The Easy Plan
Monterey adopts 20-year growth document with little trouble.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Unlike Monterey County, whose general plan update has been a tragicomic soap opera without finale, the city of Monterey adopted its own general plan with little fanfare at a regular meeting on January 4.
The product of three years worth of regular planning and discussion by a committee of citizens, city staff, and appointed officials, the Monterey General Plan will be used to guide development decisions for the city for the next 20 years. The new version revises a plan first adopted in 1983.
After more than 40 public meetings to create the new 135-page General Plan, there are only minor tweaks. A final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was also certified at the meeting, after several local critics raised points in the draft EIR.
Kim Cole, senior planner for the city’s community development department, says there were two main issues in the development of the new general plan. One is the division of the city into four main “mixed-use villages.” Designated to hold future growth are downtown, the area east of downtown, Cannery Row/Lighthouse Avenue, and North Fremont Street.
“The idea is to concentrate development in these areas, versus, for example, to develop out along Highway 68,” she says.
Cole says there was some resistance from neighborhood groups against putting mixed-use development—for example, commercial space topped by residential space—along North Fremont. To ameliorate concerns, resident-owned apartments as opposed to rentals (in mixed-use development on North Fremont) will be encouraged, Cole says.
The other major piece of the general plan that occupied the committee was the Lighthouse Avenue corridor. Already a busy commercial area and traffic link to Pacific Grove, Lighthouse began to get snarled in 2001 when the gates of the Presidio were closed to through traffic because of terrorism security. Several options for untangling Lighthouse were explored by the committee, but an idea to send three lanes of traffic in one direction down the street and move opposing traffic to Foam and Hawthorne was quickly dismissed.
Still, improving the Lighthouse traffic situation “is a serious goal in the next 20 years and even in the near term,” Cole says.
“Overall, the city of Monterey is a well-organized, well-planned city. That’s my personal opinion,” says Melissa Hlebasko-Broadston, a citizen who served on the committee representing the League of Women Voters.
When she started on the committee, Hlebasko-Broadston lived in the Oak Knoll neighborhood, where the community focuses on North Fremont. She has since moved to the neighborhood above the Del Monte Center and her priorities have shifted. She says, “Now I care about storm water run-off in my yard.”