As Goes California, So Goes Monterey, A New Way of Walking, Presidio Sirens to Blare
Thursday, January 10, 2002
With the State of California facing a budget deficit of $12 billion, the City of Monterey, for one, is making no bones about its similarly poor financial health in 2002.
During his State of the State speech on Tuesday Jan. 8, Gov. Gray Davis spoke at length on the Sept. 11 attacks-using the event to explain fiscal troubles expected in his budget.
In Monterey the connection between terrorism and sickly government budgets has been clear.
With more than half the city''s general fund revenue dependent on tourist dollars, the Peninsula''s biggest city saw visitor numbers drop dramatically after the attacks. The city is counting on a shortfall of $1.7million for this fiscal year, and city manager Fred Meurer has been giving ample, if cautious, warning. In addition to bringing up the issue at a recent city council meeting, he this week broadcast a bulletin explaining the budget problems to local decision-makers and media.
At the Jan. 2 city council meeting, Meurer was explicit that it''s a time for concern but not panic. "We do not have a budget crisis," he said reassuringly.
Putting an optimistic spin on bad news, Meurer looked to the situation as an opportunity to fix problems and inefficiencies before they become worse.
"Our objective is to plan and not react," he told the council. With that he noted that if budgetary goals are not met by summer 2003, staff positions in city government could be cut.
In the bulletin released on Jan. 7, he wrote that the current problems could be solved by "using budget savings and unanticipated revenues" as well as delaying some capital improvement projects. The ongoing Sports Center expansion will not be interrupted, but Meurer predicts city parks and infrastructure could suffer if revenue doesn''t return to its previous levels.
Next year, he expects to balance the budget using hiring freezes, departmental restructuring and "use of special reserves."
A New Way of Walking
"New urbanism" and "walkable communities" promise to be the buzz words of 2002, and anyone wishing to find out what they mean can hit the ground walking on Jan. 17.
The public workshop on Designing Walkable Neighborhoods consists of three sessions, morning, afternoon and evening. Each includes presentations by national experts Dan Burden and Shelley Poticha.
The sessions also include walking audits of locations in downtown Salinas and various redevelopment sites, and will be on the lookout for all the components of a walkable community: mixed-use development, such as apartments and condos next-door to single family homes and down the street from mass-transit lines and parks.
"This is very relevant to the general plan updates being developed in Monterey County and a few cities throughout the region, including Salinas," says Kristi Kimball of the Surface Transportation Policy Project, one of the sponsors of the event (along with AMBAG and the City of Salinas). "We hope this will provide community members with new ideas about how walkable, mixed-use development can help accommodate new growth while still protecting open space and preserving the regions natural treasures."
The workshop is free. Free child care and Spanish-language translation will be provided. For more information or to register for the workshop, visit www.ci.salinas.ca.us, or call Kristi Kimball, 415-956-7835, or Ben Berto, 758-7206.
Presidio Sirens to Blare
Monterey residents who live in the neighborhood of the Presidio, who are accustomed to being roused every morning by reveille and tucked in at night by taps broadcast over loudspeakers, will get an earful at 11am on Jan. 19.
For the second time this year, the base will test its Installation Emergency Notification System. It''s a new device and it''s been run once before but only for practice. The sound is that of a siren, which will blare for about 20 seconds. The alert will be followed by a voice message. In this case the planned message will advise that the siren was only a test. In the event of an emergency, information would follow the siren blasts.
According to Sgt. Mitch Frazier, a public affairs specialist at the Presidio, the siren was installed last year in order to provide warning before the anticipated rolling blackouts. It will be used for everything from a national emergency to earthquakes and weather alerts.
However, in the same way that the radio''s Emergency Broadcast System was not activated over public airwaves on Sept. 11, neither was the Presidio''s new siren system.
Regarding Sept.11, Frazier says rather than blare information across the base while soldiers prepared for morning classes, unit commanders got phone calls at home. Life went on as normal at the Presidio during the attacks even though the Pentagon was on fire, through things changed rapidly within the day.
Although the Presidio has had a public address system for years, this is the first time it''s been used to disseminate information. "Prior to this system, all we could do was music," Frazier says.