Campus Town

Seaside City Council's March 5 meeting had standing-room-only as community members filed in to speak in support of approving the Campus Town project. 

The biggest housing and commercial development in the history of Seaside was approved unanimously by City Council on March 5 in front of a large audience of community members. 

The Campus Town project involves the redevelopment of 122 acres on the former Fort Ord to create a mixed-use urban neighborhood with 1,485 housing units, hotels, 150,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment, as well as light industrial space. 

“It's in front of City Council at long last,” Seaside City Manager Craig Malin said at the March 5 meeting. “This project is socially progressive because I watched this community design it. This is what the citizens asked for. Thank you for dreaming big.” 

The project will be built by KB Bakewell, a partnership between the national builder KB Homes and Los Angeles-based The Bakewell Company—but it was designed by city planners who hired an architectural firm and solicited ideas and feedback from hundreds and perhaps thousands of Seaside residents. 

Based on the public comments in support of approving the project, the collaborative and egalitarian design process paid off. Almost no one raised any objections at the public meeting. Many of the local residents who showed up were people of color who described the project as a win for their community. 

“This is a racial justice issue,” one person said.

“We are not going anywhere, we are here to stay,” said another. 

Among the supporters were black church leaders, union members and local youth, as well as school district and business representatives.

The only significant criticism of the project came from an attorney who said his client is the Committee for Sound Water and Land Development of Fort Ord, a previously unknown group. 

He said that the city did not give the public enough time to review the project’s considerable environmental impact report and questioned the adequacy and availability of water for the project. 

In a similar vein, LandWatch, a nonprofit watchdog group focused on preventing urban sprawl, weighed in with a 58-page written comment ahead of the council meeting, raising questions about water supply for the project.

On Twitter and in an interview, Malin pushed back against environmental criticisms of Campus Town.

“It is remarkably off-brand for groups that purport to pursue environmental goals,” he says. “It sounds to me like if you are environmentalist, Campus Town is what you want to build.”

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers the environment, agriculture and K-12 education, as well as Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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