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Rep. Panetta requests help to stop sale of Pacific Grove building after residents share opposition

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (KION) Congressman Jimmy Panetta has asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for help to stop the sale of a property in Pacific Grove after residents shared their opposition to the sale.

Panetta shared a letter he wrote to NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad concerning a federal government property in the 1300 block of Lighthouse Avenue. The building currently belongs to NOAA, but the US General Services Administration is working to sell it within a few months.

In the letter, Panetta said that for more than a decade, residents have shared their opposition of the sale. In 2012, he said the City Council passed a resolution requesting a public benefit conveyance for the property, and a similar resolution was passed this year. He also said 1,000 residents signed a petition backed by the Mayor, City Council and Chamber of Commerce of the same effect.

Despite that, Panetta said, "The federal government, regrettably, has continued to ignore the local community's desire to see the property transferred in a manner consistent with retaining public benefit. Equally concerning to me is the GSA's unwillingness to elevate strict local land-use planning restrictions associated with the property."

The GSA apparently recognized the California Coastal Commission's requirements for the property, according to Panetta, but has not fully committed to preserving the environmental, historical and cultural values of the property. He said that in a letter to GSA leadership, the commission referenced Pacific Grove's Local Coastal Program, which includes a provision limiting use of the site to "coastal-dependent marine research and educational activities, aquaculture and coastal-dependent recreation and public recreational access."

Panetta wrote that he supports the restrictions in the Local Coastal Program and is not confident that a private buyer will be able to meet them.

The reason for the letter to NOAA, Panetta said, is that he has already shared his concerns with Acting GSA Administrator Katy Kale, but that he is concerned that the GSA will continue with the sale unless NOAA intervenes.

Read Panetta's full letter below.

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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