Thursday, January 23, 2003
Marina Heights Shift
Reacting to public outcry, the developers behind Marina Heights have offered to increase the percentage of affordable housing in the massive building plan on Fort Ord from 8 percent to 20 percent.
Chadmar Group development partners Charles Lande and Michael Shaw told the Weekly that they'd consulted with Marina Mayor Ila Mettee-McCutchon and decided to increase the ratio of below-market rate housing in the plan.
"She said this is a way to solve the problems," Shaw said. "After we heard the public comment we knew we'd change."
Under an agreement approved by the Marina City Council on Oct. 15, the developers would buy 248 acres of Fort Ord land for $10.6 million and build 1,050 homes. Eighty-five so called "bridge homes" priced at $255,000, comprised 8 percent of the project with the balance in a mix of market-rate homes.
The low percentage drew criticism from Marina citizens as well as Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel). In August, the city had adopted a goal to provide an aggregate 40 percent affordable housing for Marina's share of Fort Ord land.
Asked how the developers plan to produce housing now at lower cost to buyers, Lande said, "We'll make it work."
Eco-Ag Confab Features Indian Activist
The largest sustainable agriculture conference west of the Mississippi kicks off Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove. More than 1,200 organic farmers, industry reps, environmental activists, scientists and interested citizens are expected for three days of workshops, lectures, tours and "cultural events" (read: parties) focusing on the future of organic food and sustainable agriculture. This year's conference is driven by worldwide concern about genetically-modified food, as well as the impact of last year's federal organic labeling laws, and more than 50 workshops Thursday, Friday and Saturday will address issues such as alternative animal care, the healing power of herbs, the Fair Trade movement, sustainable agriculture in Cuba, biodiesel fuel, the buying practices of natural foods chain stores, and a national organic update.
Of particular interest is Saturday's 10:30am plenary session with Indian nuclear physicist, author and activist Vandana Shiva. Founder in 1982 of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in India, which works to promote biodiversity and protect indigenous people's livelihoods, Dr. Shiva also started the Navdanya movement, which helps communities preserve their native seeds. "I started Navdanya as a political act, so that farmers would have free seed in their hands," she says. "Using that free seed they would be able to resist the kind of control system that the new corporations were trying to establish in India." Registration for each half-day of the conference costs $50. For schedule and information call the Ecological Farming Association at 763-2111, or visit www.eco-farm.org.
Housing on Agenda at Town Hall Meeting
Monterey citizens are invited to a Town Hall meeting in city hall on Jan. 29 at 7:00pm to discuss general plan provisions for housing within the city.
Under California law, the city must come up with locations to build 1,302 new housing units, as designated under a regional housing allocation. With limited open space to build mixed-use structures with commercial space on the ground floor and residential units above.
One thought is to create "transit villages" that cluster housing around transportation hubs, allowing residents to commute without a car.
The areas in Monterey where housing might be located are near Cannery Row around Foam and Wave streets and Lighthouse Ave., in downtown Monterey and on North Fremont.
Seaside Adopts Housing Policy
After awarding employees for years of service to the city, resolving a dispute about the location of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and learning about seasonal dispersal of honey bee excrement, on Jan. 16 the Seaside City Council adopted a formal affordable housing policy for its share of Fort Ord land.
Under the policy, at least 20 percent of housing built on Seaside's slice of Fort Ord must be priced to be available to middle income and poor families. Forty percent of the designated 20 percent is to be available for the lowest income levels.
The policy was not without detractors. Elizabeth Panetta of LandWatch Monterey County thanked the council for taking action but urged it to take more time to study affordable housing before adopting the policy. In a Jan. 14 letter, LandWatch called for affordable housing to be available to buy, not rent.
Resistance also came from the other end of the spectrum. Nelson Vega, a Monterey resident and Seaside property owner, complained that the policy results in a subsidy borne by taxpayers."I'm concerned that in your will to do well, you might end up harming yourself," he told the council.
Concilmembers approved the policy, but meanwhile, the city's newest development already underway--Seaside Highlands--contains no provisions for affordable housing. Still, Mayor Jerry Smith said, "Seaside is 100 percent affordable. It's the cheapest place on the Peninsula to live."
Take This Law and Smoke It
The Reverend Lynnette Shaw served time for marijuana possession, and worked for "the mothership"--the original Cannabis Club in San Francisco. She helped develop Prop 215: The Medical Marijuana Initiative, and got an ordinance passed in Marin County to make enforcing marijuana laws the lowest priority when people are sick. FED-UP (the Foundation to End Drug Unfairness Policies), a small group of Monterey County residents, many of whom, like Shaw, belong to the Libertarian Party, has invited Shaw to speak Thursday in Seaside. The group's focus is on "ending the drug war" by legalizing all drugs--a point of view that Shaw shares, to a degree. Introducing Shaw will be David Hendreson, a Naval Postgraduate School economics professor and a FED-UP member, who says governments should not interfere with individual choice-including the right to buy all drugs over-the-counter."There's a problem with me overeating but I don't think the government should prevent me from doing it," he says.
"There are guys who go out and golf for 10 hours a week and then come home and watch football. That's harmful to their families. But the government isn't making that illegal."
Join FED-UP for a 6:30pm social hour followed by Shaw's speech at 7:30pm. Round Table Pizza, 1717 Fremont Blvd, Seaside. $5 donation requested, students free. Call FED-UP at 394-6470.
--Andrew Scutro, Sue Fishkoff, Brett Wilbur