Thursday, October 20, 2011
MEASURE S: Renew the Existing Del Rey Oaks 1-Percent Transactions and Use Tax
The half-square-mile city of Del Rey Oaks doesn’t have a whole lot of horns to toot, so we can forgive city officials for advertising “a world-class Safeway” on the DRO website.
It’s that busy Safeway, and the Stone Creek Village Shopping Center, that bring in a hefty chunk of the city’s sales tax revenue (excepting tax-free groceries), and it makes sense to milk them. Ninety percent of the tax is paid by non-residents, according to city staff, who say the annual $300,000 is needed to offset reduced property tax revenue and state takeaways.
Extending the 1-percent sales tax hike for up to five more years is a smart move by residents.
MEASURE U: Amend Pacific Grove Municipal Code to Allow More Motel Rooms and Ease Guest Unit Restrictions
Measure U is a ballot initiative that will allow motel owners in Pacific Grove to remodel existing rooms and add up to 79 new units in the lodging corridor on the west end of town between Lighthouse Avenue and Asilomar Conference Center.
It is a rare breed amongst ballot measures, as it was drafted by hospitality interests and city planners with input from the group that originally put the limits on motel expansions in 1986. The measure will allow motel operators to remodel rooms without threat of decreasing their number, and will better bring the guest experience in line with the average room rate.
The sense from our perch is that it will make the accommodations in Pacific Grove better for visitors and will in turn lead to increased transient occupancy tax.
MEASURE V: Extend and Increase Pacific Grove Unified School District Parcel Tax
Measure V is a $60 annual tax on all parcels within the school district. This school improvement bond will replace an existing $35 annual parcel tax that is currently assessed but due to sunset in 2013.
Measure V will raise approximately $450,000 per year that will fund only student programs and services. Knowing people whose kids are enrolled in PGUSD, we have become convinced that this modest tax is both vital and valuable: The funds will keep class sizes small; allow enrichment programs in science, math, computers, art and music to continue; and fund teacher and aide positions. The money will not be spent on district administrators or facilities.
Like all bond initiatives, Measure V will require a two-thirds majority to pass. Five dollars a month seems like a modest investment that has the potential return of keeping the P.G. School district at its high-performing level. We encourage voters to support Measure V.
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board
Division 4: Regina Doyle
Division 5: Bob Brower
Peninsula water board incumbents Doyle and Brower have been on opposing ends of a lot of close votes throughout their first terms. Most notably, Brower voted to sign on to the Regional Desal Project agreements when they were first released in spring 2010, but a last-minute flip-flop by Doyle swung the board against it.
That vote reflects a tension between MPWMD and the three Regional Project partners that’s still playing out today. Cal Am’s Peninsula ratepayers are understandably upset that they have no governing voice in the Regional Project they’re paying for; MPWMD, as ratepayers’ only elected representative in the water world, should be that voice.
(The history is archived at www.mcweekly.com/desal.)
As the Regional Project falters, MPWMD’s five alternative water supply projects – including aquifer storage, wastewater recycling and a small desal plant in Monterey – are gaining attention and weight. The current board should be commended for developing this broad-based Plan B even when it looked like the Regional Project was a shoe-in. Now that the $400 million desal project is on the brink of collapse, we should be grateful for MPWMD’s leadership in creating a more democratic and financially viable path forward in the face of drastic state – and court-ordered cutbacks in Carmel River and Seaside Aquifer pumping.
Brower (the business-interest candidate) and Doyle (the slow-growth candidate) may take different stances on development, but they’re on the same page in their support for common-sense solutions to the Peninsula’s water-supply crisis. Challengers Scott Dick and Jeanne Byrne, respectively, don’t seem committed to moving MPWMD’s water-supply alternatives forward. Brower and Doyle deserve to keep their seats and stay the course toward a workable new water supply.