Sand City Council Meeting - 10-1-19

Kristin Horowitz, co-owner of The Pad climbing gym in San Luis Obispo speaks to Sand City City Council on Oct. 1, 2019.

The mayor and city council of Sand City say that a rock climbing gym would make a great community institution, but on Oct. 1, they rejected the particular one that was being proposed.

Owners of The Pad Climbing, which runs a gym in San Luis Obispo and another in Santa Maria, submitted plans earlier this year to retrofit a warehouse at 325 Elder Ave. and open a new location. But there wasn’t much parking at the property and city staff said that the anticipated volume of visitors would exacerbate Sand City’s parking congestion problem. 

Kristin Horowitz of The Pad worked with the building’s landlord, the Cannery Row Company, to find a solution, but what they proposed at a meeting on Oct. 1—including a switch to perpendicular parking on the adjacent road—didn’t satisfy City Council.

“It all comes back to street parking,” Mayor Mary Ann Carbone said.

Following the Sand City decision, The Pad Climbing posted on Facebook, saying that the company has, for now, abandoned plans to open a gym locally.

“The project is not totally dead and buried, but now is not the time,” the post said. “We wish the community of Monterey the absolute best and if you don't receive it, we may yet be back.”

The Monterey Peninsula’s rock climbing community has been without a gym since February when Sanctuary Rock Gym was forced to close after more than two decades because the property owner wants to develop a hotel and residential project on the site, also located in Sand City. 

But quickly after the closing, Sanctuary's owners announced plans to reopen at University Plaza Shopping Center in Seaside. Together with The Pad Climbing, there were now two competing gyms being proposed. It wasn’t clear the region could support both businesses. 

Sanctuary is slated to open later this month under the new name Sanctuary Climbing and Fitness. The climbing walls have been delivered to the gym and are currently being assembled. 

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Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers higher education, the military, the environment, public lands and the geographic areas of Seaside, Monterey, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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