Moe Ammar is well known in Pacific Grove for his 30 years leading the Chamber of Commerce, and while he’s all about business, he’s also a resident with two generations of family living under one roof. Three years ago he got on the city’s water wait list hoping to expand his home, and on Aug. 8, he became the first resident to purchase an entitlement of 0.058 acre-feet of water for $10,150.
“I’m so happy, you have no idea,” Ammar says. He expects to break ground soon to build an 800-square-foot accessory dwelling unit in the backyard, for his son and daughter-in-law.
Two more sales to property owners followed in August, one to add a bathroom, and another to build a kitchen to turn a downtown space into a mixed-use building with residences.
The sales are thanks to a wastewater reclamation plant the city built in 2017, to irrigate with non-potable water and in turn use the savings elsewhere within the city, despite a 2009 cease-and-desist order that means no new water meters on the Monterey Peninsula.
The State Water Resources Control Board approved 47.88 acre-feet for sale with conditions, and on May 15, the Pacific Grove City Council voted to sell entitlements for $250,000 per acre-foot, with a 30-percent reduction in price through 2020. (The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is holding back a portion of the gross total of 66 acre-feet toward compliance with the state cease-and-desist order on overpumping the Carmel River.)
Ammar says the sales will build revenue for the city, not only through the sale of water, but through new development that will bring in additional tax revenue.
“What the city is doing is (creating) economic development for the next six or seven years,” he says.