above). Zones which inherited Zoning=RA are Residential-Agricultural (a live-on "family farm") and may oscillate between landuse=residential and landuse=farmland (improve them!) Zoning=CA means "Commercial Agricultural" and are more intensively farmed compared to Zoning=RA and do not (usually) include a residence. There may also be landuse=orchard or landuse=vineyard superimposed on some farmland (multi)polygons as viewed by Bing imagery. There are >3000 landuse polygons in these version 3 data, each of which were manually/visually compared to version 1 & 2 data and Bing imagery. As of May 18, 2014, this version 3 landuse=* update is complete.

It is suggested to any OSM volunteer who updates these data in the future that an explicit upload_version=4 tag be added to all newer uploaded data objects. Subsequent updates should use increasing integers (5, 6, 7...) to denote newer versions of objects.

Landuse areas inside of city limits (cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley, Watsonville) derive from sources other than SCCGIS (which is county only). Data inside of city limits have been directly experienced or are from public data sources other than SCCGIS.

Santa Cruz has won a Gold Star Award from, one of only a few places in North America to have achieved this accolade. The site notes that OSM (mapnik/Standard) displays "nearly perfect landuse!"


user:DanHomerick imported the Stream.shp layer of the Hydrography dataset from the Santa Cruz GIS site in October 2009. He used the Java program shp-to-osm-0.6.1 to convert the data from Shapefile format to OSM format and to upload it. Since, at the time of the import, shp-to-osm does not connect line segments he used the validator plugin in JOSM to merge overlapping nodes. This connected many stream segments correctly, but left some unconnected at the time of the import. Existing rivers were not programatically deleted, instead preferring to rely on manual verification before their deletion. Many of the imported streams were initially pointing the wrong direction (a way with a stream/river tag should point downstream). Work is underway to correct known issues with the import. Corrections to wrong-direction waterways are mostly complete as of Feb. 2010. However, JOSM's Validator plugin still reports dozens to hundreds of unconnected stream endpoints where they conjoin other streams (as of May 2014). One note about the tags used: many of the streams were listed as type "swale" (a low lying area) in the original dataset. These were translated as waterway=stream + intermittent=yes + note=swale for the upload, but in many cases, especially near the mouth of a stream, a swale may not actually have intermittent flow. As intermittent=yes now appears to affect the Mapnik rendering (with a dashed light blue line), the tag should be deleted in cases where it is inaccurate.

County Boundary

In early 2010 user:Apo42 uploaded CaSIL-based county-boundary data for all of California, including Santa Cruz County. The Santa Cruz County boundary was harmonized by user:stevea. In particular, the southern boundary displayed centuries of flooding and re-coursing of the Pajaro River, the eastern boundary is close to, but not quite exact with the SCCGIS landuse=* upload, especially around Mt. Madonna Park, the northern boundary was checked against stream data uploaded by user:DanHomerick (noted above) and user:mk408's stream data upload from Santa Clara Valley Water District along the "spine" of differing flow directions at ridgetops of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the northwest and western boundaries were checked against both CaSIL state park and SCCGIS landuse=* uploads, still not quite with perfect alignment.

Cycle Routes

Santa Cruz County has an excellent network of established and developing bicycle infrastructure. The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) publishes a (paper) County Bike Map displaying these bicycle lanes, paths and alternate routes, the latest version in September, 2016. Also, SCCGIS publishes (click the Data Tab, then the Transportation row's "green square" SHP button) a transportation layer that includes the County's electronically published bicycle infrastructure. JOSM can be persuaded (with a plugin) to open the .shp resulting from unzipping this file.

In December 2010, a suggestion was proposed to SCCRTC to superimpose upon this government-published infrastructure a local cycleway network (network=lcn) numbering protocol, colloquially known as "CycleNet" (or "SZCycleNet" in a statewide context). To be clear, the routes and their numbering have a one-to-one equivalence with the legally-sanctioned physical bicycle infrastructure published in the County Bike Map, ideally, the bicycle infrastructure resulting from downloading SCCGIS' "green square" data noted above. CycleNet is simply a set of logical routes proposed as a local network numbering protocol superimposed on this declared physical infrastructure. While still in its introductory stages as it is brought before jurisdictions for discussion and approval, two initial routes (Walnut-Soquel, which might become lcn or rcn 8, and Freedom Blvd., which might become lcn or rcn 80) have been introduced to OSM as proposed network=rcn bicycle route relations. Additionally, other network=lcn route relations (with state=proposed) have also been introduced, with network=lcn and route=mtb (the latter only for mountain bike routes suffixed with "M" in their ref= tag). Thusly, OSM is a venue for geographic communication/visualization of lcn/rcn/mtb bicycle route discussions and public introductions into a numbered local network. A set of tags to render mountain bike routes as both orange lines (in Cycle Map layer) shown from route=mtb, as well as giving them dark blue numbers in the (shared with network=lcn) local address space have been determined, thanks to research via renderers OpenCycleMap, and As jurisdictions reach consensus on these proposed routes, state=proposed shall be removed to denote the newly legally-sanctioned numbering. Signage on these routes may follow their state going from proposed to approved, so cyclists should not expect physical signs on these routes for some time. An exception is Pacific Coast Bike Route, posited to be network=rcn and ref=95, which is "lightly signed" by the State of California. This (public) route should not be confused with the (private) route of the same name by Adventure Cycling Association; in OSM, the intent is to document and display the public route, not the private route.

Local Conventions

In 2009, we began a convention with parks, starting with user:Apo42's tagging of State Park data that included park:type=state_park. In Santa Cruz County we extend this to include park:type=county_park and park:type=city_park for parks with management/jurisdiction at those admin_levels (indeed, this feature may be combined with admin_level= at some point) and park:type=private_park to private parks areas (for example, a small decathlon-event park with access=private), private campgrounds and for-fee short-term trailer parks. The point is not to make these render (yet) but such tags can be useful in a search/find, over a large area, for example. A proposal to combine these tags with boundary= so that these render with different color dashing is being developed. Today, boundary=national_park renders in mapnik with a green-dashed boundary. In the future, rendering may be extended to display parks tagged with state_park, county_park, city_park and private_park using different colors of dashing.

However, this convention appears to be in the process of being phased out in preference of the tagging scheme boundary=protected_area, which utilizes the protection_title= and protect_class= keys.

Work to be done in the County

Many TIGER-sourced roads in rural, unincorporated Santa Cruz County are known to be wrong by tens or even hundreds of meters. Some are better expressed as highway=unclassified or are actually highway=track (or highway=service + service=driveway) instead of TIGER's default of highway=residential. Additional tags like barrier=gate and access=private are also missing in many locations. While most of these roads are public, but some are access=private (it is not always clear which), it would be very helpful for somebody with local knowledge of these rural roads to gather GPS wanderings and upload these as better-aligned, better-classified, better tagged as to access=* (and better-named?) roads already extant in OSM. This is more true in heavily-wooded, hilly/mountainous areas of central and northern County, and less true in flat, primarily agricultural areas of southern County. This displays how complete we are at reviewing data from the TIGER import. Compare Santa Cruz County to San Luis Obispo County (which appears to be 100% complete)!

Certain "holes" in county (zoning or) landuse=* uploads remain from polygons tagged "special_use" or "public_facility" : SCCGIS effectively punted on defining what specific landuse=* these are, so "special_use" largely conveys "unspecified." As described above, mostly- or all-wooded parcels are also tagged natural=wood (perhaps with meadows and buildings superimposed). Also, some otherwise "blank" public_facility polygons (no rendered OSM landuse=*) need a site visit to determine what they actually are (e.g., landuse=industrial as water_tower or wastewater_treatment facility). Two notable "public_facility" polygons are significant portions of state highway corridors (State Routes 1 and 17).

As it attached from what SCCGIS declared a "Park" in its 2009 "Zoning.pdf" file, revealing its use as both vague and flexible, what is now tagged leisure=park captures many private, sometimes spiritual/religious conference grounds and broadly speaking, quite natural/unimproved contemplative and meditative spaces. When private (often as religious communities) these are much like parks in a broad sense, as they are sometimes permissively open to respectful public uses such as hiking. One of the more interesting emergences of the SCCGIS landuse=* import was to better categorize these "Park" entities: it may be that tags of both leisure=park and amenity=place_of_worship turn out to accurately capture landuse semantics at these areas. (For example, Quaker Center west of Ben Lomond, Land of Medicine Buddha near Aptos, Jikoji at the northern tip of the county and Vajrapani Institute north of Boulder Creek). As sometimes difficult exploration of more remote areas continues, the number of parks with unknown names continues to decrease. A trend began in Fall 2014 which is believed more correct OSM tagging: a tag of name=Unknown Park applied from the SCCGIS upload has been converted to a new tag name:absent=yes. As of February, 2016, there remain scores of parks tagged name:absent=yes which still need accurate naming, either from a site visit (if signs exist) or further querying of County records.

A California Public Records Act request of building footprint data at UCSC is partially complete, thanks to release of the data by UCSC's Privacy and Information Practices Director. Work to migrate these from .dwg to .osm is underway, and while there is partial progress and partial failure, UCSC is able and willing to produce a .shp shapefile as an intermediate, another migration path to get these into OSM. In progress: at least two of us (software-heavy engineering professionals) have tried .dwf via Teigha to shapefile (various methods and tweaks, the GRASS 6.3 ", v.out.ogr" method documented in our wiki, others...) to no avail. If you have knowledge how to achieve this (.dwg -> .shp or .dwg -> .osm, whether via .dxf or not) data workflow, please OSM missive stevea.

The two major components of bus and rail which display in the Transport Layer merit specific mention, due to their incomplete state in OSM:

• Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (SCMTD) provides substantial bus service to many parts of the county. Currently, skeletal highway=bus_stop data are entered into OSM, initially around the University of California campus, extending citywide in 2013 and early 2014. Also entered is inter-county bus route "Highway 17 Express," linking to San José's Diridon Station for CalTrain and Amtrak rail connections (plus BART and High Speed Rail in the future). A semi-automated system (SCMTD's quarterly-released GTFS protocol data) to transform routes and stops into route relation data in OSM is under development. Otherwise the tedious work of entering/updating these routes quarterly must be manually completed. Manual entry began with most University-Downtown routes in February 2014. Stops and additional "alternate segments" of these routes may not yet be complete. As of late 2014, the SCMTD bus route network being entered into OSM is a work in progress and perhaps 55% - 60% complete. SCMTD routes remaining to be entered into OSM include 72, 74, 75, 77, 79, 66N, 54, 55, 56, 8, 12, 30, 33, 34, 41 and 42. Additional volunteers and/or GTFS -> OSM conversion technical assistance is appreciated! An attempt to use GO-Sync-0.9.3.jar and SCMTD's GTFS feed was run under Windows 8 Pro (Mac OS X installation is broken, a known bug not yet fixed), and while this attempt appeared to parse the data successfully and returned Response Code 200s for both bus stops and route relations, a report was never generated and no changeset was uploaded. Huh? What is broken here?

• Since late 2012, Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway (SCMBR) is in public ownership, so long-term planning for funding has begun to potentially offer future passenger rail service on this branch line. Sites, stations, halts and platforms which have displayed in OSM as proposed SCMBR rail stops came from studies as early as 1998, and are obsolete. As new and potentially different rail infrastructure and services emerge, proposed and actual rail features must be updated and kept current. In early 2014, SCCRTC was awarded a Caltrans Transit Planning grant to undertake an analysis of commuter and intercity passenger rail service, studying recommendations for phased, efficient service on SCMBR. Objectives include comparisons of options that are cost-effective and provide additional transportation options. In 2014-Q4, early results became available. From this, updating of railway=stations, railway=tram_stops and railway=halts was completed in early 2015, though as this is an active public process, some continuing minor lag-and-jag in the map should not surprise. As of 2016-Q1, County rail infrastructure has largely stabilized, even as additional improvements (sidings, signal infrastructure, speed limit data...) are updated to OSM. OpenRailwayMap displays rail infrastructure and OpenPublicTransportMap displays passenger rail routes/trains.

City of Santa Cruz

The COSCZoning.kmz file from was used to "officialize" commercial districts, industrial zones and residential neighborhoods (among other areas, like parks and schools) of the City of Santa Cruz. While exactly correct for parks, schools, commercial and industrial zones, this file contains an overabundance of data for residential areas, such as distinctions between low- and medium-density zoning. Hence, these residential polygons were coalesced where necessary to build the named (and numbered, put into ref=*) neighborhood areas shown at the City web site. These display at closer zoom levels (out to z=14). The place=suburb nodes (Downtown, Westside, Eastside, Seabright and UCSC) and place=locality nodes (Midtown, Terrace Hill, Terrace Point, East Morrissey and Science Hill) emerged with local consensus, they appear to have stabilized. The place=suburb nodes display at medium zoom levels (out to z=12).

Work continues (2016 onwards) in the City of Santa Cruz to add and complete the following:

• more complete amenity=parking areas (with access=destination if true) and highway=service, service=parking_aisle roads in commercial and industrial zones, where appropriate,

• tags for disabled access routing: many more areas which are well-served for wheelchairs or low-vision persons (disabled parking spaces, highway=elevator, automatic_door=yes, ramp:wheelchair=yes, kerb=lowered, tactile_paving=yes, traffic_signals:sound=yes...) are not marked as such nor are mapped with these access nodes or routes in mind where they certainly exist,

• more highway=bus_stop nodes and route=bus relations of the excellent local transit system, (may become semi-automated with a GTFS protocol data feed from SCMTD),

• better and more consistent address numbering at landmark buildings and block level starting Downtown (a major tourism attraction, popular with locals too!),

• completion of UCSC campus (specifically, remaining highway=footways and highway=steps remain incomplete -- see The Cake). Also remaining incomplete are amenity=bicycle_parking and additional "micro-mapping" such as amenity=drinking_water (drinking fountains), shop=laundry and amenity=vending_machine nodes,

amenity=place_of_worship (largely done, some details remain, such as sport courts visible in aerial views, adjunct buildings and amenity=parking),

highway=footway and footway=sidewalk (and highway=crossings, tactile_paving=yes, kerb=lowered, highway=elevators...) in areas beyond Downtown, especially to link business districts for pedestrian and disabled access,

• details of the back nine holes, disc golf courses and Grove theatre amenities at DeLaveaga,

• remaining amenity=post_boxes, amenity=fountains, amenity=charging_stations, amenity=clocks, amenity=telephones, amenity=benches, tourism=viewpoints, amenity=waste_baskets, barrier=fences, barrier=gates, natural=cliffs, amenity=drinking_water (drinking fountains), highway=crossings (crosswalks), leisure=pitches (sport fields and courts), leisure=playgrounds, power=poles, power=lines, power=substations, cycleway=shared_lanes (roads with sharrows and signs proclaiming "Bikes May Use Full Lane" and "Share The Road") and traffic_calming=bumps around the City.

City of Capitola

Zoning/landuse areas are good to very good, but minor improvements can still be made. A zoning map is available. Some commercial zone wheelchair access has already begun to be added.

City of Scotts Valley

user:DanHomerick is a frequent contributor. An official zoning map is available, but it does not always agree with "on the ground" reality. OSM prefers reality over zoning. As noted above, while zoning is a good first step, reality is best.

City of Watsonville

Many contributions have been made, but OSM needs more volunteers to improve the map in Watsonville! An important next set of additions are bus stops to complement SCMTD route expansion into Watsonville: OSM needs highway=bus_stop nodes added east of Seacliff, south of Aptos, along Airport and Freedom Boulevards.

See Also

Contributors in the county

  • user:stevea has done a thorough job of mapping Santa Cruz, and continues to refine/edit throughout the county, notably 2010 CaSIL park and county boundary uploads, 2009 and 2013 SCCGIS landuse upload/updates.
  • user:srmixter has done numerous landuse zones both manually and with the shp2osm script.
  • user:Apo42 has added official state parks and open spaces to the county, in addition to CaSIL-based county boundaries.
  • user:DanHomerick has added and refined areas in the central and northern portion of the county.
  • user:adelman has edited in the central and southern portion of the county, especially improving mountain bike trails.
  • user:njaard contributes to especially the northern portion of the county, including new business node and commercial district entries.
  • user:Michael_SFBA makes many park and nature path trail contributions.
  • user:manduchi and his students of Computer Engineering 80A at UCSC make many important mobility, handicapped access and public transport contributions (crossing types and locations, tactile_paving, bus_stops)....
  • user:peterm95018 makes work using OSM data.
  • user:hrutten contributed mightily to the effort to display ADA-compliant wheelchair routes at the UCSC campus.
  • user:Bike Mapper makes many contributions regarding mountain bike paths in the South Bay (SF Bay Area) and Santa Cruz Mountains areas.
  • user:StellanL is less active locally now, but has made many local contributions in the past, and is active in the Greater SF Bay Area.
  • user:balrog-kun, user:yellowbkpk, and especially user:DaveHansen have all made important contributions in the "early days."