The case for building more housing in Monterey is bolstered by a simple fact: state law requires it. By 2023, the city must increase its housing stock by 650 units. Considering the real estate market and the kind of money folks are shelling for rent or ownership in Monterey, it might seem like an easy goal. But it’s not, for several reasons.
One problem is that the State Water Resources Control Board has imposed a moratorium on new water service connections in the area. To build, a developer must obtain the rights to a preexisting connection. The other challenge is land. Only certain parts of the city are zoned for residential use. Then, there’s the political problem. Any real estate project has to attract enough support in order to overcome inevitable criticism and opposition.
On June 4, a major proposal for new housing faced a critical test at Monterey City Council and emerged successfully. By a 4-1 vote, council members approved a change to city code that would allow a private developer to apply to build up to 405 new apartments on the south side of Garden Road.
The change involves the rezoning of an area that was previously designated for offices and light industrial use only. The developers, Keith and Jannette Slama, are proposing to convert existing buildings—which already have water connections—into multifamily residential developments.
As part of the decision, the city is requiring that 20 percent of residential units in the Garden Road developments be reserved for affordable housing.
By approving the change, City Council overturned an April 23 ruling by the city Planning Commission, which voted 3-3 on the rezoning request, effectively denying it.
Among the supporters of the rezoning were the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership.
The citizen’s group LandWatch backed the proposal saying it promotes infill development.
“Rezoning Garden Road helps the city achieve its housing goals while avoiding sprawl onto the natural lands on the former Fort Ord,” the group’s executive director, Mike DeLapa, said at the council hearing.
“Integrating residential and industrial uses is more sustainable and climate-friendly than either industrial or residential zoning alone because it gets people closer to jobs, out of their cars, and on their feet and bicycles,” he added.