Historically, Santa Cruz has had difficulty securing all-age venues.
In 1982, as The Big Beat failed to make a profit, they changed their name to The Beat, and became a 16+ venue. Video games were installed and bands played. The idea failed after 4 months (in December 1982). Simultaneous to the end of The Beat was the beginning of all-ages shows at Old Country Pizza in Aptos.
The Santa Cruz Art Center put on a bunch of all-ages Punk shows in the early 80's (See Maximum Rock N Roll issue # 2 -Norcal Scene Report) Richie of the Child Prostitutes ran Club Culture and did dozens of all-ages shows with all kinds of Euro and US headliners like Raw Power, BGK, CCM, GBH, Terveet Kadet, Black Flag, Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth....and the list goes on but I forget. That was the heyday in the mid 80's. Cha-Cha's on the Eastside did a lot of shows too, I remenber D.O.A., C.O.C., the Knot from Boston, etc. Soquel Grange Hall had SSD, Tales of Terror, M.A.D. and more. Vet's Hall had MDC along with regular smaller All Ages shows. That's a lot of acronyms.
In 1995, effort was put into putting on 16+ shows at the Santa Cruz Hotel, which was the mainroom of the Red Room. It was the only regular venue at that time for the under-21 crowd. Oscar (the Red Room manager) was not making a profit on the events. He just wanted there to be regular all-age shows in town. In early 1996, the Santa Cruz Police Department rewrote the Red Room's entertainment license, banning 16+ shows on the premises. Oscar and his lawyer then had to negotiate with the city to continue having 16+ shows in the building.
The Santa Cruz Vets Hall basement (The Bunker) was an affordable place for punk and indie shows during the 1990s. However, the space has been reclaimed by the Vets. Now shows must be approved of by the Vets council, and shows must end by 10pm.
Other all-ages clubs: Mid-80's: Club Culture and Diane's Place (not technically, but kids did get in...)