Thursday, March 31, 2016

County short-term rental regulations will be delayed a little longer

After three years, short-term rental operators in the county's unincorporated areas have reached the end of their patience. But they will likely have to wait several more months for new county regulations for their industry.
On Wednesday, several of them showed up at a county Planning Commission workshop, which was set to provide a status report on the development of rules designed to govern rentals for less than 30 days, as well as special events, and called for county officials to expedite the long-delayed regulations.
They also called for a moratorium on county enforcement, including prosecution of alleged violations of the county's de facto ban on short-term rentals while the regulations are being drafted. County code does not allow short-term rentals in the coastal zone.
But county staff, including retiring Planning Director Mike Novo and Resource Management Agency special programs manager Melanie Beretti, told the commission development of new short-term rental regulations, and those aimed at governing special events, have had to take a back seat to the Carmel River and Lagoon project and the developing medical marijuana regulations, which have taken up staff time. They said staff would likely begin focusing on the short-term rental rules this summer, and an ordinance could be adopted by spring next year. Special events rules would follow, they said.
Speakers at Wednesday's hearing said they were not pleased with the response on the issue from Supervisor Dave Potter, whose office convened an 18-member working group last year aimed at developing regulations, but who they said has not acted quickly enough.
Potter is running for re-election against former United Way executive director Mary Adams in the District 5 race. The district features the vast majority of short-term rentals in the unincorporated county.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Osio Cinemas' new owner signs sublease

A sublease agreement between the Osio Cinemas' new owner, Le Prince Cinemas, and the building’s property manager, MCM Diversified was signed last week.

Now, all that's left before area movie goers can have their indie film desires quenched is for the Monterey City Council to actually approve the lease at their April 19 meeting. The Osio Building is owned by the City.

City officials say they don't foresee any problems with its approval because the use of the building is consistent with what is there.

As long as everything is fine and approved, the city will prepare a consent to sublease form and then will sign it along with the sublease tenant and ownership of building,” explained Monterey’s Housing/Property Manager Rick Marvin earlier this month. Marvin went so far as to predict a May 1 opening.

It was back in July that the independent theater closed abruptly with its previous owner filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with debts of more than $382,000. The case was resolved in late November.

But soon after its closure, three theater employees – Shanneen Kirkpatrick, Brandi Lamb and Jirko Senkel (now incorporated as Le Prince Cinemas)– started an online fundraiser on Kickstarter to reopen the theater. Their campaign raised $76,000. But still, the theater sat vacant, which left many to wonder what was going on behind the scenes.

Now, plans for the theater's renovations seem on track. Those plans include having new carpet installed, fixing the outdoor marquee and cleaning and repairing the seats. The acquisition of a beer and wine license is also on tap.

Friday, March 25, 2016

One Starfish program in Monterey now official

It's official. The ink is now dry on the agreement between the city of Monterey and the One Starfish safe parking program.

Monterey's program joins Pacific Grove's, Seaside's and three Carmel Valley locations that already provide homeless women a safe place to park and sleep overnight. It's only fitting that Monterey join in since the city helped fund the program back in 2014.

The city even went so far as to use one of their own city parking lots since the original location of the
United Methodist Church at 1 Soledad Drive was ultimately struck down. Typically, the sites are located in church parking lots. Two churches in Monterey – Shoreline and St. John's Chapel – have expressed interest in providing future safe parking for homeless women.

Now, the city will look toward further solutions for the problem of homelessness, but not without gratitude from those who work regularly on behalf of the homeless population.

As Pastor Jim Nelson said in a recent City Council meeting, “I know that the One Starfish Program wouldn’t even exist if it hadn’t been for the city of Monterey,” he said. “All you officials doing all this leg work, we appreciate what you’re doing for us.”

Congressional candidates forum set for April 2

Marina in Motion is sponsoring a Candidates’ Forum for candidates for the 20th US Congressional District.

The forum will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, at the Marina City Council Chambers, 411 Hillcrest, Marina.

Participants will be able to submit questions for discussion by the candidates, giving everyone a chance to identify important issues in the coming election.

 For additional information, please telephone Dan Amadeo, president of Marina in Motion at 831-384-5486.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tami Huntsman, Gonzalo Curiel make court appearance on murder, torture, child abuse charges

Public defender Jared Jefferson looks on as Tami Huntsman, 39, covers her face as she and Gonzalo Curiel, 17, top, are led away after their arraignment at the Monterey County Courthouse in Salinas, Calif. on January 8, 2016. The pair are being charged with murder and child abuse after two children were found in a storage locker in Redding. (David Royal - Monterey Herald)

Salinas >> Tami Huntsman and Gonzalo Curiel appeared in Monterey County Superior Court Wednesday for proceedings in the murder, torture and child abuse case against them.

Curiel's attorney requested for the search warrants in the case to be sealed for an extended period of time. Steve Somers, Monterey County deputy district attorney, said the judge hasn't made a ruling yet.

Hunstman's attorney filed a writ in the 6th District and documents in the case were transferred to the California 6th District Court of Appeal.

Huntsman, 39, and Curiel, 18, face multiple charges of murder, torture, child abuse and conspiracy in connection with the deaths of 6-year-old Shaun Tara and 3-year-old Delylah Tara, whose bodies were found in a Redding storage unit in December, and the severe abuse and torture of their 9-year-old sister. All three of the children were in Huntsman’s custody.

The two sides will be back in court at 1:30 p.m. May 11 for a calendar call and the preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 23.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Family-oriented atmosphere" working at In-N-Out, says Seaside manager

Photo by James Herrera - Monterey Herald
Ashley Guzman, manager of the In-N-Out Burger in Seaside stands with Yessica Martinez, one of the associates brought in for training and support of new hires for the new restaurant. Guzman was a babysitter for Martinez years ago before going to work for Martinez's father who managed an In-N-Out in Pittsburg.

Seaside >> In-N-Out Burger store number 312 is managed by Ashley Guzman, 31, who has been with the company for about 14 years. She said she started at the ground level and worked her way up through the ranks, learning about management and support through the company's programs.

Guzman said she got her first job with In-N-Out when she was a babysitter for the Pittsburg store manager in northern California. She said he encouraged her to apply with his company and when she started work in 2003, her starting wage was $8.25 an hour.

“That was more than the $6.75 I was making at my other job at the time,” Guzman said. “I started work with the company and fell in love with it.”

And that is not all Guzman fell in love with as she met her future husband when they both worked for In-N-Out. She said her husband’s family is from Soledad, but besides visiting The Monterey Bay Aquarium as a kid, she really did not know Seaside.

The Guzman’s have been married eight years, have two children and plan to move to the area soon. She said they first looked in Gilroy for a home but have since started looking on the Peninsula and hope to find something close to work.

"I love this area," she said.

The company helps find housing through research, assists in making the move and gives transplants time to get settled at home and in their new role, said Guzman.

“Associates, as well as myself, are very well taken care of,” said Guzman. “It’s a family-oriented atmosphere in every aspect.”

And, as if on cue, the girl Guzman once babysat all those years ago, came up to say hello and wish her well on opening day – an employee of In-N-Out herself.

Yessica Martinez, 21, proudly stood alongside her mentor for a quick photograph, the next generation of the empire ready to keep the In-N-Out family going.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Monterey city employees set for labor negotiations; Next Gen Jazz Fest slated for April 8-10

During Wednesday’s Monterey city council meeting, some 20 city employees stood in solidarity during the public comment period as Leslie Pressman, acting as a representative for the General employees, requested appropriate raises. The City is set to negotiate labor agreements because current contracts expire on June 30.
“It’s a rare day when visitors don’t comment what a wonderful city Monterey is,” said Pressman. “As you discuss our contract requirements, please do everything you can to help the hard-working employees of GEM (General Employees of Monterey).
On a lighter note, Monterey Jazz Festival’s Colleen Bailey announced the upcoming event Next Generation Jazz Festival, which will take place from April 8-10. The event will bring 1,400 young people from across the country to compete for the chance to play at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September. She also announced that the jazz festival will host Quincy Jones as its 2016 jazz legend. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

County's outstanding women for 2016 to be feted

Monterey County's Commission on the Status of Women has named its Outstanding Women for 2016, and has set a Sunday reception and awards ceremony to honor them.
The ceremony, including a keynote address from Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System administrator Adrienne Laurent, will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies' Irvine Auditorium, 499 Pierce Street in Monterey.
Among the women to be honored for their dedication to improving the quality of life for others in their community:
* Marina city councilwoman Nancy Amadeo, who is a founding member of the Marina in Motion and the Marina Youth Arts organizations, and worked on local veterans issues including the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery and creation of a Veterans Memorial Trail in Marina.
* Monterey County prosecutor Elaine McCleaf, an original member of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council who wrote the county law enforcement domestic violence protocol and offers training on the dynamics of domestic violence, along with volunteering for the last 18 years as the attorney coach for the Pacific Grove High School mock trial team.
* Salinas businesswoman and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System trustee Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin, who created the IMPOWER organization providing scholarships to women and girls, and is credited with developing a program to put salad bars in schools, along with serving on a number of area boards.
* Christian Women in Action advisor Ethel Davis, who is known for more than three decades of "mentorship, ministry and spirited service to the community," including coordinating outreach efforts for the homeless and less fortunate.
* North Monterey County community leader and volunteer Diane Franciscovich, who has worked as the Women's Crisis Center executive director and board member helping battered women and children, developed the North County Chamber newsletter, and served as president and board member of the Castroville Rotary Club.
* Monterey County Business Council board president and Monterey Peninsula Airport District director Mary Ann Leffel, who serves in a variety of capacities for a number of local business, community and government organizations ranging from the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the county's Overall Economic Development Commission to the Natividad Medical Center board and Interim, Inc.
* Monterey County Chief Probation Officer Marcia Parsons, who is the first woman to hold the post, and serves as chairwoman of the county Children's Council, which provides leadership and policy direction for the provision of youth services, and the county Community Corrections Partnership, a collaborative of local agencies working to rehabilitate and reintegrate adult offenders into society.
* Greenfield Union School District trustee and community volunteer Mayra Perez, who is known for establishing PTA chapters in her children's school district to advocate for children's rights, and has been an "outspoken voice" on women's issues including youth mothers, low-income families and at-risk youth.
* Retired educator Lucille Standifer, who organized a fundraising drive for a student diagnosed with cancer staying at Ronald McDonald House while undergoing treatment, along with volunteering for the Mission Ladies organization to ensure the sick and needy receive cards, and teaching Bible Study and her church.
* King City Union School District trustee Ana Vargas, who has organized the annual Dia del Trabajador Agricola and Adelante Con Orgullo Mujer Immigrante events, and leads an effort to improve health through organizing physical activity sessions and healthy eating workshops.

Friday, March 11, 2016

City of Monterey's Kim Cole steps in as interim Chief of Planning

The City of Monterey's Managing Principal Planner Kim Cole has stepped into a larger role for the city – that of interim chief of planning, engineering and environmental compliance.
The change for Cole comes with the departure of Chip Rerig. Rerig left the position last month for a city administrator position with the city of Carmel.
Cole, who reports to Dino Pick, Monterey's Deputy City Manager of Plans and Public Works, has also thrown her hat in the ring for the permanent position. The job recruitment for the position just closed.
“It's wonderful to work with a community that has such tremendous historic resources and to get to work on issues that include storm water protection, sustainability and good infill development,” said Cole, who said she looks forward to many more years working for the City.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Seaside approves twelve-month extension for Monterey Downs agreement

Seaside >> The City Council approved the third amendment to extend the life of the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Monterey Downs, LLC, at the Seaside council meeting on Thursday.

The ENA for the proposed Monterey Downs and Monterey Horse Park in the former Fort Ord keeps the document alive for another twelve-month period.

The extension is necessary because the CEQA (environmental review), the Disposition and Development Agreement and other agreements and entitlements that may be required as part of the project's approval, have yet to be completed.

The long-awaited Final Environmental Impact Report has yet to be delivered and no date for its presentation has been announced.

The City Council also received the applicant's presentation of the Monterey Downs Fiscal and Economic Impact Analysis Final Draft Report dated August 2015 and the peer review and supplemental sensitivity analysis done for the city. The council accepted the reports with no further direction to city staff.

In-N-Out Burger

Keep dreaming of that "double-double" because the opening of the Seaside In-N-Out Burger restaurant continues to be a moving target.

According to a company spokesman in Irvine, no opening date has yet been set and they are still taking applications for job openings at the 1350 Del Monte Blvd. site, so it is probably a few months out.

A Seaside city official said that no occupancy permit has been issued and even if it were, the burger chain could sit on it until they are ready to open, so it is up to In-N-Out.

When complete, the project will be a 3,750-square-foot restaurant with indoor and outdoor patio dining totaling 159 seats and a drive-thru window.

Monterey officials celebrate Frank E. Sollecitio ballpark with March ribbon cutting

After the Monterey City Council voted unanimously last November to approve the Frank E. Sollecito Jr. Ballpark artificial turf field despite concerns over possible health problems from the rubber crumbs and goose droppings, officials from the city will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony honoring the new outfield at 1 p.m. on Satuday, March 12th.
Monterey County's health officer Dr. Edward Moreno had put the council at ease before Christmas when he told them that based on the available studies, there's no evidence of public health impacts from the use of tire crumbs in artificial turf. 
“This ballpark is a centerpiece of Monterey's baseball heritage,” said Assistant City Manager Hans Uslar. “It's important for our baseball leagues and especially Monterey High School because they play their games there. We've had a lot of good ballplayers come from there.”

Construction on the field, which besides being used by the high school baseball team, is also used by the city recreation program, was done by NorCal Contractor for $713,700. Funds came from the city's Neighborhood Improvement Program, the Capital Improvement Program and contributions from the community.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Salinas starts recruiting police officers

The Salinas Police Department will be conducting an informative orientation for persons who are interested in becoming Salinas Police Officers. This orientation will allow potential candidates an opportunity to learn about the department, recruitment, and the hiring process.

The orientation will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at the City Hall Rotunda, 200 Lincoln Ave, Salinas.

The Police Recruit position is now open and will close April 6. People interested are encouraged to apply through CalOpps here. Questions can be directed to Sgt. Kim Robinson at (831) 758-7120 or Salinas Human Resources at (831) 758-7254.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Marina interchange project plan back from Cal Trans' final review

The plan for the Highway1/Imjin Parkway interchange came back from Cal Trans' final review with comments and the City of Marina is in the process of negotiating its response.

The on- and off-ramps that usher traffic from Highway 1 to Imjin Parkway in Marina will be getting design improvements in the next few months though no start date has yet been set, a city engineer said work on the project may commence sometime this summer.

Since Caltrans owns the freeway right of way, all proposed Imjin Parkway interchange modifications with Highway 1 require its approval.

The existing intersection was constructed in the mid-60s and has not been modified since with the exception of the northbound ramp which was part of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority “Imjin Parkway Reconstruction Project.”

The project includes two traffic signals at the northbound and southbound ramp intersections with Imjin Parkway. It also includes the removal of existing northbound and eastbound free-right turn lanes, the widening of the Imjin Parkway northbound off-ramp terminal and all associated signing and striping at the Highway 1/Imjin Parkway interchange.

The city is also in talks with PG&E to coordinate any safety improvement projects or work to be done on a gas line that runs through that area at the same time the ramp work is to be done.

Seaside considers extending Monterey Downs agreement another year

The Seaside City Council will consider a third amendment to the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Monterey Downs, LLC for the proposed Monterey Downs and Monterey Horse Park in the former Fort Ord.

The amendment is an extension of the agreement for twelve months so the city can complete its compliance with the California Environmental Act (CEQA), to obtain the project entitlements and to complete negotiations of the Disposition and Development Agreement.

“The extension is necessary for the city and the applicant to both continue to meet the terms of the ENA and requirements for the parties to move forward,” said Teri Wissler Adam, Seaside contract project manager.

The Final Environmental Impact Report – a key component to completing the project – has not yet been submitted and there is no scheduled date for its publication.

“There are other thing that need to occur, but it is the EIR that is at the crux of it,” said Adam.

The council will also receive the Monterey Downs Fiscal and Economic Impact Analysis Final Draft Report dated Aug. 2015 at the Thurs. March 3 meeting. That report was prepared by Willdan Associates for Monterey Downs, LLC and the peer review and supplemental sensitivity analysis conducted by Economic & Planning Systems on behalf of the City of Seaside.

“The idea is to provide the council with economic and fiscal information on the project,” said Adam. “There are no decisions being made on the project.”