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Monterey County Supervisors approve changes to $20 million Pajaro relief plan to allow more funding for individual, economic recovery

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV) -- A $20 million plan has been approved by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors which would offer half of the funding to individual and economic recovery.

Originally the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services suggested $6 million for this category of assistance but supervisors felt it wasn't enough. On Wednesday it was adjusted to $10 million after a unanimous vote.
"It was a terrible experience. Very depressed scene. Our all our savings, our future fund with all the flooded with everything we lost. It was emotional roller coaster," said Conie Alvarez.

Conie and her husband owns Alvarez Auto Repair in Pajaro. She says they lost over 100 thousand dollars to keep her business open. She says financial aid and even her insurance denied her of any assistance.

"We still had to pay bills, you know, electricity license, and we didn't have no income coming in," Alvarez says as she describes the hardships during the flooding.

The $20 million plan also addresses other long-term recovery needs after devastating flooding in the town back in March.

Final allocation of a $20 million long-term recovery effort for Pajaro after disastrous flooding back in March. (Courtesy of County of Monterey)

The original plan saw some funding for Housing Infrastructure and upgrades to Pajaro Middle School recreation, however those were cut entirely from the new plan.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District Interim Superintendent Murry Schekman told KION that he is disappointed with the County's move to cut two million dollars in funding to rebuild the school's field.

Schekman said they hope the county can change their mind and still expect to be able to repair the building but was hoping to have the field completely renovated with the funding for use by students and the community.

There was some back and forth from supervisors during the meeting, who also acknowledged that small businesses "received nothing" in the immediate aftermath of the flooding in regards to relief.

$20 million recovery plan outlines long term efforts to revitalize Pajaro after flooding

The Monterey County Department of Emergency Management unveiled its Pajaro long-term recovery plan to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Discussion during the meeting lead to County Supervisors having to revisit the subject to better formulate where the money would be best of use.

The plan comes after weeks of gathering input from community members alongside the Pajaro Revitalization Committee.

Uriel Valencia lives in Pajaro and says $20 million is not enough.

"There is so many things needs to be addressed in Pajaro," says Valencia.

The recovery plan is worth $20 million and lists multiple priorities, including an additional $0.4 million or 2% as a contingency fund to address cost overruns should they occur.

Some are more long-term, including mental health issues felt in the community.

"One of my close friends, very close family friends. Not too long ago, committed suicide for the same reason that there aren't enough opportunities because of what happened during the floods," said a resident in Pajaro who spoke during the meeting.

As it stands, the county broke down the funding as follows:

  1. $6 million for Individual & Economic Recovery: Includes unmet recovery needs, case management, support for undocumented flood survivors, and small business recovery
  2. $3 million for Community Resource Development and Community Grants
  3. $2.75 million for Infrastructure & Community Development: This includes a breakdown of funding for Pajaro signage, a "Safe Streets" program and planning for Housing Infrastructure and Feasibility.
  4. $6.7 million for Natural & Cultural Resources: This portion allows $3.5 million set aside for Pajaro Library/Community Space and Resilience Center development, $2 million for Pajaro Middle School recreation upgrades and $1.2 million for improving Pajaro parks.
  5. $1.15 million for Emergency Preparedness, Readiness & Response: This includes funding to develop emergency response and flood mitigation, along with a digital message board and funding for preparedness and recovery planning.

"The levee and the infrastructure repair is based on tax basis within the communities borrows a community of 3,000 working class community does not have a great deal resources." Monterey County Supervisor Glenn Church said. "This is change year for that because we realize it's unfair and that's what we're trying to address past inequities there."

Valencia says the 20 million is not enough but is a step in the right direction, but as a resident of Pajaro for decades, he wonders where the money has been going all this time the last time the town flooded.

"Where is the money going? We haven't see any improvement. We pay to maintain the parks and they charge that on my property taxes. So what are they doing with our revenue?" said Valencia.

The County plans on revisiting the conversation on where the money should be distributed on Wednesday at noon. The County will have until Dec. 31, 2025 to use those funds.

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Victor Guzman

Victor Guzman is the Assistant News Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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