Friday, May 27, 2016

Salinas to host meeting about new marijuana businesses permits

Salinas city officials will begin the application period for commercial cannabis business permits on June 6. They'll host an information meeting from 3:30 to 5:00 pm the same day for those interested in learning more about the application process or guidelines. The meeting will take place at City Hall, 200 Lincoln Ave., Salinas.

The informational meeting is not mandatory in order to submit an application, but those who are interested in possibly submitting an application for a commercial cannabis business permit are highly encouraged to attend. Applications will be made available on June 6 on the City of Salinas's website and may be picked up beginning June 6 at the City Attorney's Office located inside City Hall.

Questions regarding the applications, application guidelines, or application process may be directed to the City Attorney's Office at

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two Monterey High School jazz musicians take center stage

Akili Bradley, left, and Marina Panzetta.
Two Monterey High School juniors who have been sitting in with jazz pros at the Hyatt Regency Monterey will be the center of attention Friday night as the Fireplace Lounge's featured performers.

Saxophonist Marina Panzetta and trumpeter Akili Bradley have made quite the impression on Hyatt jazz director and drummer in residence David Morwood.

They've studied with Monterey Jazz Festival clinicians and jammed with professional musicians during the hotel's weekly jazz program.

And their confidence is unshakable.

“I remember the weekend of the jazz festival, the room was packed with professional musicians and sophisticated fans," Morwood said. "They walked right up to me and said, ‘We want to play a Herbie Hancock tune, "Cantaloupe Island."' ... ‘They were so confident and clear and they knew what they wanted to do. They sat in with the professional band behind them and they held their own and really made the tune swing.”

They continued to practice and improve, he said, so “at a certain point I realized I wasn’t doing them any favors by having them sit in.”

He challenged them to come up with a list of 15 jazz tunes to play while backed up by a professional rhythm section. They came up with a mix of bebop, swing, jazz and bossa nova.

The program is from 7-10 p.m. It's what Morwood calls a Las Vegas-style set, with the house band -- Morwood, Gary Meek on keyboards and Billy Bosch on bass -- playing a few tunes, followed by Marina and Akili playing seven or eight songs. That format will repeat after an intermission.

Pacific Grove Police Chief search down to four with hire expected by July

The search for Pacific Grove's police chief is down to four, according to City Manager Ben Harvey, who said he hopes to name the city's new chief by July.
Harvey said the City had over 50 applicants and from that pool narrowed it down to 17 and then seven. Four of those candidates are being brought back for second interviews.

“I have been very pleased with the candidates and the process, and know that I will be able to select a highly qualified chief that is a good match for both the community, the department and the greater municipal organization,” said Harvey, noting that with the time needed for a background check and other reviews, he felt mid-summer was a good estimated hire date.

He also said that the city's interim Chief of Police Steve Belcher has been very involved in the selection process.

Recently, Salinas Chief Kelly McMillin announced his retirement and just this week, Seaside Police Chief Vicki Myers announced hers, which means that both of those city's officials will be conducting their own searches for a new police chief.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Police chiefs to retire in Monterey County's two largest cities

Seaside Police Chief Vicki Myers shown here at a news conference at the Monterey Police Station in 2015, announced she will retire in May 2017.  (Vern Fisher - Monterey Herald)

Seaside >> When Seaside Police Chief Vicki Myers announced Monday she will retire in May 2017, it meant the two largest cities in Monterey County will have new top cops in the next year.

Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin announced last month he plans on retiring in October. Pacific Grove and King City also have police chief openings. Myers said she spoke with McMillin while considering when to retire.

"We had different idle conversations and we jokingly have said, 'Police officers who don't retire when they can, it's because they're bad at math,' " Myers said. "We just talked about it and he said he was looking at (retirement) for different reasons and I know that he was going to meet with (the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training). He talked about it and the different things and opportunities; you just kind of talk about those things."

When he announced his retirement, McMillin explained it wouldn't make financial sense for him to continue in the position. Like Myers, he said he looks forward to being able to spend more time with family and friends.

Myers mentioned it was time to make way for a "new generation of leadership" in Seaside in a press release announcing her retirement. A majority of the police chief positions in Monterey County will have turned over in the past few years once she retires.

Monterey Police Chief Dave Hober took over as the permanent chief less than a year ago and Greenfield selected Adele Frese to head its police department in 2014. Brian Ferrante took over as Sand City chief in 2015, 

When Reuters spoke to the Police Executive Research Forum in December, the nonprofit group told the news organization that big city police chiefs last an average of 2.5 to 3.5 years on the job. Police chiefs of smaller cities last an average of just over four years. According to the 335 chiefs surveyed by PERF, their predecessors lasted slightly longer, from five to six years.

By the time Myers plans on retiring in May 2017, she will have been on the job 6.5 years. McMillin will have been chief for about 4.5 years when he retires.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pacific Grove's Beach House at Lovers Point to add cafe

At Pacific Grove's Wednesday city council meeting, Kevin Phillips, owner of the Beach House restaurant at Lovers Point, said that after a four-year process, the building permit for their coffee shop has been approved.
Phillips, who expects the cafe to be completed by summer, said it will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.Besides its coffee, baked goods and expanded food offerings, it will offer free Wi-Fi for the entire Lovers Point beach area. For Phillips, the project is personal. He's a long-time Pacific Grove resident whose son Jeremy is the restaurant's general manager. He said he hopes the cafe's offerings will not only attract visitors but provide local Pacific Grove residents with a new morning coffee ritual. 

Pacific Grove Chamber's Moe Ammar notes new interest in Lighthouse Avenue properties

During the public comment period at Pacific Grove's city council meeting this week, Chamber President Moe Ammar noted that three buildings on Lighthouse Avenue were being sold for “$3 and $4 million.” Later, Ammar confirmed to The Herald that the property at 522 Lighthouse where re-purposed furniture and clothing store Marina Patina is currently located, just sold for approximately $1 million. Ammar said the property’s new owner is Greg Zimmerman, the former owner of Pacific Grove’s Sea Breeze Inn and the current owner of the Monterey Peninsula Inn. According to Ammar, Zimmerman has plans to turn the property that still has gas pumps from when it served as a filling station in front of its facade, into a mixed use building with condos and retail/restaurant.
"It'll be kind of what the Holman is like but on a smaller scale," said Ammar. "Instead of 25 condos it would have probably 10."
Ammar credited the partners of Monterey Capital Real Estate Development, the development company behind Pacific Grove's Holman Building, for instigating the renewed interest in the downtown area. 
"Every city and every economic development person will tell you the way you revitalize cities is by mixed use," said Ammar. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Salinas councilman to host townhall meeting about new chief of police

Salinas Councilman Tony Barrera will host a townhall meeting at 6 p.m. on June 2 so people can chime in about the qualities they'd like to see in the new chief of police.

Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin announced in April he would retire in early October.

The townhall meeting will take place at the Jessie G. Sanchez Education Center, 901 N. Sanborn Rd. Salinas. For more information, call 831-206-7563 or

City of Monterey approves Osio lease; adopts Villa del Monte Neighborhood plan

By the end of the month, cinema lovers in Monterey will have another venue to lean back, break out the popcorn and candy watch movies.
It wasn't unexpected, but at Monterey's city council meeting on Tuesday, the terms of the Osio Cinemas lease were worked out in a closed session after the first part of the city council meeting. All that's left to make the agreement final, according to Assistant Manager Hans Uslar, are the needed signatures.
“I'm so pleased we're going to see that back in operation again,” said coucil woman Libby Downey, about news of the Osio's return to Monterey. And in the case of the Osio Cinemas, patrons will even be able to buy a glass of wine to accompany their film-watching venture because that too will be among the Osio's refreshment offerings.
Before the city approved the lease agreement, Mayor Roberson bestowed a proclamation to 17-year-old Sydney Martindale, who found the missing head of the decapitated Junipero Serra statue when she was exploring tide pools in Breakwater Cove last month.
“It was really a lucky find,” said Martindale as she accepted the proclamation. “The tide was just right.”
It was also fortunate that Martindale's grandmother was the head docent at the Carmel Mission and recognized what Martindale said “looked pretty much like a rock made of granite” after Martindale discovered it and decided to lug it up a hill to show her family.
Also on Tuesday, the city council adopted the Villa del Monte Neighborhood Revitalization Plan with residents praising the progress and teamwork that led to its approval bu council members.
“It will give our neighborhood an identity, which is sorely needed,” said resident Karla Blossom.
The council also heard from residents about the proposed neighborhood improvement plan involving Ferrante (ball) park with some residents speaking in favor of keeping the park. That's a discussion to be continued at future council meetings.
Wrapping up the meeting was a presentation by Tammy Blount of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau who noted positive trends for the city's hotel tax and return on investment. She also said that the economic impact from groups booked in the city has grown by nearly 200 percent in the past year.

Seaside Resort Development equity partner still a mystery

Vern Fisher - Monterey Herald
Construction on one of the thirty housing lots at The Enclave at Cypress Grove at Bayonet and Black Horse golf courses in Seaside on Thursday, February 25, 2016. The housing development is part of the Seaside Resort Development.
On Thursday, Mayor Ralph Rubio confirmed that the Seaside City Council/Successor Agency to Redevelopment Agency/Parking Authority would meet in closed session to discuss terms for the Seaside Resort Development project, concerning price and terms of payment as well as other contingencies.

There has been speculation of who the equity partner on the project is since earlier this year but neither  SRD nor the city will name it.
On Thursday, Rubio said he was not at liberty to announce who the development company's equity partner is because they "are still doing their due diligence."
But he said the announcement is imminent and he expects it "real soon."
In February, Craig Malin, Seaside city manager, confirmed that Seaside Resort Development, LLC had found an equity partner “associated with the highest quality projects in the nation” to bring on to the luxury resort development project that has been on the city’s books for about 16 years.
“Seaside Resort Development has secured a new partner to complete the full project,” said Malin. “I hope they announce who it is soon. I want to be gracious to them and their equity partner and not steal their thunder.
“This development means hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact over the next few decades,” said Malin. “It’s a big deal.”

Board of Supervisors: Pilot health program for uninsured needs more public outreach

A six-month report to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday regarding a pilot program offering supplemental health services to county residents who are ineligible for health insurance assistance and coverage because they are in the country illegally showed about $36,000 out of a $500,000 budget had been spent to offer services to about 750 participants.
That prompted a call from the supervisors and a representative of the faith-based Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action organization for more public outreach and consideration of an expanded scope of services.
Interim county health director Elsa Jimenez told the board increased outreach efforts are in the works, including on Spanish-language radio talk shows, and there has been discussion about expending covered services.
Started on Nov. 1, the program offers the uninsured access to specific pharmacy, laboratory and radiology services.
Also Tuesday, the supervisors called for completion of negotiations on an Interlake Tunnel project labor agreement, which is apparently stalled over a drug testing policy clause in the proposed agreement that the board approved in principle last month. 
The stalled talks prompted Supervisor Jane Parker to note that influential building trades union wouldn’t support State Assemblyman Luis Alejo’s legislative bid for up to $25 million in state funding for the $76.7 million proposal as long as the agreement remains unfinished.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Seaside students show support for multicultural arts center

Art students at Seaside High School participate in their ninth annual chalk art competition
on campus in 2015. (Vern Fisher -- Monterey Herald)

In deciding whether to pursue a multicultural arts center in Seaside, Juan L. Sanchez of the new organization Palenke Arts surveyed 144 Seaside High School music and art students last June to gauge their interest in the idea.

The five-question survey -- part multiple choice, part free response -- found that nearly all of them were in favor of it. Forty-two percent said they would use it often, 36 percent said on occasion and 16 percent said they would use the center every day.

"Based on our survey, a center for the arts in Seaside is something which is not only needed in order to further develop our youth's artistic talents, but is also something which many students would openly embrace," according to a survey analysis. "Opening a multicultural arts center in a town full of young individuals seeking outlets to express their creativity would be extremely beneficial to the community."

In their free responses, students wrote about why they would welcome such a center.

"This is an amazing idea," wrote one. "Not only does it bring Seaside's performing arts community together, it also provides a place for people to go who lack the resources."

"It's a great idea because it will motivate kids, young and older, to express themselves with art and to give them something else to value in life," wrote another.

In an interview with The Herald, Sanchez said his takeaway was that students "know what they have and what they don't," emphasizing that the center would reflect Seaside's cultural as well as socioeconomic diversity.

One of the students said the center would be good because they wouldn't have to give concerts in the gym anymore, where acoustics are terrible. Sanchez said he'd like to see a center that's something akin to Carmel High School's Performing Arts Center, if not as grand -- "nice enough that it's an upgrade from what kids are performing in these days."

The project is in its very beginning stages. A festival introducing the community to the idea and Palenke Arts is this Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. at Laguna Grande Park.

You can read the full survey analysis here.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Former NAACP head Ben Jealous to speak at Seaside Bernie Sanders rally

Ben Jealous speaks at the Panetta Institute in Monterey on April 20, 2015. (Vern Fisher - Monterey Herald)

Seaside >> Ben Jealous, the former president and CEO of the NAACP, will speak Saturday in Seaside at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, according to a post on the Sanders website.

Jealous, 43, announced his endorsement of Sanders in February. The Monterey Peninsula native will give two commencement speeches earlier Saturday at CSU Monterey Bay.

While the Sanders website lists the location of the rally as to be determined, it lists the time of the event as 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. A post on the Monterey Bay for Bernie Sanders Facebook group by page admin Natalie Gray states: "We have a Yuuggge event coming on Saturday, May 21st, at 6 PM. Venue is being locked down, but save the date. : )"

The event listing on the Sanders website states other speakers will also be featured during the rally.

Graduates from the CSUMB's College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Business will listen to Jealous' speech at the 10 a.m. commencement. The 3 p.m. event featuring Jealous will honor graduates from the College of Education, the College of Health Sciences and Human Services and the College of Science. Both will be take place at Freeman Stadium on campus.

CSUMB will award Jealous, and Panetta Institute CEO Sylvia Panetta, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the ceremonies.

Jealous endorsed Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta in the House race for retiring Rep. Sam Farr's (D-Carmel) seat in Congress. Panetta's parents are Sylvia Panetta and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Before Farr took the seat in 1993, Leon Panetta represented the Central Coast in Congress. Bill Clinton selected Panetta as his director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1993.

"Jimmy Panetta is a good man, a dedicated public servant, and leads with courage and integrity," Jealous said in a quote posted on Panetta's website. "He is committed to inclusion and will serve the Central Coast and our Country well in Congress."

Jealous, who comes from a family of civil rights crusaders, was educated locally at Ord Terrace Elementary School in Seaside, Pacific Grove Middle School and York School in Monterey. He was elected head of the NAACP in 2008 -- the youngest leader in its history -- and served for four years.

He is currently a partner at the Oakland-based Kapor Center for Social Impact, a venture capital firm whose stated focus is creating opportunities and leveling the playing field for young minorities who are interested in entering the field of information technology.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The present and future of bicycling in Salinas, the topic of a panel discussion

“Bicycling in Salinas – Now and in the Future,” will be the topic of a discussion to take place at Destination Salinas, 222 Main Street in Oldtown Salinas at 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 19.

The panel will include Matthew Sundt of Velo Club Monterey and Eric Petersen of Pedali Alpini, Inc. The purpose of Velo Club Monterey is to foster and encourage bicycling activities and opportunities. Members regularly volunteer during Bike Month, Sea Otter Classic, bicycle rodeos, local group rides and centuries throughout the year. Matthew Sundt is president.

Pedali Alpini is one of the oldest and bicycle organizations in the United States. It promotes the annual Salinas Criterium bicycle race, as well as other activities during Bike Month. This year, Pedali Alpini celebrates its sixtieth anniversary.

Further information can be obtained here , or 831-442-8356.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

State estimate shows Monterey County grew by 1 percent in 2015

The University Village Apartments in Marina was completed in 2014. Marina's population grew by 2.4 percent in 2015. Vern Fisher — Monterey Herald

Monterey >> According to provisional estimates from the California Department of Finance, Monterey County's population grew 1 percent in 2015 from 432,637 to 437,178.

Soledad's population grew by 3 percent, the largest growth rate in the county and one of the 16 highest growth rates in the state, going from 24,809 to 25,556. A news release from the Department of Finance explained Soledad was among the cities that experienced some of the largest proportional population gains in 2015 due to increases in local correctional facilities. The Salinas Valley State Prison is located in the city.

Greenfield's population grew at a similar rate to Soledad, expanding 2.9 percent from 16,947 to 17,446 in 2015. Marina's population expanded by 2.4 percent from 20,496 to 20,982.

The only city in Monterey County that saw its population shrink was Seaside, where the number dropped 0.3 percent from 34,185 to 34,071. Only 43 other municipalities in the state saw their population decline.

The city of Monterey saw minor population growth, increasing 0.1 percent from 28,576 to 28,610. Pacific Grove grew 0.7 percent from 15,251 to 15,352. Sand City's population grew a whopping five people, increasing 1.3 percent from 376 to 381. Carmel expanded 0.2 percent from 3,824 to 3,833. Del Rey Oaks added 11 people to grow 0.7 percent (1,655 to 1,666).

Salinas, the county seat and by far the largest city in the county, added about 1,500 people to increase its population 1 percent (159,486 to 161,042). Gonzales grew 0.7 percent from 8,411 to 8,473. King City's population grew 1.5 percent, going from 14,008 to 14,221.

The rest of the county expanded 0.9 percent from 104,613 to 105,545.

The state's population grew by 0.9 percent, adding 348,000 residents to the new total of 39,256,000. San Joaquin County grew the most (over 1.3 percent), followed by Yolo, Riverside, and Santa Clara counties, which all expanded by just under 1.3 percent. Los Angeles, the state's largest city, added more than 50,000 people to break the 4 million mark for the first time (4,031,000).

San Jose, with a population of 1,042,000, added more than 12,000 people, while San Francisco, with a population of 867,000, added more than 9,000 people in 2015.

The population estimates are produced annually by the Department of Finance for use by local areas to calculate their annual appropriations limit.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pacific Grove holds the line on housing and butterfly habitats

There were some different housing issues addressed in Pacific Grove this week. One involved a housing unit and the other involved housing some butterflies.
The council on Wednesday denied the appeal by resident Jacqueline Trees upholding the planning commission’s decision to not continue to allow a 4th housing unit at 210 17 Mile Drive to exist.
City Manager Ben Harvey said that city staff will work with the existing tenants of the unit to help them relocate.
Trees was represented by attorney Anthony Davi in the appeal. 
Also Wednesday, the city’s butterfly habitat bonds were addressed with the bond payment of .0035 percent on assessed value of property in Pacific Grove approved.
“Each year, we have to adopt a resolution that says the tax rate,” said Harvey. “This is the second year of essentially paying off the mortgage on the butterfly habitat. After this year, we’ll have one more year to go.”

Fracking issue in Monterey County advances towards the November Ballot

James Herrera - Monterey Herald
An anti-fracking proponent speaks to a reporter as volunteers and supporters of the Protect Our Water initiative pose for a group photo after a press conference at a trail head to the Fort Ord National Monument in Salinas on Wednesday.

Salinas >> The group Protect Monterey County held a press conference Wednesday morning before delivering 16,108 signatures, more than double the amount needed to get the measure in front of voters in November, in support of an initiative to ban fracking and dangerous oil production practices in Monterey County.

The Protect Our Water: Ban Fracking and Limit Risky Oil Operations initiative:
• Bans fracking, acidizing, and other risky well stimulation treatments.
• Bans new, and phases out existing, wastewater injection wells and wastewater ponds. 80 percent of Monterey County’s wastewater injection wells are currently injecting contaminated water into protected aquifers, in violation of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act. There are safer alternatives for disposing of wastewater from oil production. For example, San Ardo’s wastewater treatment facility can currently clean up to 1/3 of the oil field’s wastewater using reverse osmosis technology. Why not clean up the other 2/3 instead of injecting it into protected aquifers? Wastewater ponds are a well-known hazard for surface water, groundwater, and wildlife. These should be phased out.
• Bans new oil and gas wells within Monterey County. The easy-to-extract oil has been removed. Any new drilling would rely on high-risk methods, which endanger our water, health, and economy. 
The initiative does not prohibit Monterey County’s more than 1,500 existing oil and gas wells. They can continue to operate.

But a group called the Monterey County Citizens for Energy Independence opposes this initiative.  It says that Senate Bill 4, signed into law in 2013 by Governor Brown, created the most transparent and stringent environmental protections in the country for well stimulation.

According to the Energy Independence website, Senate Bill 4 requires:
 An independent, science-based study of fracking
 The development of a comprehensive EIR
 A mandatory public disclosure of all chemicals used
 Well integrity testing before and after fracturing
 Regular testing of nearby drinking water sources
 Prior notification of surrounding land owners.

The initiative was drafted by a coalition of concerned citizens with the help of the environmental law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger.

After the press conference, the Protect Monterey County group headed to the Monterey County Elections Office to submit the petitions for consideration.