2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 11 Jun 2002 17:29:49 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Housing debates hold up the fort
Housing debates hold up the fort 

By John Ritter, USA TODAY 

MARINA, Calif. ? Generations of soldiers trained for war on the hills, 
beaches and chaparral of sprawling Fort Ord. When the Pentagon closed it 
in 1994, Fort Ord became the largest military installation to return to 
civilian hands in the post-Cold War era of nationwide base closings.

Now this picturesque 45 square miles on the Pacific coast just north of 
the Monterey Peninsula is being redeveloped ? a magnificent opportunity 
for a region already blessed with natural beauty and mild climate.

But the transfer of key portions of the former Army base to local 
governments has stalled over an issue that bedevils much of California 
and, increasingly, other parts of the country: the need for more 
affordable housing.

The Monterey Peninsula, with a median home price of $375,000, is the 
nation's second-worst affordable housing market, behind only San 
Francisco, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders 
survey. Nine of the USA's 10 least-affordable areas are in California.

Breathtaking scenery and world-class golf courses and resorts make 
tourism the peninsula's top economic engine. But hospitality industry 
workers aren't the only ones fleeing high rents and home prices or 
commuting long distances to jobs. Middle-class teachers, police 
officers, firefighters and college professors are also priced out of the 

The pattern, seen in many parts of California, worsens traffic 
congestion, air pollution and other social problems, experts say. The 
recent recession did little to cool the state's red-hot housing markets. 
The median price of a California home was $321,950 in April, a 26.1% 
jump from April 2001.

In March, 29% of California households could afford a median-priced 
home, down 5 percentage points from a year ago and barely half the 
national rate of 57%, according to the California Association of 
Realtors. Housing advocates see Fort Ord as a way to correct some of the 
imbalance, but two cities that will acquire large tracts of the base 
stand in the way.

The mayors of Seaside and Marina contend that for years their cities 
took a disproportionate share of the peninsula's affordable housing. Now 
they want multimillion-dollar homes in their communities like those in 
the affluent nearby cities of Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove. The 
mayors acknowledge the region's housing crisis but want those three 
cities to take a greater share of low-end housing.

"We need to stop putting the burden of supplying affordable housing on 
the backs of the two jurisdictions that are trying to recover from the 
closing of Fort Ord," says Seaside Mayor Jerry Smith. When the Army 
pulled out, Marina lost 5,000 jobs and more than 40% of its population. 
Seaside's population declined 15%.

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