Monday, February 4, 2008
Seaside, Pacific Grove, and their taxes
Seaside wants us to approve a one-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for city services. That would give us the highest sales tax rate on the peninsula, at 8.25%, beating out Sand City's 7.75%. Add in the proposal for a half-cent increase to pay for county roads, and the sales tax in Seaside would be 8.75%, which would be obscene.
So I'm voting against Measure R. As a Seaside resident we need better city services to be sure. But the city hasn't been doing enough to create the kind of economic development which would bring in tax revenue without raising taxes.
Seaside has been trying to develop Broadway as a new "downtown" business district. It's a great vision, but so far the execution has hardly been inspiring. Take the beautiful new shopping plaza on Fremont and Broadway. That was supposed to be the catalyst for more development in the area. But that site needs an anchor type retailer that will draw customers from all over the peninsula, which would in turn attract more stores to the neighborhood. Something big like a department store, JC Penney, perhaps, or maybe a Barnes & Noble bookstore, to compete with the Borders monopoly on the peninsula.
Instead they gave us another Starbucks and a Kinkos.
The city of Seaside is simply setting its sights too low, and trying to raise taxes to compensate for our leaders' lack of vision.
Pacific Grove is doing the same thing. Voters there rejected a tax increase last fall. Downtown PG is likewise suffering from a lack of vision. They, too, need a strong anchor store to bring in people from all over the peninsula. The building they need is right in their midst. It once housed Holman's Department Store, which was once comparable in size and prestige to Monterey's Macy's.
But the upper half of the Holman building has been empty for a decade while the rest of it is occupied by an antique mall, which attracts only a few specialty shoppers. There have been proposals to convert the building into a hotel or condominiums, but they don't seem to want to try to attract a major retailer back to the "last hometown."
And since the PG city council couldn't sell a tax increase, they're talking about ridiculous schemes to put parking meters along the shoreline, cutting services, and so forth. All because they don't seem to have the ability to attract retailers into their retail district.
Posted at 1:35 AM