Thursday, April 28, 2016

Highway 156 toll road project's state funding slated to be cut

In a second blow this year, the Highway 156 improvement project is facing an additional $9.1 million cut in state transportation funding.
On Wednesday, the Transportation Agency for Monterey County board was told that California Transportation Commission staff are proposing state funding for the project's right of way phase be deleted as part of $754 million in statewide cuts as a result of lower-than-expected gas tax revenue.
The Highway 156 project's design phase would also be delayed, as would several other projects including the proposed Highway 1 operations upgrade, Highway 68 and Corral de Tierra intersection, and Imjin Road improvement.
The latest state funding cutback pushes Monterey County's share to $16 million, following an earlier $7 million cut.
Under the earlier cut, the Highway 156 project had already lost $2 million, and a south county Highway 101 frontage roads project also lost $5 million.
TAMC executive director Debbie Hale told the board staff was furious about getting hit with a second round of state funding cutbacks, and would argue for restoration of the funding in future years.
Hale said the Highway 156 funding would need to be restored "even to make a toll project feasible."
The toll road proposal would allow a private operator to charge drivers a fee to travel on a new four-lane highway between Prunedale and Castroville to pay off the $268 million project cost, including upfront costs.
A traffic and revenue study is currently under way for the project before a private operator is chosen and is expected to be finished by this fall.
Hale said the funding uncertainty underscored the need for passage of a proposed 30-year, 3/8-cent, $600 million transportation sales tax measure on the November ballot, which she said would guarantee local projects a secure source of funding not dependent on outside agencies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monterey corrects fake red zones on Garden Road near airport

Photo by James Herrera - Monterey Herald
Monterey city crews used a light gray paint to correct illegally-placed red zones along Garden Road near Monterey Regional Airport on Tuesday.

Monterey >> Less than a day after a story appeared in The Herald about fake red zones being painted on Garden Road near Monterey Regional Airport, the city of Monterey quickly took action to rectify the situation on Tuesday.

About 250 feet of curb was painted red, without permission or permitting, sometime after the city had performed a slurry seal resurfacing project over the weekend of April 16-17.

An unknown person or persons painted the curbs in an effort to keep people from parking along that stretch of road which is frequently used by travelers as an alternative to paid, long-term parking at the airport. Others are able to park there for work or to patronize businesses nearby.

Using a light shade of gray, city crews painted over the fake red sections of curbing at a cost to the city of about $300.

Red zones mean no stopping, standing or parking. They are typically reserved for emergency vehicles and are often found in front of fire hydrants. The zones are usually long enough to accommodate a fire truck. Drivers illegally parked in a red zone can be ticketed even if they are sitting in the car.

Parking is allowed for up to 72 hours on any city street though overnight camping in a vehicle between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. is prohibited.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Salinas hosts community budget session

As it prepares for the 2016-17 budget year, administrators with the city of Salinas are inviting members of the public to weigh in on their priorities.

Administrators and officials use a priority-based budgeting process to match spending to strategic goals, and as part of that they want input from residents, businesses and organizations.

To that end, two community budget meetings have been organized. The first took place on April 7 at Los Padres Elementary School.

The second is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 at Sherwood Hall, 940 N. Main St.

Spanish interpretation and child care will be available.

Administrators are also conducting a print and online survey. Links to English and Spanish versions of the online survey can be found here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spearheading city projects runs in the Roberson family

Besides approving the long anticipated Holman Highway/Highway 1 Roundabout project, new long-term vending locations and the TAMC-proposed 3/8 percent special sales tax, the Monterey city council approved of some special guests that made an appearance at Tuesday's city council meeting.
The council received a presentation from Bay View Academy students and Student Oceanography Club adviser Jennifer Ortiz, about a utility box at the corner of Pacific and Madison Streets in front of the Monterey Public Library that the students painted. Ortiz, who also happens to be Mayor Roberson's daughter, along with the students, spear-headed the endeavor that is the club's year-long “make the world a better place” project. During the presentation where the young people explained the steps involved in transforming the once gray box into a piece of artwork of colorful sea creatures, they were commended. At one point Roberson personally thanked Ortiz and said “I do not kiss all presenters – this was my daughter!”

Landwatch's Amy White caps eight years at helm of local land-use watchdog

After eight years leading Landwatch Monterey County, Amy White has announced plans to leave the local land-use watchdog organization to pursue a career in teaching.
White, 35, announced recently her last day with the organization will be April 29, and she plans to take off six weeks to work on her Gonzales ranch and serve as a consultant on a King City affordable housing project before beginning a dual masters and teaching credential program at California State University, Monterey Bay under a prestigious U.S. Department of Education grant with a focus on Salinas Valley education.
White, who joined the organization as associate director in 2007, took over as interim executive director when Chris Fitz left in 2008 and leaves as the longest-serving director in the organization's history.
While she took over in the midst of the contentious debate over the county's general plan update, White said she will most remember efforts to bridge the so-called “lettuce curtain” between  the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas Valley, particularly on Fort Ord development and water supply project issues involving desalination and recycled water, and counts the organization’s backing of the Tanimura & Antle farmworker housing project in Spreckels among her proudest achievements. 
White was also known for her work on the Pebble Beach Company inclusionary housing project, the Whispering Oaks business park proposal, and Heritage Oaks, Ferrini Ranch, Harper Canyon, and Monterey Downs.
In a statement announcing her departure, Landwatch said White leaves the organization with "an incredible legacy of successful advocacy and consensus-building," and credited White's leadership with allowing the organization to become "a more powerful force for responsible growth and strong communities throughout Monterey County."

Friday, April 15, 2016

King City hosts public hearings for switch to district elections

King City officials have scheduled three hearings to consider draft plants and input as they move from at-large to district elections.

The three hearings will be held at King City City Hall, 212 S. Vanderhurst Ave., in the City Council Chambers. The hearings are scheduled for:

Saturday, April 16 at 1 p.m.
Monday, April 25 at 6 p.m.
Tuesday, May 24 at 6 p.m.

At the conclusion of the final hearing, the City Council will vote on an ordinance officially adopting district elections and setting the district boundaries.

The King City City Council voted in February to switch from at-large to district elections, starting with this November’s election when three Council seats are up for election. Latino activists had pushed for district elections because King City’s population is nearly 90 percent Latino, but only one of the city’s elected councilmembers is a Latina.

City of Monterey hosts LEGO build event Saturday

The city of Monterey on Saturday is celebrating the revitalization of the Monterey Conference Center with a LEGO build event at Custom House Plaza from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. where kids of all ages can create and build their on LEGO model and community around the center.
The free event will be held in the white tent on the plaza with Play-Well TEKnologies, an engineering program for kids, providing the age-appropriate LEGO bricks for ages 3 and up.
“We want to celebrate this project with families and bring the community together now to help us visualize our city when the conference center revitalization is complete,” said Community Services Director Kim Bui-Burton.
Along with the city of Monterey and the Monterey Conference Center, the event is made possible by Stronghold Engineering and Ausonio Construction.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Salinas Valley groundwater sustainability effort in early stages

If the discussion at this week's latest Salinas Valley groundwater basin collaborative work group meeting was any indication, it looks like interest groups with a stake in the future of water in the agriculture-rich and populous river-fed basin are leaning toward creating a new government agency to oversee state-mandated local efforts to bring the overdrafted basin into balance.
During an informal query of the 22-member work group on Wednesday, the clear preference among those who spoke was in favor of forming a new groundwater sustainability agency, though there was also an indication that some existing agencies - Marina Coast Water District for one - could look to assume control of their slice of the basin.
Some also pointed out that the basin includes a number of diverse interests and sub-basins, and could require a number of different groundwater sustainability plans.
Two years ago, state legislation passed requiring formal management and oversight of groundwater for the first time in state history. Known as the Sustainability Groundwater Management Act, the legislation required the establishment of groundwater sustainability agencies by 2017 with broad oversight power of groundwater basins, and the creation of groundwater sustainability plans by 2020 designed to balance basin usage and recharge by 2040.
The local work group has been meeting since early March, conducting three sessions thus far, and is planning a Salinas Valley groundwater basin stakeholder forum on May 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers at the County Government Center in Salinas.
Work group members and the group's facilitator, Gina Bartlett of the Consensus Building Institute, stressed the need to reach out to and inform the public about the work under way and how it affects the community.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Salinas celebration day planned for April 16

Salinas government, community and faith Leaders will host a city wide volunteer day on April 16 at Sherwood Park in Salinas. The purpose of the event is to celebrate living in the City of Salinas while also promoting community service and neighborhood safety.

The event will feature a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by volunteer activities, and a celebration planned beginning at 11:30AM. The celebration is free and will include various activities, performances and a free lunch for volunteers. Special attention has been dedicated to disaster preparedness. PG&E will have a special display and discussion. There will be emergency gas and water shut off tools distributed to neighborhood leaders as well.

The event began in 2011 under the leadership of Honorary Co-Chairs Bill and Betty Turner. “Salinas is a beautiful community and we are stronger when neighbors know neighbors and look out for one another,” shared Event Founding Co-Chair, Bill Turner. “I’m delighted we can do something for homeless children. They need our help,” continued Turner.

Friday, April 8, 2016

California Department of Pesticide Regulation to host meeting in Spreckels

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation will host a  workshop in Monterey County to hear ideas on how to notify residents living around agricultural fields when fumigants are applied.

Fumigants are gaseous pesticides injected into the ground before a crop is planted. Increasingly, the public wants to know what chemicals are being applied around them. California grows much of the nation’s produce and growers rely on these chemicals to attack pests that would otherwise destroy their crops.

“People have become a lot more conscious about what chemicals are used to grow their food in the fields that are around them. And it is essential that we take the time to listen about how best to notify them when these pesticides are used,” said DPR Director Brian Leahy.

DPR is now seeking to standardize the notification of these rules on a statewide basis by creating a new regulation. The two workshops will enable the department to gather input from stakeholders to help determine what notification is appropriate for these fumigations.

The new regulation DPR is developing would lay out how people living near areas to be fumigated should be notified. In particular DPR would like to hear:

• When and under what circumstances such notifications should be made;

• What is the appropriate distance, between the treated field and residents, that requires notification;

• What other information the notice should include.

The Monterey County workshop will take place from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on April 12 at the Spreckels Veterans Memorial Building, 90 5th Street, Spreckels. For more information, visit the California Department of Pesticide Regulation here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Yes on Measure X signs stolen from outside Pacific Grove's Chamber office

Measure X is heating up in Pacific Grove just in time for the city's annual Good Old Days, which draws upwards of 10,000 people to the streets of downtown.

On Thursday, Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce President Moe Ammar provided video evidence of "Yes on Measure X" signs being taken down from in front of the Chamber's office on Central Avenue. The Chamber voiced its support of Measure X and the proposed Project Bella project early on.

The videos (available here) clearly show two incidents of signs being taken and replaced with "No on Measure X" signs.

The Pacific Grove Police Department is currently conducting an investigation and attempting to identify the suspects in the video footage.

According to Project Bella partner Ron Meer, over 100 Yes on X signs valued at $1,200 have been removed or stolen throughout Pacific Grove at both residential and commercial properties.

Salinas libraries celebrate National Library Week

There will be lots of books, cake and celebrations throughout the Salinas libraries during the week of April 10 - 16 in celebration of National Library Week. The events will include:

April 10:
#LibrariesTransform at each branch all day.

April 12:
100th birthday celebration of Beverly Clearly, beloved children's books author, at each branch from 3 - 5 p.m.

April 13: 
National Bookmobile Day at:
El Gabilan Library, 1400 N. Main St. from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Cesar Chavez Library, 615 Williams Rd., from 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., with cake at 4 p.m.
John Steinbeck Library, 350 Lincoln Ave.,  from 4 - 5 p.m.

April 14: 
Book excerpts with Dark Surf author Tina Zmak at John Steinbeck Library from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

April 16: 
Cake at John Steinbeck and El Gabilan Libraries  at 12 p.m.

All the local Library Week events are free and open to all ages. More information is available here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

People in other "Seasides" want their In-N-Out too

James Herrera - Monterey Herald
The interest in the newly opened In-N-Out Burger in Seaside reached readers in Oregon, New York and, especially, New Jersey. Seems people living in other "Seasides" are hungry for their own double-doubles.
Seaside >> The new In-N-Out Burger restaurant at 1350 Del Monte Blvd in Seaside has been open for two weeks now and people on the Monterey Peninsula seem to have settled into a happy daze knowing the prospect of a double-double is just a short drive away.

But from the time an article ran in The Herald announcing the opening day of March 22, there has been a heavy click rate on our website coming mostly from the right coast.

It seems people in New Jersey, New York and even Oregon have inquired about where exactly 'their" In-N-Out can be found. The latest email came in this morning.

"I saw a couple of weeks ago that you wrote an article about In N Out Burger opening in Seaside, NJ. Has there been any updates if it's open yet? Please let me know when you can, I've been dying to try In N Out for years now. Thank you."

Thank you for your email. It's always good to hear from our readers.
Unfortunately I have some good news and bad news for you.

First the bad news. The In-N-Out Burger written about in The Monterey  newspaper and carried on our website is in Seaside, California.

The good news is it has been open for two weeks now and fans of the burger joint, who have waited years for it to finally come to fruition, are happily downing all the restaurant has to offer.

I hope you have a passable alternative to In-N-Out Burger in your area because the family-owned restaurants are only in California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Utah and Texas.

How's Burger 25? (A search named this restaurant the top burger joint in Seaside Heights, NJ)

There are 7 cities with the name Seaside in the U.S. located in California, Oregon, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York and Connecticut. Seaside Heights is in New Jersey.