WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FOR MONTERY'S WATERFRONT?
The City of Monterey does not have a certified Local Coastal Plan as required by the 1976 Coastal Act. Nor does it have a certified Implementation Plan for coastal development as required by the Coastal Act. The City does have a General Plan and several Local Coastal Land Use Plans that promise to protect and restore coastal access, coastal views, and coastal related recreation. But in recent times they have ignored these fine plans and are choosing to let the developers drive coastal development as they see fit.
City Hall also has a history of "interpreting" its plans and policies to "fit the situation."
City Hall says it requires developers to provide access to the shoreline. But in fact these are pictures of development the City allowed along the waterfront. The view from the street is gone or severely restricted and public access to the beach is only possible at lower tides.
Does this look like a point at which the public is welcomed and can gain access to the shore line? In fact when two Planning Commissioners attempted to use the public space, they were told to leave the area. After much negotiation, there is a small sign indicating that this is a public access point. But when the hotel is having an event the public is barred from the "public" plaza.
In the picture in the previous paragraph there is a sign advising the public that the plaza is open to the public. But the public is unlikely to see or understand the sign. Does the picture on the right look like an invitation to a public space? The little access sign can be seen in the larger version of the picture located on the side of the planter near the sidewalk.
Just a few steps along the street from the "public plaza" entrance is this "inviting" scene. The blue and white sign in the foreground announces a "Coastal Overview." Once you find your way through the parked cars (private parking only) you find the "overview" on the right. Another sign announces Plaza Open to the Public – Coastal Access Available," only at very low tides or from the deck under the hotel. Does this look like a great place to go for a picnic or to get you feet wet on the sandy shore? IF the tide is way out, and if you can find a parking place you may find a tiny patch of sand under the hotel on the right - that's right, under the hotel - no sun there :>( and the City is "proud" of this "public access" at "no cost" to the residents - you get what you pay for :>)
City Hall says they are preserving views by requiring "view cones." The view on the left is from street level on Cannery Row between the Plaza Hotel and an old cannery building. From the recreation trail or farther away there is no view at all. This is another shoreline access point. But as you can see on the right, the shoreline is under the hotel and only useable by those that are ready to get wet.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Cannery Row on its list of Eleven Most Endangered Places in 1998. Despite plans to protect and preserve the historic character and places on Cannery Row, the City of Monterey is promoting commercial development along the Row and has failed to complete and adopt its own plan to survey and protect the historic resources along the row.
We have lost much of the history that visitors come to see. The most recent lost was the San Xavier warehouse. Stohans (the blue building in the picture on the left (once a fish reduction plant) remains standing but is in grave danger of being destroyed by the developer who owns the land in the picture. For more on what is happening along Cannery Row click on of the Current Projects.
City Hall is in the planning process for the redevelopment of the Catellus site. Will this public property, including Wharf 2 and the Window On The Bay remain in public use? Or, as City Hall proposed at one point, will they be covered with T-shirt shops, Golf Museums, or tourist trains for private profit?
If we are to maintain and improve Waterfront access, views, and its connection with history the residents will have to continue their advocacy activities!