PARADISE LOST… Squid is a fan of many musical genres, but recently, the opening line of a certain classic rock tune, “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell, has been playing on repeat in Squid’s head: “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot.”

This is because, on Thursday, Jan. 6, the Seaside City Council will consider buying – for just under $1.1 million! – a less-than-half-acre plot on the corner of Broadway Avenue and Del Monte Boulevard that used to be a car dealership lot to… turn it into a parking lot. Per the city’s report on the proposed acquisition, that would be “much needed” parking.

Sure, paradise, in this instance, has long been paved over, but spending $1.1 million of Seaside taxpayer money to buy a postage stamp-sized parking lot? Last Squid checked, parking was not at the top of the list of the challenges facing Seaside, or its downtown. (Like, perhaps City Council should focus on facilitating more housing instead of passing ordinances to try to make it more difficult?)

Nonetheless, Squid has little doubt the council will waver from the purchase, despite the fact smart development in the year 2022 suggests we should be trying to get people out of cars, not into them.

But auto-centric development is 100 percent on-brand for the city – that’s how Seaside rolls.

WRITE IN… Squid loves few things more than diving into documents, and happily took the plunge into a fat pile of correspondence the Local Agency Formation Commission of Monterey County received regarding its controversial vote to block MPWMD from pursuing a public buyout of Cal Am. The final vote was set to take place on Wednesday, Jan. 5, after Squid’s deadline, but the letters LAFCO received between Dec. 23 and Jan. 4 totaled a whopping 257 pages.

That seemed like a lot, but then Squid started seeing repeats – form letters, apparently copied and pasted, with suggested language. There was a big batch of pro-buyout letters with identical phrasing (“LAFCO decisions should remain focused on its duties instead of ‘what if scenarios’”). Squid also caught wind of another form letter circulating, this one digging into one of those what-if scenarios: What if Cal Am, without its economy of scale, attempts to raise rates on its 178 connections in Chualar?

A what-if indeed – Cal Am would have to go to the California Public Utilities Commission with a special appeal, given that rates in Chualar, a disadvantaged community, are locked in. But that did not stop Cal Am from helping craft a form letter for Chualar residents, claiming “the CPUC would change water rates in our community.”

It was an attempt at distortion, but a failed one – Squid saw no copies in that 257-page pile, just one circulating elsewhere, signed, “Sincerely, Name.”

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