Chamber Cosponsors Monterey’s Informative State of the City Event
On Thursday, September 26, a group of business associations and businesses - including the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce - hosted a free “State of the City” event at the Portola Hotel & Spa for the people of the City of Monterey.
Featured speakers were Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson and City Manager Hans Uslar. Event sponsors provided free food and drinks and ample time for networking before and after the speeches.
Mayor Roberson emphasized the continuing efforts of city leadership to provide a high quality of life for residents. City Manager Uslar warned attendees that the city is projecting increasing budget deficits and must prepare for more aggressive actions to balance the budget in future years.
Both city leaders noted many positive things about the City of Monterey and recognized the importance of businesses in building and sustaining a thriving, prosperous city.
Monterey City Council Considers Opportunities for New Housing on Underused City Properties That’s Affordable for Employers and Employees
On August 20, the Monterey City Council discussed seeking proposals for building housing on city-owned properties that’s affordable. Discussion of potential sites for housing will continue at subsequent meetings. Your Chamber supported the concept and offered specific recommendations for the city to consider.
Water Agency Board Recognizes Water Restrictions as an Impediment for Building New Housing That’s Affordable for Employers and Employees
On August 19, the elected board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District received a presentation about the challenges of allocating water to proposed new housing that’s affordable. Board chairwoman Molly Evans requested this report. The board examined a list of “What the District Has Been Doing” and “What the District Can Consider Until the Cease and Desist Order Is Lifted.” Your Chamber encouraged the board to pursue policies that overcome this obstacle.
Monterey Peninsula School District Considers Options to Expand Availability of Housing That Employees Can Afford
In the past few months, the elected board of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District has discussed various options for providing housing that’s affordable to employees. Turnover of teachers and other employees at the school district is a major challenge, and not surprisingly the cost of housing is often cited as a reason for leaving the district. The district is conducting a survey of employees about housing challenges, proceeding with a partnership with non-profit organizations for possible housing construction, and considering a bond measure to borrow money for housing construction. Your Chamber is monitoring these preliminary efforts of the school district.
Chamber Takes Leadership Role in Making Tourism a Positive Economic Activity for All Residents
Tourism and hospitality is recognized as one of the four economic drivers of Monterey County and the Monterey Peninsula (agriculture, military bases, and education are the other three). But the current boom in tourism creates unpleasant inconveniences for some residents, particularly those who live and work in Big Sur. Your Chamber’s Economic Vitality Committee, with guidance from your Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, is working with the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau to improve cooperation and collaboration among interested parties and advance sustainable tourism (as an alternative to a economically destructive tourism moratorium). Your Chamber sent a letter dated July 23 to Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams offering assistance in this effort. It also submitted comments to LandWatch Monterey County on August 21 regarding its draft report “Is Overtourism a Problem?” Just like you, your Chamber wants tourism to be a community asset, not a community problem!
Water District Sets Up Framework for Potential Government Takeover of Monterey Peninsula Water Supply
On August 19, the elected board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District received a report entitled “A Plan to Adopt and Implement a Policy to Secure and Maintain Public Ownership of All Water Production, Storage and Delivery System Assets and Infrastructure Providing Services Within the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Territory.” This report was required after Monterey Peninsula voters approved Measure J in November 2018. Your Chamber remains concerned about how a government takeover of the regional water supply could affect water rates for customers, land use policies for businesses, and the continued operation of local military bases.
Marine Desalination for Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Is Getting Close to Reality
Many residents of the Monterey Peninsula have a vague awareness of how government has been used over the past 30 years as a tool to restrict water supply. For may years, your Chamber has supported a “three-legged stool” that would substitute recycled water (from Pure Water Monterey), aquifer storage, and marine desalination for the doomed practice of extracting water from the Carmel River. After seven years in a contentious approval process, a proposed marine desalination plant at the soon-to-be-closed CEMEX sand mining facility in Marina has obtained most of the government permits necessary for construction. Your Chamber has supported these permits.
Public Power Agency Expands Territory
Most residents and businesses in the Monterey Bay area weren’t aware of it, but in 2017 your electricity supplier by default changed from the investor-owned utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to a government agency called Monterey Bay Community Power. To date, this agency has succeeded in providing clean, reliable power at reasonable and competitive rates for customers, including businesses. Now many of the local governments in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties are joining the agency, and the City of Del Rey Oaks (previously a holdout) has also joined. Your Chamber is monitoring the policies and operations of this agency.
Decades of Fort Ord Blight May Soon Come to an End
As the California legislature considers a bill for a gradual phase out of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) as a regional government, the FORA board (made up of local elected officials) is authorizing the sale of bonds so it can borrow money to demolish all of the remaining deteriorated and abandoned buildings that mar the landscape. FORA reports that it has reused 60% of the base buildings and spent $50 million to date to demolish other buildings. It estimates it will need to spend another $50-60 million to demolish the remaining blight. Your Chamber has long been frustrated as organizations used politics and litigation to hinder transformation of this military base, which closed in 1994. Your Chamber wants to see Fort Ord reach its full potential as a regional asset based on a balanced approach of education, environment, and economic development.
Sidewalk Vendors Coming to City of Monterey
A new California law requires local governments to allow sidewalk vendors to operate unless there are specific authorized conditions that justify restrictions. On September 3, the Monterey City Council will hold a public hearing on establishing regulations for street vendors. While this issue has been highly controversial in some cities (especially in Carmel), your Chamber does not expect much controversy about how the City of Monterey implements its own policies within the limitations of state requirements. Your Chamber will continue to monitor the city’s proposed regulations.