Garden Road, Monterey

MBEP Advocates for Collaborative Solutions to Regional Housing Shortage

Neighborhood opposition is typically the biggest obstacle to more affordable housing across the state and our region. Several recent legislative wins and a housing-friendly governor have strengthened housing production mandates to counteract this deep-seated opposition. Locally, MBEP’s Housing Initiative has created a large diverse coalition of advocates who can voice support: One major example of this occurred last year when the City of Monterey approved the rezoning of an underperforming industrial area along Garden Road. MBEP endorsed and led a large team of stakeholders that advocated for that rezoning which could see more than 400 housing units with at least 20 percent affordable to lower income households to meet the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. 

All of this momentum was recently challenged by another arm within the state government itself. The State’s Water Resource Control Board sent a warning to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD), which resulted in the District denying the City of Monterey’s request to allocate its reserve water allocation to activate hundreds of new homes, including affordable housing on Garden Road. The state board believes the request violates the cease and desist order from 2009 that limits new water meters and pumping from the Carmel River. The order prohibits allocating water to a project that changes land uses and therefore the city’s rezoning of Garden Road to allow residential is ineligible. Simply put, the state is mandating housing production, while at the same time limiting the development of affordable housing projects that have local support to transfer water credits within the MPWMD service area.

The momentum swung back toward winning more housing this past Monday. A coalition of advocates led in part by MBEP turned out in force to ask the Water District to allocate water, that it was recommending to deny, and instead, work with the City of Monterey to challenge the State WRCB’s determination. As a result of the advocacy effort, the board voted 5-2 to support over 5-acre feet of reserve water allocation requested by the city and to seek a settlement with the State Water Board. More advocacy at the state level is needed but if the decision is upheld, then Monterey is expected to see 303 new homes with approximately 233 of these homes as 100% affordable to our local workforce and lower-income households. The proposed affordable homes along Garden Road will be re-purposing underperforming commercial space and will be centrally located on the Peninsula serving the entire region. Prioritization of water for new higher-density housing is supported in MBEP’s Blue Paper, “A Study on the Impact of Water on Housing Development on the Monterey Peninsula,” where it shows that multi-family dwellings use less water than single-family homes on average.

Special thanks to the many strong voices of support including City of Monterey elected officials and staff, and representatives from Monterey Peninsula Renters United, Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, United Way Monterey County, Middlebury Institute of International Studies Student Housing Coalition, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, and the Monterey County Association of Realtors.

Please join this large coalition of supporters as we turn our attention to asking the State Water Resources Control Board to join the state legislature and governor in supporting solutions for more affordable housing production.

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