The Lost Opportunity

The following is an editorial from the Peninsula Daily Herald published on June 11, 1926.


Monterey Should Buy the Del Monte Water-Front Now

Monterey looks forward expectantly to water-front development and commerce. Pacific Grove and Carmel look forward similarly to the development in Monterey.

The suggestion is not untimebly today that Monterey should look forward sufficiently to acquire at the earliest possible time the beach frontage known as the Del Monte bath-house property before its acquisition becomes a financial impossibility.

Deducting the railroad right of way, there are approximately 24 acres in this tract of land, a small part of which fronts Del Monte Avenue.

As the Del Monte Properties company has already drawn maps for the subdivision of that particular section, it behooves this city to plan negotiations for the entire property or see part of it sold in the near future, and most of it ultimately, and the city's opportunities for water-front development effectively blocked.

It is not reasonable to ask any private corporation to hold property indefinitely while it pays taxes and street improvements until a city is "ready" to buy.

Two years ago officials of the City of Monterey requested information regarding the sale price of this property and were informed that the Del Monte Properties company would sell it for $100,000, with the provision that it be maintained exclusively for park purposes.

There would be plenty of ready buyers in Monterey today at that price, with the restriction removed.

If the City of Monterey pressed its case, it is reasonable to believe that the restriciton would be removed from that considerable section of waterfront between the bath-house and the easterly line of the city on the Bay.

A purchase at a reasonable price, which this assuredly is, that would safeguard the development of the waterfront near the new municipal wharf, and also in part, provide for the people of this growing city a section of park in the last location left in or adjacent to this city, is a move that would bring no regrets, at the time it was done and would in every year that passes redound further to the credit of those who had the foresight to command a situation when it lay in their power to do so.

One of the most prominent real-estate men of the Monterey Peninsula was interested in the possibility of the purchase of this property by the city two years ago. At that time he stated his conviction that the city could not make a better buy. 

This is the only piece of property in the lower section of the "old town" that has not been materially increased in price since that time or entirely withdrawn from the market. The Herald has definitely ascertained that the waterfront may still be purchased by the city for $100,000 on almost any kind of terms.

The City of Monterey needs that beach and waterfront. The operation of the bath-house itself would pay the major part of the interest charges on the debt incurred and under efficient management might pay those charges completely.

At least part of this property will be subdivided in the near future if the city does not step in, and there is nothing to prevent the subdivision and sale under under restrictions of the balance of the property at any time the Del Monte company decides it is useless to wait any longer for a decision by this city. 

This property is worth the price TODAY to the City of Monterey if purchased with park restrictions in perpetuity. It is worth double the price if the restriction is removed from the acreage between the easterly beach line of the city and the bath-house proper, so that when the day arrives when its use is necessary, it will be available.

If there is any sub-dividing to do it should be done by the City of Monterey carefully protecting its present and future interests and water-front development. The Del Monte Bath-house Property should be purchased, and the necessary negotiations for that purchase should not be delayed.

Evidently, the city failed to heed the advice. The property was subdivided for commercial use, which blocked views of the bay from Del Monte Avenue for many decades. In the mid 1980s the City of Monterey began working to undo its mistake. With financial help from the the California State Parks department, the city slowly bought up these commercial properties, one at a time, as they become available. The buildings were demolished, eventually creating the park commonly known as the Window on the Bay.

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