City Council News

October, 2013

Bill Kampe photoHarbor Seals and Pebble Beach Area D

We are now set to enact an ordinance to better protect the harbor seals on our beaches, and also to protect Lovers Point Beach.  The ordinance is written to apply best practices consistent with federal and state law, and also in coordination with the Coastal Commission, NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary, and our marvelous BayNet volunteers who have dedicated so many hours to help protect and interpret the natural resources of our shoreline.

 

We will also be hearing public and staff inputs on a new Pebble Beach project proposals that would be directly adjacent to Del Monte Park neighbors.  Our goal is to understand the situation and take whatever city action may be appropriate at this stage of the project, recognizing that we are not the decision makers -- the county is -- for this project.  Still, we can identify impacts where we should have a voice as a city.

Water

The Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority has participated very successfully in negotiations with both CalAm and the PUC to set 8 conditions for the CalAm regional water project.  This vital project still faces many hurdles.  Still, the unified voice of  our peninsula via "the Mayor's JPA" has helped advance the project while  providing important protections for the public on the future cost of water.

CalPERS and Pension Liabilities

It is very clear that the state legislature will not take further action on  pensions.  We also see the courts continuing to reinforce entitlements that we believe to be unsustainable.  We face an increase of 50% in pension costs over the next several years.

As a result, we are working on several fronts to better manage our retirement benefit costs.  Within the existing law, we are now negotiating with our public safety unions to find ways to reduce those overall costs.  We are also examining CalPERS policies and practices to learn what flexibility we may have to reduce costs based on how we may structure future employee contracts.

Cities throughout California, and the financial and legal experts that advise them, point out that there is little cities can do locally.  As a result, we are reaching out to find alliances that may help drive fundamental change at the state level, either through legislation or the initiative process.

Business Vitality

Commercial activities produce fees and taxes that fund nearly 60% or our city budget.  A healthy business climate is vital to maintaining the quality of life and the level of services that our residents desire.  Further, over 35% of our general fund budget comes from visitors to our city, both the nearby shoppers and the vacationers from farther away.

One of the completed actions is the update to our commercial zoning code.  We have removed the excessive obstacles to starting a business in Pacific Grove.  Next in line is an update to our sign code.  Business signage  approvals should not cause a delay in opening a business, and new code language has been drafted for council action next month.

We now have an Economic Development Manager on a part time basis. He has joined with PG resident Bob Sadler to lead a small group of business and  property owners to explore new possibilities.  The result of that group is a remarkable agreement on both short and long term measures for improving business vitality.  The first of the short term measures are underway, including a parking time limit adjustment for our downtown over the holidays.  Longer term, there is recognition that we need to make, and can make, changes to our basic streetscape downtown.

City Infrastructure

Our city buildings, streets, sidewalks, and lighting need ongoing maintainance.  You  may have seen some selective road repair to key intersections such as Pine and Forest, also Eardley and Lighthouse.  Prior to the wet season, we will also repeat the crack sealing process.  Not always pretty, but greatly slows the decay of the road foundations.

 

Please contact me at bill@billkampe.org if you have comments on any of these topics.

A Closing Thought

I believe the desire for a positive spirit is strong in PG.  I believe that we can find ways to work together.  I believe we can create the future we desire for ourselves and for our city. Yes we can!

Bill Kampe