Monterey Bay Economic Partnership’s Housing Program
We’re happy to say that there’s a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes in the Monterey Bay region. Efforts include addressing both the lack of housing—affordable housing in particular—and developing strategies to reduce related carbon emissions that lead to climate change. That’s why we’re presenting a series of blogs that shine light on some of the organizations that are making good things happen throughout our region. And to spread the word on ways you can join in and support these efforts and be part of the solution.
The second in our blog series showcases Monterey Bay Economic Partnership’s (MBEP) Housing Program. Program Manager Matt Huerta oversees a team of three who are engaged in a tri-county (Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties) initiative that focuses on activation, advocacy and support of projects and policies that align with their mission. The mission of the initiative is to create a greater supply of high-quality and affordable housing concentrated in areas near transportation hubs and job centers. This achieves a dual purpose of increasing the housing supply and lowering carbon emissions from long commutes in single-occupancy vehicles.
MBEP tracks bigger housing projects and policies in the three counties and lends support to turn plans into reality. Their endorsement process involves conducting a pro and con analysis, engaging with local stakeholders, including resident leaders, business leaders, local government staff and elected officials. Once the analysis and engagement are complete, they obtain the approval of their Board Executive Committee.
A recent example is the re-zone of the commercial and industrial area adjacent to the Monterey Regional Airport on Garden Road to allow for up to 405 residential units. They worked with the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, faith-based leaders, United Way of Monterey County, Landwatch, Monterey Peninsula Renters United and City of Monterey staff to build more awareness of the opportunity and encourage stakeholders to show up at meetings. They also worked directly with the Monterey Regional Airport whose leadership openly and actively opposed the proposal. The developer was able to make several modifications to his proposal to increase safety and reduce impacts to and from the Airport. The proposal received a split 3 to 3 vote at the Planning Commission and was automatically appealed to the City Council in June. City Council officials voted 4 to 1 to approve the change and usher in new homes over the next few years.
- Increase the housing supply.
- Increase homeownership.
- Support adequate funding.
- Improve the political environment.
Once endorsed, MBEP support may include:
- Activating advocacy tools such as campaigns, petitions and letters as well as social media in support of a policy.
- Working with grassroots groups, business leaders and other stakeholders to increase participation and support.
- Attending public hearings and other meetings as time allows.