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2019 State of the Region Recap

MBEP’s 5th Annual State of the Region on October 25th, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey was another compelling gathering of leaders from across the region and the state with relevant topics that inspired collaboration and action. Attendees learned about innovations in housing, healthcare, workforce, and transportation, and exciting new technologies, tools, and models that are coming to our region. Click here for a full video recap of the event.

Thank you to all of you who participated!  Our goal is to produce informative and engaging events that tackle the most important issues facing the Monterey Bay region. We’re glad you joined us and hope to see you at our 6th Annual Economic Summit on April 29, 2020 at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz. Save the date!

Our 5th Annual State of the Region opened with a soulful spoken word poem by MBEP’s own Rafael Hernandez…click here for the full video.

Welcome from Kate Roberts

Following Rafael’s poem, Kate welcomed the audience with an economic snapshot of the region.  Click here to view the presentation slides.

Highlights from Keynote Speaker Betty Yee, Controller, State of California

State Controller Betty Yee shared with the audience that California — as the fifth largest economy in the world — is closely watched not just “with respect to how we are continuing to grow and prosper economically, but also with respect to how we’re going to deal with some of our challenges.”

Those challenges include what she said is the highest effective rate of poverty in the United States, due largely to the state’s affordability crisis, and it will continue to be an economic drag as long as workers are hard-pressed to find affordable housing in proximity to well-paying jobs and good schools. According to the nonpartisan legislative

analyst’s office, the state needs 100,000 to 140,000 more housing units per year than it’s currently building to catch up with the demand for affordable housing.

The UCLA Anderson forecast anticipates the state’s unemployment rate will rise to about 5.1% by the fourth quarter of 2020, said Yee, due in large part to slow national growth and a weak housing market. That forecast stops short of predicting a recession, and Yee said the state is positioned to weather the downturn with robust reserves.

Demographic shifts could impact the state’s future and its workforce, as housing costs drive residents away from California. “Last year, California had the slowest population growth in recorded history,” said Yee. “If the status quo continues, we may face a future without the diverse workforce that fuels the economics, that success that we have been experiencing.”

The governor’s budget includes more than $1 billion to address homelessness, including $650 million in emergency

aid for cities and counties and regional homelessness prevention agencies, $250 million to help cities and counties plan for new housing, $500 million for developer loans to build affordable housing. and $500 million to expand the state’s low-income housing tax credit.

“We know that we’ve got to keep this engine of innovation going in California, including in the Monterey Bay region,” said Yee, “and so addressing the state’s housing needs is very much a part of how we are going to be sure that continues to be possible.” Click here for a video of her full keynote presentation.

Artwork courtesy of Kathleen Crocetti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Highlights from Keynote Speaker Dr. Victoria Sweet
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, UC San Francisco

Afternoon keynote Dr. Victoria Sweet is the author of God’s Hotel” and “Slow Medicine,” books that argue that medical practice would be less expensive and more effective if doctors were simply afforded the time they need to spend with patients to accurately diagnose and treat them.

Sweet, who spent 20 years practicing medicine at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, explores concepts of Western modern medicine, with its rational, logical methods for arriving at a diagnosis and treatment, and the intangible pieces that Western medicine can’t answer: “the doctor-patient relationship or the placebo effect or the way certain people would get better from fatal diseases for no apparent reason.” Her exploration of alternative medicines, Chinese medicine, ayurvedic and other ways of looking at the body led her to a book on Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century nun, mystic, composer and philosopher and medical practitioner. In time, she came to understand that while modern medicine treats the body as a machine and the doctor like a mechanic of diseases. Hildegard’s model likens the body to a plant,  with the doctor more like a gardener than a mechanic. The fundamental difference, she says, is that a plant has the power to heal itself, what Hildegard called “veriditas.” “The job of the doctor was to be a gardener and to remove what’s in the way of his or her patient healing.”

Sweet shared stories of how the time afforded her with patients at the former almshouse revealed that many of those patients had been diagnosed with diseases they didn’t have, and were taking medications they didn’t need and that no one else had had the time to look closer at what was really going on. One patient was on prostate-shrinking medication five years after his prostate was removed; another was on AIDS medicine but didn’t have AIDS, and some patients were on insulin for diabetes they didn’t have.

“Nobody else had had that time to take them off,” said Sweet. “And I was really fascinated by how apparently inefficient what I was doing seemed, but actually how efficient it was.”

Sweet said several other doctors around the world began talking about slow medicine at the same time as she did, which she says is telling of the trend in medicine toward increasing levels of administration, endless forms and rising healthcare costs. Click here for a video of her full keynote presentation.

Artwork courtesy of Kathleen Crocetti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Lightning Rounds

This year at State of the Region, we introduced Lightning Rounds – short talks in a 10-minute format designed to give participants a chance to learn more about an issue pertinent to the region, as well as solutions and opportunities for involvement.

Transportation Transformation at the Block Level

Transportation Agency of Monterey County (TAMC) and Rick Riedl, Public Works Director, City of Seaside, shared their experiences implementing the Broadway Avenue Safe Street Demo earlier this year. The biggest issue with transportation in our region may not actually be traffic, says Green, but the fact that human brains are hardwired to stick with old habits, even if they’re bad for us. A new approach is needed, as 70 of children are driven to school, contributing not only to traffic but also childhood obesity. The good news, says Green, is that each one of us has the

power to create better transportation, healthier, safer transportation, our own communities. To help change perspectives and create awareness, TAMC partnered with the City of Seaside, Ecology Action and the Monterey County Health Department in May on “pop-up” street designs, giving the community a chance to physically test out a new street design on Broadway Avenue near an elementary school. That was combined with a bike and walk-to-school day, crossing guard and communication about nearby locations where parents could park and walk kids to school rather than using the drop-off circle.

“By the second week of our demonstration,” said Green, “we actually saw 65% increase in walking during the morning peak, which is pretty amazing.”

Other Lightning Rounds during our State of the Region: Creating the Right Regional Scenario for Prosperity and Equity” featuring Alicia John-Baptiste, CEO, SPUR (San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association); “JobTrain CEO Barrie Hathaway on “Creating a Pipeline for Entry-level IT Jobs”; “New Learning Ecosystems” with Matt Williams, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, KnowledgeWorks Foundation; “Solutions to Childcare Conundrum” with Katy Castagna, CEO, United Way Monterey County, and Daneen Guss, Superintendent, Monterey County Office of Education; “Why Internships Matter” with Malina Long, Associate Executive Director, Your Future is Our Business’ “Forest Resilience and Economic Development” with Barbara Hayes, Chief Economic Development Officer, Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC); and “Climate Action Planning for a Sustainable, Equitable Region” with Ben Eichert, Director, Greenpower.

For a video of our morning lightning rounds click here. For a video of our afternoon lightning rounds click here.

Artwork courtesy of Kathleen Crocetti, Artistic Director, un Watsonville Brillante

Panel Dives into Workforce Housing Issues

Launching into a panel discussion on affordable workforce housing at Friday’s State of the Region, an informal audience poll through the Attendify app indicated that a lack of political will to approve higher-density multifamily housing was perceived as the greatest barrier to workforce housing in the region, ranking behind such other factors as lack of local subsidies, inadequate water supplies, high construction costs, escalating impact fees, or inadequate infrastructure. Attendees also agreed that the housing crisis was creating a challenging environment to recruit and retain local talent.

MBEP Housing Program Manager Matt Huerta moderated a panel discussion on “Removing Barriers to Workforce Housing,” featuring Megan Hunter, Community Development Director for the City of Salinas,  Abby Lindsay Ostovar, Water, Climate, & Environmental Governance Specialist, and Sibley Simon, Managing Principal, Envision Housing.

Matt Huerta, MBEP Housing Program Manager

Abby Lindsay Ostovar, Water, Climate, & Environmental Governance Specialist

Megan Hunter, Community Development Director for the City of Salinas

Sibley Simon, Managing Principal, Envision Housing

Sibley Simon gave an update on the implementation of MBEP’s Nine Recommendations for Realistic Housing Policy Changes. As the principal author of the white paper and a housing developer, Simon has spent the past five years immersed in finding solutions to a housing shortfall that would require the Monterey Bay region to build 69,000 new housing units just to match the more reasonable amount of housing per capita across the United States.

Public funding is creating close to 1,000 units of affordable housing a year in California, says Simon, but that’s nowhere close to keeping up with demand. “There are things on the table to try to get that higher … and we need to do that,” said Simon. “But when we’re looking at needing 180,000 units a year in California to break even with increases in demand and millions of units, we clearly need to do many other things if we’re not going to just keep letting this problem get worse. “

What’s needed, he said, is a model of development that is lower risk and lower return. “We have to have that. We’re not gonna start reversing digging out of this crisis until we have that.”

Presenting the findings of a study commissioned by MBEP on the linkages between housing and water, Abby Lindsay Ostovar said additional water supplies won’t automatically generate new housing in the region.  No easy solutions exist, she said, given the legal, environmental and financial challenges that surround water in the region.

Already, the Monterey Peninsula is saving more than 3,000 acre-feet per year, or a fourth of current demand, thanks to increased conservation efforts, and aquifer storage and recovery, recycling efforts and potential desalination could have a positive impact on supply.

Among the recommendations from MBEP’s study are updating planning documents to facilitate the development of higher-density housing and reducing impact fees based on size, type of unit, landscaping and affordability. “Multifamily units on average use less water than single-family homes and are often more affordable,” said Ostovar. “Having more higher-density housing actually helps the water situation as well.”

Hunter said Salinas is taking bold action to address its housing crisis, with council support and strong leadership on behalf of  City Manager Ray Corpus. When the city initiated a farmworker housing study, it quickly became clear that a regional approach was needed, so the City of Salinas spent more than $300,000 to produce a Regional Farmworker Housing Study and action plan with MBEP and other partners.

The city has also adopted innovative policies including adaptive reuse and inclusionary housing, collecting development fees at occupancy rather than upfront, and a five-year “fee holiday” for accessory dwelling units. The city has invested heavily in helping create close to 600 housing units in the past decade. “We wish it were more,” said Hunter. Our challenge has been subsidies.” Ultimately, she said the city has a goal of 4,000 affordable units in the next 10 years.

One of the most most significant developments likely to impact workforce housing are state policies that mandate more shared responsibility among cities for solving regional housing challengings, according to Simon. Accelerating existing efforts to plan for density in downtowns, such as is happening in Watsonville and Santa Cruz, will play a key role in solving those challenges, he said.

MBEP Community Impact Award

MBEP Board Chair Eduardo Ocha, CSUMB president, and Vice Chair Matt Huffaker, Watsonville city manager, presented MBEP’s Community Impact Award to Tellus Venture Associates President Stephen Blum. Given each year at the State of the Region, the award is in recognition of an individual or organization who demonstrates significant community impact, tangible job creation or measurable impact in other ways, particularly in regards to multiple projects that demonstrate commitment to the community and quiet leadership from deeds or action that inspire others.

Blum’s consulting firm helps communities develop broadband policies, programs, and networks that attract new businesses and jobs, revitalize commercial and industrial areas and deliver state-of-the-art resources to residents and businesses. “His dedication and work have demonstrated both equity and economic impact,” said Ochoa. “Steve has been an unsung hero, especially for the underserved areas of Monterey County.”

Huffaker said he’s had the opportunity to see firsthand Blum’s efforts to expand Watsonville’s fiber network over the  last couple of years and to expand broadband access in Watsonville, but said he’s really had a statewide impact.

“He’s been instrumental in bringing high-speed broadband to the region, including assistance with the Sunesys fiber backbone from Salinas to UC Santa Cruz. As a key member of the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, he has led and advocated for many projects in underserved communities. Steve has planned and implemented municipal fiber networks in Watsonville, San Leandro, Union City, and Santa Cruz and has developed broadband master plans for over 20 cities throughout the state of California. Steve has developed business plans and financing for CASF grant funding projects. Steve was an invaluable partner to MBEP and our broadband initiative.

Blum thanked those who have participated in the Central Coast Broadband Consortium for the past 10 years. “We believe that broadband is uniquely suited to enable opportunities for people well into the 21st century. It’s going to be what the 21st century is about. We are about kicking in the door to opportunities to disrupting the status quo. And I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to take part in this, and that this work we believe is both meaningful and effective.”

For a link to video of the award presention, please click here.

Fireside Chat – Admiral Ann Rondeau, President, Naval Postgraduate School

MBEP President Kate Roberts hosted a Fireside Chat with Admiral Ann Rondeau, President, Naval Postgraduate School. Rondeau, a retired United States Navy Vice Admiral chosen to serve as NPS president in 2019, described the Monterey Bay region as rich in terms of military and national security and intellectual power. NPS alone has about 1,000 employees and 1,500 students, she said, and the number of military employees in the region, including the Defense Language Institute and other military, is about 15,000 and an overall economic impact of about $2 billion.

NPS has collaborated with industry and higher education, working with Stanford, Cal Tech, Lawrence Livermore Lab and, increasingly, California State University, Monterey Bay.

https://studio.youtube.com/video/YLyWcpIImwc/editWhile NPS’s transient student population typically gets military housing, the region’s housing costs are definitely an issue when it comes to attracting and retaining qualified faculty and staff, said Rondeau.  “There are an awful lot of civilians who travel a long way. We have people who are commuting an hour and a half one way  – they love the work, they love the area, they love what they do. But it’s gas mileage, it’s time away from their family and they’re doing it because of the love of the work, but they’re not loving the commute.”

Rondeau, who previously served as president of College of DuPage, said she’s thrilled with the extraordinary science, research and learning that happens at NPS on a daily basis. “We are at a point in the country that knowledge acquisition and being ready for the cognitive age is the best defense for democracy and for freedom and for goodness. And so that’s part of why I’m here: That that’s the kind of stuff that Naval Postgraduate School does – it makes our defense forces and our military just brighter and smarter and better to compete in the world.”

Rondeau described learning as “one of the noble acts of humankind” that defines part of the human experience, “a notion of learning that I can learn to do something and be better and I can contribute to a mission or a purpose.” She herself learns something new at NPS each day, such as acoustic vectoring to understand effects on mammal life in the ocean.

For a video of our fireside chat, please click here.

Closing Thoughts: Bay of Life — Monterey Bay as Wellspring of Well-Being

The day’s final speakers, Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom, shared a uniquely personal, global perspective on the region in “Closing Thoughts: Bay of Life — Monterey Bay as Wellspring of Well-Being.”  Lanting, a photographer, author and speaker, and Eckstrom, a writer and videographer, were introduced by John Laird, former California State Natural Resources Secretary. Together, they narrated a poetic vision of the region and a call to action, in a talk that makes up the backbone of a new project they’re developing about Monterey Bay, set for release it in 2022.

“We believe that in this place here we are all dependent on as we live and work in a Monterey Bay. Our point of view is that we are blessed to live in a place of natural abundance. And our point of view is that nature is a wellspring of our wellbeing here.”

For a video of the closing thoughts, please click here.

State of the Region in Pictures

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