Inconsistent: not staying the same throughout, not compatible or in keeping with, acting at variance with one’s own principles or former conduct.

If there’s a word that leaped out at me from the 100-plus pages of documents attached to Agenda Item No. 4 set to go before the Monterey County Planning Commission on July 10, that word is it: inconsistent.

It, or a variety of it, appears prominently in the staff report on that agenda item, in which the current ownership of the upscale Pasadera development is asking the county to change a 1995 agreement and allow it to convert 12 low-income rental units to 12 moderate-income rental units. To qualify for a low-income unit, according to the county’s inclusionary housing criteria for 2019, a two-person family would have to earn less than $57,500, and a five-member family less than $77,600. For moderate units, a two-person family would have to earn less than $65,200, and a five-member family less than $88,050.

The requested change, though, is inconsistent – there it is again – with the rules.

The 12 units in question were part of 38 total units that Pasadera was required to build as part of the approval of the Bishop Ranch (now known as the Pasadera Country Club or the Nicklaus Club-Monterey) subdivision. To comply with the county’s inclusionary housing ordinance, the developers agreed to build 26 moderate-income for-sale units, as well as the 12 low-income rentals.

According to the staff report, written by Associate Planner Joseph Sidor and with input from the county’s Economic Development and Housing Office, Pasadera wants the change because “they claim to have experienced high vacancy rates and difficulty in finding qualifying renters.” The ownership believes the location of the units results in limited access to services and facilities.

On that point, they’re not wrong. If you’re on foot, it’s a hell of a hike to make it to the main gate at Highway 68. The nearest grocery store is miles away. The for-sale moderate-income units and the low-income rentals, collectively known as “The Casitas,” sit almost on the edge of the Pasadera property, far from the Highway 68 entrance, up-up-up a hill and then down in a canyon where they’re not visible to the Pasadera residents who paid market rate. (I mean, really: Who wants to be rich enough to live in a multimillion-dollar Pasadera mansion and have to look at the working class every day?)

But that Pasadera claims it’s having trouble finding low-income residents who qualify to live there is something of a mystery. At least it was to Tyller Williamson, a Monterey City Councilmember who sits on the county’s Housing Advisory Committee. When Pasadera, represented by attorney Anthony Lombardo, first brought the proposed amendment to the county for consideration, Williamson says the committee had questions that to this date haven’t been answered.

“According to their reporting to us, only one or two units are in vacancy at any time. I don’t think we’re saying we’re not interested in hearing their request, but we asked for information about their marketing plan for those units and they never followed up,” Williamson says. “It was almost like, ‘Eh, we don’t feel like answering you,’ so we voted to decline their request.”

He describes it as a microcosm for the problems of the county: “There is great wealth here but we haven’t invested in taking care of the workforce. Perhaps this will push the business community to think of unique ways of approaching their practices, and perhaps at Pasadera they can figure out ways for the lower-income residents to get better access to services.”

The proposal does have somewhat of an unlikely advocate, with caveats attached. Alfred Diaz-Infante, president and CEO of low-income housing developer CHISPA, says he’s aware Pasadera is having trouble renting to low-income people. He believes if existing low-income tenants were allowed to remain with no change in their rent, Pasadera should be allowed some flexibility to rent out vacant units to moderate-income renters.

The Weekly goes to press before the Planning Commission meeting takes place; county staff has recommended the commission reject the amendment.


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