Santa Cruz County

Agenda Item
Approved with additional direction
Jun 26, 2018 9:00 AM

Approve the Santa Cruz County Strategic Plan for 2018-2024, and direct the County Administrative Office to return on or before September 25, 2018, with an update on plan promotion and operationalization, as recommended by the County Administrative Officer


Department:County Administrative OfficeSponsors:County Administrative Officer Carlos J. Palacios
Category:CAO - Board LetterProjects:Master Calendar
Functions:General Government

Board Letter

Recommended Action(s):

1.     Approve the Santa Cruz County Strategic Plan for 2018-2024; and

2.     Direct the County Administrative Office to return on or before September 25, 2018, with an update on plan promotion and operationalization.


Executive Summary

The County Administrative Officer initiated a countywide strategic planning effort in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-18. Throughout this process, called “Vision Santa Cruz County,” County staff have engaged with internal and external stakeholders through the use of surveys, employee mixers, community forums, focus groups, and Board updates. The information gathered was used to inform and develop the strategic plan elements, and the final six-year strategic plan has been attached for the Board’s approval.



The purpose of strategic planning is to establish a long-term vision for the County and set a course of action through (1) overarching focus areas and (2) specific goals and objectives. This requires assessing the current landscape and trends, engaging internal and external stakeholders, and drafting and adopting a multi-year strategic plan and a shorter-term operational plan, which will inform County budget development.


Staff prepared for this process by comparing existing models and formats in other counties and cities, reviewing department and subject-area plans, and receiving input on strategic plan development. This work led to the identification of five key strategic plan elements:


·              Vision - reflects the collective understanding of the ideal situation


·              Mission - identifies the County’s role in pursuing the community’s vision


·              Values - provide the foundation on which the strategic plan is constructed


·              Focus areas - represent strategic initiatives, which organize the goals of an organization into a limited number of categories or themes


·              Goals - provide generalized statements of what the community wants to achieve consistent with its vision


The Strategic Plan Steering Committee (SPSC) met weekly for several months to finalize the strategic planning process that has led to the development of these elements. This process included internal and external engagement of the County’s numerous stakeholders through a variety of in-person, electronic and other methods. Engagement efforts began with employees in September and the community in November, which resulted in feedback from thousands of county residents and employees.


The SPSC took the data generated and distilled it into the draft vision, mission, values and focus areas presented to the Board on February 27, 2018. Community meetings, employee mixers, and surveys were then conducted to gather input from the community and employees to draft a set of goals in each focus area. The goals drew from numerous local community-based strategic plans and reflected the collective wishes and interests of thousands of county residents and employees who participated in the process.


To allow everyone an opportunity to consider and prioritize the draft goals, staff released an online survey in April that was kept open through May 4, 2018, and garnered over 800 responses. Staff sought to boost survey participation through various outreach methods, as described in the update provided to the Board on May 8, 2018. Our strategic planning facilitator, Angela Antenore, also facilitated small group meetings with employees at the end of April to solicit their overall impressions of the draft goals.


The results of this internal and external engagement affirmed the direction of the draft goals and allowed staff to refine the elements and prepare the proposed strategic plan, which was presented to the Board on June 12, 2018. Lastly, based on the Board’s direction, staff prepared the final strategic plan that is attached.



Our vision, mission, values and focus areas are presented below.


Vision: Santa Cruz County is a healthy, safe and more affordable community that is culturally diverse, economically inclusive and environmentally vibrant.


Mission: An open and responsive government, the County of Santa Cruz delivers quality, data-driven services that strengthen our community and enhance opportunity.


Values: The County of Santa Cruz provides services and supports partnerships built on:












Focus Areas:


Health & Safety









County Operational Excellence


Each focus area contains four goals, for a total of 24, which are presented in the attached Santa Cruz County Strategic Plan for 2018-2024.


Upon the Board’s approval of the strategic plan, staff will begin plan promotion. This will include developing banners, cards, posters or other materials with the strategic plan elements that may be distributed to county departments, employees, partners and residents and displayed in visible locations. The “Vision Santa Cruz County” website will also be updated with the final version of the document. Lastly, staff will begin working with an Operational Plan Steering Committee and departments on implementation of the strategic plan. The County Administrative Office requests the Board’s approval to return on or before September 25, 2018 with an update on these efforts.

Meeting History

Jun 26, 2018 9:00 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

Additional direction: When the CAO returns on September 25th with a report, include - if feasible - adding a line to future agenda reports after the financial impact that shows which Strategic Plan goal the item is related to, if any

MOVER:John Leopold, First District Supervisor
SECONDER:Greg Caput, Fourth District Supervisor
AYES:John Leopold, Zach Friend, Ryan Coonerty, Greg Caput, Bruce McPherson