MAC Attack--New activist groups sets agenda in Monterey.
Thursday, January 29, 1998
Which was the straw that broke the camel''s back? What led to the creation of the Monterey Action Coalition (MAC), a political action group that aims to end the sweet complacency that has come over Monterey City Hall in recent years?
Was it the specter of a big-city mall-and-condo complex on Cannery Row? The prospect of business coming to a stop while acres of underground parking are dynamited between the Rec Trail and the Bay? The possibility that national fast food giants will continue to put their stamp on Alvarado Street, with the city council''s complicity? The same council who brusquely dismissed almost 1,200 petitions opposing Burger King?
For me personally, it was all of those, and more. From attending city council meetings, our city elders struck me as somewhat aimless, unfocused, and often downright cranky in the face of issues that confront our city today. Small wonder: After sitting in office for a total of 66 years, they''re bound to have lost most of the vision, the old passion for preserving Monterey and leading it sensitively and democratically into the 21st century.
What''s wrong with Monterey city government? Nothing that a little more democracy and a few fresh ideas can''t fix. Monterey is booming: Tourist dollars are up, the parks and streets are doing fine, and the national economic resurgence has finally arrived here.
Out of the spotlight, though, are the problems of success. Ambitious development plans and a city-government economy which has become increasingly hungry for sales tax dollars and tourist moneys: How will Monterey respond? Will the city be able to plan for the future, or simply react to new pressures with the tools of 20 or 30 years ago?
It''s not the fault of our General Plan or our neighborhood and coastal area plans; they set strong, well-defined goals for preservation and community development. But the plans are only as good as the people who implement them.
Who, then, will step up in defense of our quality of life, of our natural and built environment, of our cultural and historic heritage, of the residents'' right to participate in determining the fate of their city?
Answer: The Monterey Action Coalition.
The coalition was founded by a cross-section of long-time activists and newly concerned, newly mobilized residents who are alarmed by the way the public''s business is being conducted these days. We are a pro-active, issue-oriented organization of individuals and groups who have joined together with a common vision for Monterey.
Our goals are simple and straightforward:
Promote the needs, desires and rights of residents. Preserve and promote our historic, cultural, ethnic and environmental resources and their benefits to the community, both short and long term. Plan for today and the future by supporting adherence to and thoughtful revision of the neighborhood, general and regional plans. Inform the public through presentations to civic councils and boards, publications, public forums and respectful civic debate. Endorse and support ballot measures and candidates and promote active voter participation. Monitor Monterey City Council actions and city staff performance for government accountability.
The world is changing. Decisions made today will affect us for the next 50 years. We want the city to make those decisions with wisdom and a clear view of the horizon.
To start the dialogue with city hall and focus it on residents'' concerns, MAC has formally requested that the council place three items on their Feb.17 meeting agenda:
&bul; Take a leadership role on the Peninsula to prevent abuse of water credits and work toward water management solutions;
&bul; Place before the voters two measures for a modest transient occupancy tax increase to be dedicated to arts and historic preservation and a comprehensive local coastal protection initiative.
Won''t you join us?
Barrie Riddich is the manager of a local business who is also co-chair of Monterey Action Coalition. For information, call 648-7MAC.