In Monterey California, It's Slow-Growth Advocates Versus Developers and Immigrants

What to do with an area that produces some 80 percent of the nation's lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach that lacks in housing for migrant workers? Why build more housing of course. Not so fast say "slow-growth" advocates.

Monterey County has some of the most dramatic views in the world and is home to wealthy landowners who live near the Pacific Ocean. Yet, travel inland a few miles near Salinas and one will find that 39 percent of homes have more than 1.5 people per room, as compared with 0.5 percent of all U.S. homes. According to this article, overcrowded conditions are a direct result from housing prices in Salinas that make it the least-affordable place in the country to live. The median resale price of a single-family home in Salinas was $620,000 in June 2006.

The area around Salinas produces around $3.5 billion of crops yearly. The agricultural workers in the area, most who make slightly above minimum wage, can nowhere near afford the type of house that is required to escape the overcrowded living conditions many are faced with.

One solution, says developers, farmers, and immigration advocates, is to build affordable housing for these workers. However, "slow-growth" advocates have mostly blocked this type of housing through the courts by forming LandWatch Monterey County. Critics of LandWatch contend that these people "found Utopia and don't want anything to change."

Full Story: In Tony Monterey County, Slums and a Land War



In Monterey County, There is PLENTY of Non-Prime Land!

As a native of the Monterey Peninsula, I can assure Planetizen readers of two things.

First, the NIMBY problem on the Monterey Peninsula began LONG before the 1980's; Carmel and environs were notorious for this attitude in the 1960's, and have have had grossly overpriced real estate since rich people decided they wanted to live in what orginally was a "Bohemian" enclave, e.g., starting quickly after World War II.

Second, there is a very large quantity of land suitable for affordable housing, both single and multiple units. There are several square miles of non-agricultural land in the former 30,000 acre Fort Ord. There are also many square miles of marginal land in Northern Monterey County, particularly east and northeast of Castroville. There are also many square miles around the edges of the Salinas Valley AND around the fringes of Salinas, Chualar, Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield, and King City.

The real standoff, not mentioned in the article, is over water supply. Monterey County water politics is nasty and very brutal. The agricultural interests have shown little inclination towards investment in more efficient use of their 200,000+ annual acre feet of irrigation water supply (storage of about 700,000 acre feet in Lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento, near the southern border with San Luis Obispo County.) And the NIMBYs from the Monterey Peninsula--particularly Pebble Beach, Carmel, and Carmel Valley--violently oppose development of any additional water supplies, whether from various seawater desalinsation proposals or the more effective use of existing water supplies from the upper Salinas Valley.

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