[Skip to Content]

Fort Ord reimagined at event

February 22, 2015 – Monterey Herald, By Phillip Molnar

Marina – Imagine hundreds of pedestrians biking and walking past scrub oak trees on their way to Silicon Valley-style jobs.

In the center of town is a John Steinbeck memorial fountain where fuel-efficent cars buzz around, reminiscent of London’s Piccadilly Circus.

At night, a light rail similar to one in Portland rushes millennials to downtown Monterey for a night on the town.

This is, more or less, the vision planners presented as possibilities for Fort Ord on Monday.

For the next week or so, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority is asking the public for its input on designing future development on the former Army base. The ideas will be used to create “Regional Urban Design Guidelines” that will need to be reviewed by all future projects.

“When the built part of (Fort Ord) comes, it needs to be special,” said Peter Katz, author of “The New Urbanism,” who spoke to a crowd of about 70 at Carpenter’s Union Hall in Marina. “Ultimately, this is going to be an area where a lot of activities are going to happen.”

Katz and planner Victor Dover, coauthor of the book “Street Design,” said dozens of cities have remade old or dilapidated parts of town into something great.

“If they can do it, you can do it,” said Dover, whose firm, Dover, Kohl & Partners, was hired by the reuse agency to help lead the design process.

The two stressed the many benefits of streets with slower speed limits that emphasize people instead of cars and mixed-use buildings that often have better tax benefits than big box stores, and gushed over European cities like Amsterdam.

The design workshop split attendees into groups of eight. Laid out in front of them were several large base maps and a pile of highlighters.

For some, coming to the event was a chance to hopefully reverse some of what has come before.

Steve Bradford, a Realtor and resident of Seaside, said he did not like the look of the East Garrison housing development because he felt it was too cramped together. He said new housing on the former base should take into account the beauty of the area, spread out a little more and be “a place of sanctuary.”

Bill Weigle, also of Seaside, said he was concerned planners were ignoring conservation rules.

“They aren’t looking at the destruction of coastal woodlands,” he said.

Familiar faces in land use battles on the base were present, mixing with everyone else. Monterey County Business Council head Mary Ann Leffel and Seaside Councilman Jason Campbell — leaders on both sides of 2013’s Measures M and K, dueling Fort Ord land-use measures that failed — were present.

People were given handheld remotes to answer questions and give opinions of items that appeared on a large screen at the front of the room.

They were asked how long they lived in the area, exactly where they lived, shown pictures of different types of intersections and streets, modern and old-style McDonald’s restaurants, housing, public transportation, coastal homes and age.

Fifty-four percent of the crowd was 60 and older.

Monterey Downs developer Brian Boudreau was at the event and said his proposed equestrian-themed development fit well into design principles discussed.

“We think we’ve done a phenomenal job meeting these principles,” he said. “It reaffirms what we’ve been working on for five years.”

The guidelines would be part of a base reuse plan but are technically not a code or standard that is a legally binding requirement needed to develop a project on the base. Fort Ord Reuse Authority executive officer Michael Houlemard said the guidelines’ addition to the base reuse plan cut through legal confusion.

“(Guidelines) will become the terms under which we do consistency determinations and that is very legal,” he said.

The next public design workshop takes place Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Soper Community Center at 220 Coe Ave. in Seaside, with additional meetings planned for Thursday, Saturday, and next Monday and Wednesday. The final guidelines report is anticipated to be reviewed by the authority sometime in April.

For more details, go to Fora.org.

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.