Multimillion-dollar work to revitalize Seaside’s lower Broadway Avenue — essentially downtown Seaside — has been completed on the city’s part: there are only two lanes of traffic left, the sidewalks were widened, trees were planted and bike paths were added. But business is not yet booming.
Darryl Choates, former Seaside board member and owner of jazz bar Deja Blue, wants to change that. He invited local business owners to his club on May 17 to discuss the topic of a vacancy tax on commercial properties in the city. “It’s not our goal to tax you, it’s our goal that you rent, rent or sell this damn place,” Choates says.
Seaside council member Alexis García-Arrazola contacted city attorney Sheri Damon last year about the idea – he was also interested in a vacancy tax on residences as well – but the council municipal introduced the idea when Damon reported that implementing such a tax would require voter approval.
Nonetheless, García-Arrazola says he’s committed to exploring the idea again, as enabling a thriving downtown and business community was one of his 2020 campaign promises.
Choates says a potential workaround could be to impose a fee on vacant commercial space — not a tax — because it requires taxpayer-funded resources like police and firefighters. Damon, however, says such a levy should be very specific about the resources it funds, and that city services like fire and police should be excluded.
Meanwhile, on the private sector side, there is exciting progress in Downtown Seaside. Klaus Georis’ long-planned Maligne restaurant is set to open next month on Broadway, and right next door at the corner of Del Monte Boulevard and Palm Street, Doug Wiele – who built the Trader Joe development in Monterey and later remodeled the adjacent Cooper Molera Adobe. site – submitted plans to Seaside on May 6 to redevelop the long-vacant Seaside Market property. As originally proposed, Wiele’s Foothill Partners would build a four-storey mixed-use development with 32 apartments upstairs and mostly casual-style restaurants downstairs. Plans also include a rooftop bar and restaurant, where food can also be ordered from downstairs.
Wiele is confident that the existing water meter can meet the needs of the project, so it would not be slowed by a cease and desist order for Cal Am’s illegal overpumping of the Carmel River.
And Wiele is excited about the prospect of investing in Seaside’s future: “It’s becoming a cool place.”