Unlike Tamarindo, which is a beach resort that caters to foreign visitors and residents, Santa Cruz is a town of Costa Ricans. It is the second most important city of the Guanacaste province, with 15,000 residents.
Tamarindo is not incorporated as its own town, and Santa Cruz is actually where the town government is located that governs Tamarindo. There are buses that bring people from Santa Cruz to Tamarindo to work in jobs in the the hotels and restaurants.
There are disadvantages to having a town government that is 20 minutes inland. Some people think that Tamrindo contributes much more in taxes to Santa Cruz than the amount that is spent in Tamarindo. It should not be surprising that the politicians would pay more attention to the Costa Rican people who elect them, than to foreign residents in Tamarindo who do not vote.
There have been improvements to Tamarindo from the public pressure on the government in Santa Cruz. Lifeguards for the beach and the addition of a police station are examples. The road to Tamarindo was repaved about two years ago, and the documents have recently been signed to pave the last little stretch of unpaved road from from Tamarindo to Langosta, and to pave the loop road that runs all around Langosta.