On December 2, 2010, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the MCHA-supported Regional Water Project (RWP). The RWP is to be built and be on line in 2015. The hope of that is dimming.
The agencies in the RWP (Monterey County/Marina Coast Water District/Monterey County) were reexamining the agreements and mediation is occurring in private, as is necessary for a mediation process to be successful, but indications were that there was some progress. However on January 17th, Cal Am announced they were withdrawing from that agreement. Cal Am was very clear that they are committed to developing a water supply project for to meet the needs of the Peninsula and meet the State’s Cease and Desist Order.
The courts have dealt a blow to the RWP. In December Judge Villareal indicated it was her intention to rule in favor of the Ag Land Trust and find that the EIR for the RWP should have been prepared and certified by the MCWD rather than the PUC. The final decision has not been released. Once it is released parties in the RWP will decide if the decision will be appealed or if MCWD will reprocess the EIR. Regardless of that decision the RWP will be further delayed and hundreds of thousands of dollars cost will be added.
The mayors of Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Seaside, Del Rey Oaks and Sand City have begun the process through their respective City Councils to form a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to address the water issues. According to the JPA documents, the JPA would have broad ability to do everything from building a water project to being a unified public voice in the review of water projects proposed by others. There are many questions yet to be answered about the JPA, how it would actually work and its ability to either build a project or influence other projects. But at least the mayors now seem to be fully engaged in working together toward a water supply solution.
The California Coastal Commission continued its August hearing on the RWP’s test slant wells. It has been rumored that the CCC will hear the request again in the February, but that is unconfirmed.
Alternative projects, everything from increasing dam storage on the Carmel River to other desalination plants, continue to be proposed by the MPWMD and by private parties. While alternatives should be examined as a means of supplementing the Peninsula’s water supply, none of the alternatives have been fully evaluated or evaluated or approved. None of the alternatives can be in place in time to avoid the dire impact of the State’s Cease and Desist Order to Cal Am to dramatically reduce their pumping of the Carmel River by January 2016.
MCHA will continue to monitor and actively participate in the water issue to assure as best we can an adequate water supply for the Peninsula.
Coalition of Peninsula Businesses
To bolster MCHA’s and the Peninsula’s efforts to assure a water project is
built on time MCHA led the formation of what was known as the MCHA
Coalition of Peninsula Businesses. It was important to emphasize that
resolution of the water issues was not just a hospitality issue so the
Coalition changed its name to simply the Coalition of Peninsula
Businesses. The Coalition’s name may have changed but its mission did not.
The Coalition’s mission is to work to help meet the Peninsula’s water
challenge and comply with the CDO at a reasonable cost. The Coalition has
The Coalition includes MCHA, Monterey Commercial Property Owners Association (MCPOA), Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Carmel Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce, Monterey County Association of Realtors and CHOMP.
Despite these hurdles previously discussed and the many difficult decisions yet to be made we cannot lose sight of the need for a RWP to be built and on-line before the CDO takes effect. MCHA and the Coalition will continue to work diligently to move a RWP forward.
Regional Taxi Authority
MCHA led the effort to establish a Regional Taxi Authority (RTA) to improve taxi services on the Peninsula and throughout the County. The RTA became “official” in August 2010 and started its work shortly thereafter. The RTA started issuing interim operating permits in March 2011. As of January 1, 2012 every cab company operating in the County is to be licensed by the RTA.
Through November 2011, the RTA issued 36 driver regional permits, 24 vehicle regional permits and 7 company regional permits that are valid throughout Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Sand City, Seaside and unincorporated Monterey County. With the new permitting location at the Monterey Police Department now open, the RTA is able to issue regional driver/vehicle permits at approximately 30% less cost than last year.
The following cab dispatching companies are permitted or are “in-process” and are considered in compliance with RTA regulations at the current time:
On January 23rd, the RTA Board adopted ordinance for the enforcement of its regulations. RTA staff now has the authority to cite violations of the RTA regulations and order corrections. Those citations could include penalties and fines, including loss of operating licenses, if the violations are not corrected in a timely manner. The operators, if they feel they have been incorrectly cited, will have an opportunity to present their case to a hearing panel appointed by the RTA Board and ultimately be heard by the RTA Board itself.
The RTA has completed a very successful first year. MCHA’s original intent in advocating for an RTA and working diligently on its formation was to open the market to allow competition, clean-up the cabs, provide better service, and provide uniform regulations for operators. Much of that has has been accomplished. Further taxi service improvements such as ADA service, senior script program in cities that participate financially and expanded pick up options at the airport and in the City of Monterey are in the offing.
The RTA Board has been very clear in its support of increasing competition. Increased competition among companies will lead to better service for the people we serve.
Master Plans for Downtown Monterey and the Waterfront.
The City of Monterey is moving forward on its update of the Downtown and Waterfront Master Plans. The goal of the Master Plans will be to improve the “downtown and water front experience,” improve the business environment and generally make downtown a destination for residents and visitors alike. The planning work is continuing and is expected to be the subject of public meetings early in 2012.
An integral part of both plans is parking and circulation. The Planning Commission held three days of public meetings on parking and circulation issues for North Fremont, Lighthouse Avenue, the Waterfront and downtown Monterey. The Planning Commission forwarded the City Council a series of recommendations which were accepted by the Council and are being incorporated into the Master Plan work and environmental review.
MCHA will continue to monitor and participate in this process.
Conference Center Revitalization
The City of Monterey continues to move forward on a major revitalization effort for the conference center. A preliminary design option was recently selected that will result in a major internal reconfiguration and façade improvements that will greatly increase the Conference Center’s ability to accommodate more and larger events at the same time. Much design work is yet to be done. The preliminary estimate of the cost of the improvements is 30 million dollars. The City is currently reviewing funding alternatives to pay for the improvements.
Highway 156 Update
Plans for the improvement of 156 continue to move forward. In the most recent plan, a four-lane highway can be built including realignment of the Highway 156-Highway 101 interchange for around $100 million. The environmental work for the new plan should be complete in 2012, so if funding can be found the widening can move forward. MCHA will continue to its focus efforts on the 156 bypass. There is about $36 million available for design and right of way acquisition. About $60 million is needed for actual construction.
TAMC is currently considering the idea of making 156 a toll road for travelers who are not local residents. A recent preliminary study on the creation of a toll road found that it concept is viable, but much more of detailed review is needed. If the toll road concept is ultimately not found to be acceptable other alternatives will need to be found.
MPWMD Election Success
In November MCHA supported candidates Bob Brower and Jeanne Byrne were elected to the MPWMD Board. Bob Brower was reelected in a very close contest. Jeanne Byrne unseated the incumbent, Regina Doyle, by a significant margin. This shows that by working together as an industry to support candidates who are fair and balanced, MCHA can influence the outcome of local elections.
Get Involved, Stay Involved
The Government Affairs Committee tracks issues that are critical to the near and long-term viability and vitality of our businesses and our communities. MCHA and works hard to assure that policies implemented at the local level are consistent with that goal. Plan to attend a Government Affairs meeting and learn how you can be influence issues vital to our industry, business and community.
THE GAC meets the first Thursday of each month at 8:30 am at Intercontinental The Clement on Cannery Row. Occasionally the meeting is rescheduled to a different Thursday or a different location to avoid conflicts, so contact Government Affairs Director Dale Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-596-4210) or MCHA Presidenta/CEO Bonnie Adams (email@example.com or 626-8636) to be sure of the next meeting date and location (or check the MCHA website, where meeting notices and agendas are posted: http://www.mcha.net ).
©2012 MCHA • P.O. Box 223542 • Carmel, California 93922 • Phone 831-626-8636 • Fax 831-626-4269 • firstname.lastname@example.org