LandWatch has supported numerous projects that include affordable housing.  Monterey County has had opportunities to incorporate affordable housing for those with incomes below the area average. There are two ways to accomplish affordable units: require their construction or take in-lieu fees for a future project. LandWatch supports actual construction because it delivers affordable units within a specified time, instead of stockpiling in-lieu fees and possibly never constructing them.

There are several housing-related topics we are tracking. The first is affordable housing covered on this page. The second is employer-sponsored housing.

Project Tracking

Below are the data we maintain on residential, hotel, and other non-residential entitled (approved) or proposed developments that are not yet built in Monterey County’s 12 cities and unincorporated area. (Feedback, corrections welcomed). As you can see in the Monterey County Housing Pipeline, there is no shortage of single family homes, with ~21,000 entitled but unbuilt houses (mostly single family), and ~13,000 more proposed. There is, however, a dire shortage of multifamily rentals, the costs (rents) of which align much more closely with median incomes in the County (~$75,000) than the costs (mortgages) of single family homes.

Policy Papers

In Spring 2022, LandWatch developed a DRAFT Housing Policy Paper (879K PDF) because of the 6th cycle for the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). The main constraint to building housing locally is the availability of suitable land for urban development. Avoiding sprawl means building in already developed areas.

There are core principles that guide the recommendations in the draft document. These include:

  • Provide adequate zoning density and appropriate development standards to support RHNA allocations and minimize sprawl and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Remove or mitigate governmental constraints to housing production
  • Limit annexations to sites needed in the current cycle
  • Integrate affordable housing into high opportunity areas
  • Invest in lower resource communities
  • Support incentives that create affordable (sub-market-rate) housing concurrent with market-rate housing
  • For below-market-rate housing, support effective housing subsidies and discourage ineffective ones

Supported Projects

These are the housing projects that LandWatch has supported:

  • Spreckels
    • Spreckels Crossing (Tanimura & Antle)
  • Salinas Valley
    • Boronda Villas (Nunes, Hibino & Rodriguez families)
    • Harvest Moon Project (A conglomerate of agri-businesses)
    • Salinas Central Area Plan (Salinas Housing Justice Coalition and Stone Bridge developers)
  • Pebble Beach
    • Morse Place Townhouses (Pebble Beach Company)
  • Greenfield
    • Greenfield Commons
    • Walnut & 3rd Apartments (Avila Construction of farmworker housing)
  • Monterey
    • Downtown Specific Plan Density Cap Overlay
    • 2200 N. Fremont Street Project
    • Garden Road rezone
  • Pacific Grove
    • Grand Avenue
  • Carmel
    • Short-term rental ban
  • Seaside
    • South of Tioga

Research Projects

  • LandWatch Launches Affordable Housing Research
    Housing policy and the provision of affordable housing have been among LandWatch’s top priorities since our founding in 1997. Last year we began to collect data on housing in Monterey County in order to better understand what we can do to address the critical shortage of affordable and workforce housing. View the data. (05.25.17)
  • Supply and Support of Affordable Housing Projects
    In examining housing prices, supply is clearly an issue. But so is demand. What drives demand for housing in Monterey County? Jobs, second (vacation) homes, investment homes, and other market forces. LandWatch supported the construction of several affordable housing projects, including: Pebble BeachTanimura & Antle, and Salinas Inclusionary Housing. (05.25.17)

Short-Term & Vacation Rental Policy

  • Report: Grand Jury Findings on Short Term/Vacation Rentals (374K PDF)
    Vacation rentals have long been a concern in the region and the County has struggled to create an ordinance since the late 1990s. An ordinance is expected in 2021/22, but meanwhile the County has been passive in its enforcement of current regulations and the unpermitted rentals have blossomed. The Grand Jury found the lack of enforcement and ordinance development has exacerbated the problems related to these rentals. (03.17.21)
  • Letter: LandWatch Supports Draft STR Ordinance (505K PDF)
    LandWatch Monterey County supported Measure M, which helps address the loss of affordable, long-term housing and commercialization of neighborhoods. With its passage, it is important to assure enforcement. We therefore support the Draft Ordinance amending Chapter 7.40 regarding short-term rental advertising. (10.19.20)
  • County Short Term Rental Ordinance Falls Short
    Planning Commissioners and the public have noticed the ordinance regulating short term rentals isn’t cutting it. Instead of going back to the drawing board, the Commission is submitting the ordinance and a letter to the Board of Supervisors with suggestions for improvement. (07.02.20)
  • Seaside Considers Rental Registry
    To build up its affordable units, Seaside is considering a rental registry and rental review board. The board would work with tenants, help engage with landlords, and do site visits to ensure maintenance annually. (01.08.20)
  • Residents Appeal City’s STR Ban
    Attorneys representing residents in Pacific Grove just turned up the heat by appealing a lower court’s decision on the City’s short-term rental ban. The City banned the vacation rentals because of the state’s dire need for additional housing stock. (01.08.20)
  • Carmel Bans STRs Downtown
    The City of Carmel banned “new” short-term rentals in its downtown district in its unanimous (3-0) vote in early December with two recusals. The rentals that were already there are grandfathered in and will be allowed to keep their license forever. (12.09.19)
  • Homeowners Sue Over Short Term Policy in Pacific Grove
    Homeowners litigated a decision by Pacific Grove that limited their ability to offer short-term rentals through the established lottery system. The Coastal Commission just approved the City’s rights in a decision, which now may impact the lawsuit. (11.26.19)
  • Judge Allows City Evidence in Rental Case
    Pacific Grove adopted a short-term rental policy, which then prompted a lawsuit against the city. The judge in the case has decided to allow the city to enter new evidence and will hear the case in mid-December. (10.28.19)
  • Planning Commissioners Support Short Term Rental Policy
    County Planning Commissioners set the tone for how and when short term vacation rentals might be appropriate in the unincorporated areas of the County. For example, the principal owner must reside in the home 275 days a year. The policy recommendation goes to the Board of Supervisors next. (07.26.19)
  • Letter: LandWatch Comments on County Rentals Policy (680K PDF)
    In a letter to the Chair and Commissioners for Monterey County, LandWatch outlines concerns about the lack of clarity in the short term and vacation rentals policy being proposed for the County. (07.15.19)
  • Revised Policy Promised Later
    County staff blames key staff turnover and conflicting work priorities has limited staff’s ability to work on the vacation rental regulations, which would cover coastal and inland areas. (04.04.19)
  • LandWatch Endorses Short-Term Rental Ballot Measure
    Pacific Grove seeks to limit short-term rentals in residential areas via a ballot measure—called Measure M. LandWatch has endorsed Measure M. (10.01.18)
  • LandWatch Policy on Short-Term Rentals, Vacation Rentals and Second Homes
    LandWatch adopted five land use principles as the foundation for our work. One of those principles is to provide affordable housing for local working families, located within mixed-income neighborhoods. To support this principle, the LandWatch Board of Directors recently adopted a set of policies on short-term rentals, vacation rentals and second homes, including accessory dwelling units or “granny units” (which we strongly support).

Employer-Sponsored Affordable Housing

Policy & Legislation

  • Housing Policy is Climate Policy
    LandWatch’s e-alert talks about the intersection of housing and climate. California faces both a housing crisis and a climate emergency. Within our 482 cities, we don’t build enough housing that is “affordable by design.” And, we drive too often and too far in cars, which generates more than 40% of California’s greenhouse gases. The solution is both simple and obvious: build more housing in cities of all sizes where people work, so they don’t have to drive. (02.02.21)
  • California’s New Housing Bill Seeks To End Single-Family Zoning
    Senator Wiener’s bill, Senate Bill 902, focuses on a “by-right” ability for developers to build duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes with cities that meet specific population requirements. This bill is a new attempt to help with the housing crises and allow for a more streamlined process. (03.11.20)
  • LandWatch Supports SB 50 (689K PDF)
    SB 50 (Wiener) addresses our housing crisis by increasing production, while preserving local control and enabling communities to create tailored plans that meet their needs. The bill gives cities new tools to help rent-burdened workers and families while combating homelessness, displacement, and migration out of California. (01.28.20)
  • LandWatch Offers Insights on Housing Issues (115K PDF)
    LandWatch released two reports that show that local governments are failing to address the housing needs of local working families by adhering to outdated general plans and zoning ordinances instead of more affordable units. (06.03.19)
  • Endorsement: LandWatch Supports SB 50 – More HOMES Act (499K PDF)
    LandWatch supports Senator Weiner’s More HOMES Act because it is a climate solution, makes housing more abundant, reduces the cost of living, builds a fairer California, and provides better access to affordable homes with increased accesses to transit and pedestrian lifestyles. (03.28.19)
  • Affordability Out of Reach Locally, Statewide
    A Salinas family can’t get ahead because of the cost of their rent even when picking up extra shifts… the rent is too high. This is a big issue in the state of California, so much so that four of 11 ballot measures on the November 2018 ballot focus on housing affordability. (10.18.18)
  • LandWatch Supports Garden Road Zoning Amendment (498K PDF)
    LandWatch supports the proposed zoning amendment to allow mixed uses (residential and commercial) and multifamily residential uses in certain properties located along Garden Road. The zoning amendment is consistent with LandWatch’s smart growth principles because it allows for infill residential use consistent with efficient and compact urban development and because it encourages higher density, multifamily residential development that typically increases affordability. We urge the City’s timely approval of the project. (10.09.18)
  • April 19th on Farmworker Housing Study
    Join us at the “Farmworker Housing Study and Action Plan for Salinas and Pajaro Valleys,” sponsored by City of Salinas and Regional Partners, including Monterey Bay Economic Partnership. We look forward to exploring housing solutions for farmworkers. (04.05.18)
  • Mixed Use and Affordability Before Monterey Council
    LandWatch joins the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership in recommending to the City of Monterey that the City allocate limited water to mixed use housing and commercial projects, NOT to commercial projects solely. The City has some Water Allocations available and the current policy is to support mixed-use developments that have affordable housing components. Some business leaders are proposing that the Water Allocations be awarded to projects that only have commercial components. The Council has a balanced policy that meets both economic development and housing goals. (02.06.18)
  • Thank you, Monterey City Council!
    Tuesday, the Monterey City Council voted 5-0 to continue its policy of allocating limited water supplies to mixed use housing and commercial projects, not to commercial projects solely. This means the Council has a balanced policy that meets both economic development and housing goals. LandWatch submitted comments in favor of allocations to mixed use and affordable housing projects. We applaud the City Council for this thoughtful decision. (02.06.18)
  • Governor Signs Affordable Housing Package
    At the very end of the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature passed 15 bills focused on California’s lack of affordable housing.  Two bills create funding for construction of affordable units and others remove red tape to approval processes. (09.29.17)
  • Legislature Narrowly Passed Affordable Housing Bills
    Working collaboratively with the Governor, the California Legislature passed several bills that focus on affordable housing.  Permanent funds will soon be available for affordable housing through a new real estate fee.  The bill will generate over $5 billion over the next five years when matched with other funds. (09.14.17)
  • Legislative Frenzy on Affordable Housing
    Ethan Elkind is Director of the Climate Program at CLEE and leads the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative on behalf of the UC Berkeley and UCLA Schools of Law and wrote this piece on the housing legislation before the California Legislature.  Three bills of the 150 proposed are still in play. (09.13.17)
  • Letter: LandWatch Policy Would Strengthen Affordable Housing Policy
    Current provisions in the draft General Plan Update don’t make a strong enough commitment to affordable housing. This LandWatch letter outlines a better approach. (03.23.04)
  • Memo: LandWatch Urges Stronger GPU Affordable Housing Policies
    LandWatch is urging stronger affordable housing policies in the Monterey County General Plan. Here is the proposal LandWatch made to the GPU Refinement Group for its August 28, 2003 meeting. (08.26.03)
  • LandWatch Urges Stronger GPU Affordable Housing Policies
    LandWatch is urging stronger affordable housing policies in the Monterey County General Plan. Here is the proposal LandWatch made to the GPU Refinement Group for its August 28, 2003 meeting. (08.26.03)
  • Recommendations To Mayors‚ Ad Hoc Housing Committee
    Here are four specific suggestions on how local governments can help ensure the production of more affordable housing, housing that can be afforded by persons with average and below average incomes. The Mayors‚ Ad Hoc Committee received over one hundred suggestions, and many of them are good. LandWatch will continue to work and advocate for strong affordable housing policies. (05/01/01)
  • Cooperative Action Needed On State Housing Allocation
    LandWatch is urging local and state elected officials to work cooperatively to establish realistic housing figures for Monterey County. (8/3/00)

Background & History

  • Monterey County Housing, Not Affordable
    The California Association of Realtors released results on the county’s median income. It appears those that earn $58,980 a year can only qualify for a mortgage loan for a home costing $298,120 or lower. That means there are only two places you can afford to live: King City and Greenfield. (08.20.15)
  • Looking to Massachusetts for Ideas
    Fixing a housing crisis is difficult.  In fact, the State Legislature tried to resolve some of it in the wee hours of this year’s legislative session. The State of Massachusetts can be a role model for California in achieving more affordable housing and motivate local governments into action. (09.13.17)
  • California’s High Housing Costs Explained
    These great articles and graphics outline why housing costs are so astronomical in California and offers explanations on why it is so bad and how it came to be.  Get informed by reading the articles. (08.21.17)
  • Housing Prices and Growth Management
    This article was written in response to a letter to the editor that appeared in the Santa Cruz County PDC Newsletter. It points out that sound land use and growth management policies are not the cause of Monterey County’s rising housing prices. (posted 05/22/02)
  • Housing Needs Forums Are Coming Up! (03/07/01)
    If you’d like to get involved in housing issues in Monterey County, plan on attending one of these upcoming meetings.


Policy Issues & Actions