MONTEREY – From Fort Ord to Fort Hunter Liggett, military installations are familiar and treasured neighbors on the Central Coast. Each year, they represent thousands of jobs and millions of dollars employed locally, while capitalizing on the regional resources needed for their own businesses.
Mutually beneficial, coordination between community and military interests is ideal for both sides to thrive, they argue, teetering on either side when concerns are not aligned. To avoid disjunction, relevant stakeholders are now working in tandem to strengthen ties – and they are seeking community input on how best to guide behavior going forward.
This week, the City of Monterey invites the public to participate in a pair of virtual planning sessions where attendees will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the ongoing Monterey Regional Compatibility Use Study. Developed in conjunction with a group of local, state and federal partners, the project is an assessment of how military and civilian needs are currently incoherent and what can be done to resolve friction.
“It’s really a community-based fact-finding mission to try to collaboratively identify issues and potential future (solution) strategies,” said Kim Cole, director of Monterey’s planning department.
The study – dubbed “Strong Communities, Strong Foundations” – was prepared under contract to the City of Monterey with financial support from the Department of Defense’s local Defense Community Cooperation Office, which provides technical and financial support to residential areas. The office prepares local communities to effectively host military operations and infrastructure, particularly as defense needs evolve.
After initial encouragement from installation partners, Cole said the city applied for a grant from the local Defense Community Cooperation Office to support a compatibility study. Funded at around $750,000 over two years, management of the project was outsourced to consulting firm Matrix Design Group, while the city matched staff time contributions, Cole said.
Developed over the past two years, the 352-page study began by interviewing 80 stakeholders representing 15 participating organizations, including: the cities of Monterey, Del Rey Oak, King City, Marina, Pacific Grove, Paso Robles and Seaside; Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties; facility; local, state, and federal agencies and organizations; and the Ministry of Defence. The progress of the study has also been guided by a series of stakeholder working groups, which have met regularly on the subject since April 2021.
Working group meetings continue this week. And with a draft public review of the Monterey Regional Compatibility Utilization Study now posted online, the meetings — scheduled for Monday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. — are a chance for community members to s involved before the publication of the final study in December. .
Looking at Monterey County and then some, the study area extends from Marina to San Luis Obispo County. With a large area to assess, the scope of the project is divided into two areas of focus: North County and South County.
North County includes the towns of Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Seaside. In terms of facilities, it covers the Presidio of Monterey, Fort Ord Military Community, Monterey Naval Support Activity, and Seaside Defense Workforce Data Center.
The South County study examines the relationship between the cities of King City and Paso Robles and military operations at Fort Hunter Liggett and Camp Roberts, which extends into San Luis Obispo County.
Monday’s meeting focuses on findings from North County, while Wednesday’s meeting will focus attention on results from South County.
Essentially a list of recommendations, the regional study is not an adopted plan. Rather, it offers basic information to guide action down the road.
The study’s public review draft can be read in full at https://montereyregionalcus.com/images/docs/mrcus_public_draft_20221012.pdf. Documents related to the study, including public meeting documents, backgrounders, draft reports and maps, are posted on the Resources page of the Monterey Regional CUS website, https://montereyregionalcus. com/resources.html.
Wednesday’s study session will begin at 5 p.m. and can be accessed at https://monterey-org.zoomgov.com/j/1612868509.