Jon Chown/Monterey Bay Media
The Wharfside Stompers entertain visitors to Old Fisherman's Wharf on Thursday, March 22.

A Monterey City official indicated that the city is using money from its Tidelands Fund for maintenance that has nothing to do with city’s tidelands regions, in a Monterey Herald story just published.

As previously reported by Montereybayareanews.com, it is illegal for the city to use money collected from rents from its state-granted tidelands properties for the city’s general fund.

“Tidelands funds absolutely cannot be used for municipal purposes,” said California State Lands Commission Chief Legislative Liaison Sheri Pemberton in a telephone interview. “They are supposed to get fair market rent for that property, and can adjust rents as they see fit, but can’t raise rents to use money on unconnected local purposes.”

That’s because those properties were granted by the state with the condition that all revenues raised through their management would go towards improving them to the benefit of all Californians.

But when discussing lease revenues from Old Fisherman’s Wharf, the Herald said City Housing and Property Manager Rick Marvin told reporters that “the city pays for street and bathroom maintenance through lease revenues, which also go toward maintenance elsewhere in the city.”

Unfortunately, the Herald’s story missed the significance of Marvin’s statement.

Also noteworthy is that Planning Commissioner Bill McCrone has completely changed his tune on the reasons he wants to raise rents at the wharf and elsewhere. Previously, he had talked about needing to raise rents to pay for a range of city services. Back in April, he claimed in a Monterey Weekly story that the money from increased rents on the wharf could be used to repair streets and avoid raising taxes on residents. But in this latest story by the Herald, he told reporters that increased rents could “help create a better, more vibrant destination for tourists and locals alike.”

Is it possible that McCrone, the very person credited with instigating the move to increase rents and limit lease terms on the wharf, now realizes the illegality of his motive and the city’s current procedures?

The whole issue surrounding these properties is not that difficult to investigate on the web, as long as you don’t want to look very far back. Since 2013, each grantee of these tidelands properties has been required to submit a standardized form. Monterey’s most two recent forms can be found by clicking here and here.

Neither of these forms seems to give a full accounting of income and expenditures regarding Monterey’s tidelands properties, but gives unexplained numbers that don’t appear to have anything to do with what city earns or spends on its Tidelands properties. It reports just $564,000 in rental income on the form, while telling the Herald it made $1.3 million on wharf rents.

However one views Monterey’s Tidelands Funds reports, they are not nearly as clear as the forms Santa Cruz submits, which can be viewed here.

Montereybayareanews.com has requested a meeting with city officials to discuss the Tidelands Fund and how it is managed. I will keep readers updated.

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