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Jobs Next Year? Manabe-Ow Moves Forward

Watsonville city councilors approved spending more than $400K to design the business park.

Fifteen years in the making, the Manabe-Ow Business Park could be functional sometime next year.

That's what Watsonville City Manager Carlos Palacios told the city council as a best-case scenario for the long-awaited project that some have built up to be a job-creating savior for the chronically unemployed city.

George Ow Jr., whose family is one of the property owners of the planned business park, spoke enthusiastically about moving forward on the project.

“I’m invested in Watsonville," said Ow. "I have a lot of optimism. … People are down about the economy; I’m not discouraged.”

The city will pay Devcon Construction, Inc., up to $406,212 to design the infrastructure for the business park on the west edge of town, the city council voted Tuesday. The work is due no later than Sept. 12.

The decision to design the first phase of the business park—130,000 square feet of space, as well as roads, utilities and a bridge to access the area—came after quite a bit of discussion.

Sea View Ranch residents, the housing development closest to the planned business park, raised concerns about traffic and quality-of-life issues. Colleen Walo, a Sea View Ranch resident speaking on behalf of her community, said they want to be involved in the planning process.

"I am not against the Manabe Ow project, nor are most of the residents of Sea View Ranch.”

Protecting the slough area and bidding out the design work to get the best quote was also brought up but Walo and other Watsonville residents.

Jenn Laskin, a Renaissance High teacher and Brown Berets mentor, said she’s supportive of how the project has developed and hopes it will bring jobs and hope to young people.

“This project supports the Green Technology Academy that’s opening at Cabrillo and it’s very exciting to have the laboratory where students can develop their skills," Laskin said.

She encourage the city to create eco-tourism jobs in the area.

But City Council Member Emilio Martinez said he's ready to build anything on the site, especially if it will create jobs quickly.

“My dream is to have a casino," he said. "Don’t laugh. Destination Watsonville.”

Palacios said it's possible to have businesses open at the site in late 2013 if the project gets rolling.

"This is a great project," he said.

Ow—a contributor to the , sending sends college-bound high school students to visit prestigious East Coast universities—said he's putting his best effort forth to benefit the community.

“I think it’s exciting to work with the city of Watsonville to try to provide jobs and economic activity," Ow said.

Mayor Eduardo Montesino recused himself from the discussion and decision because of a conflict of interest.

In other city council business:

  • The liquor license to sell beer and wine at the Union 76 station on East Lake Avenue was renewed. 
  • said the city is in good shape during his mid-year budget review. There are positive projections for the $33 million general fund is, despite looming threats. "This fiscal year, we're balanced," he said.
Citizen Watson February 29, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I attended that meeting and find the reporting on it to be lacking We were told by councilor Bersamin that "we were here before the wetlands needed to be protected, so its people first now." this was his response given when asked to give the Wetlands consideration in regard to an ag facility they want to put on wetlands .money for this garden is a grant& can be put anyplace in the city. theMayorwho used to live in subdivision next to the slough wants to put the garden on thispiece of Wetland. Why dont they put this garden in an area of town where people have no direct access to nature or land? The garden could be used to revitalize the downtown. I feel perhaps those who are behind it and those who have been guaranteed plots would not feel safe downtown so they want to put it in the one place in Watsonville with low crime. Plus the city likes to put everything in Seaview Ranch. All the promotional material they use to entice people to come live here is all pictures of Seaview Ranch. Meanwhile all the low income neighborhoods get absolutely nothing. This garden can be put anyplace, why put it on the Wetlands?
Citizen Watson February 29, 2012 at 05:04 PM
also at the city council meeting last night, When 2 councilors Bilicich and Martinez tried to raise concerns over the loan to Mr. Ow they were not even given the respect due to ask the questions. Also they were not given complete financial disclosure and when they requested it they were treated like they were being a problem. Loans need to read thoroughly I did not find it odd to want to know what the percentage rate of the loan is. I guess if you dont like to read the fine print you should not be on council. That is why they are up there, to read the fine print. I had never been to a city council meeting before and was shocked to see how this city is being run (into the ground).
Morgan Martinez February 29, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Costco will never happen. Pipe Dream.
*MAN UNITED* February 29, 2012 at 08:44 PM
If they were to do a "survey" on what local residents spend at Costco in other areas (Santa Cruz, Gilroy, Salinas, Sand City) I am sure they would NOT think twice about. Maybe a "pipe dream" but thats what "dreams" are for!
Cathy P. February 29, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I don't think it's a pipe dream at all, it depends on how city leaders roll with it. Walmart, especially if it's a Super Walmart, could decimate many local businesses including KMart, Target, grocery stores, pharmacies, dollar stores. Costco isn't in the same league.
Cathy P. February 29, 2012 at 09:53 PM
"...Bilicich and Martinez tried to raise concerns over the loan to Mr. Ow they were not even given the respect due to ask the questions." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is nothing new Citizen Watson, it happens at every city council meeting.
Morgan Martinez February 29, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I have serious doubts that Costco would consider opening another store in Watsonville considering that four Costcos surround our community. Santa Cruz, Seaside, Gilroy, and Salinas all have Costcos. And, Costco charges a membership fee to shop at their store. Besides the initial membership fee might be difficult to come up with for most of the families in Watsonville.
*MAN UNITED* March 01, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Maybe so, but look what Target is doing...They are opening another location in Capitola even though they have a store in Watsonville. I dont think Costco would think twice about it either. They can see in their database system to see how many Watsonville residents actually have a membership and do their shopping at other locations. Thanks for the "stereotype" assuming that most of Watsonville's residents are too poor to shop at Costco. I think otherwise + bring on the jobs!
emilio martinez March 01, 2012 at 12:19 AM
A Costco will not come to Watsonville. That is a fact. Costco has a formula that includes the amount of people in a geographical area, the income that the people generate and the amount of Costco Stores in the geographical area that is being considered. The number of people for each store is around 200,000 customers. The Costco in Santa Cruz serves around that amount of people from Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, Capitola, down all the way to Aptos. Watsonville is smack in the middle between Gilroy who services Hollister, Morgan Hill, and urban areas including many from So. San Jose. Seaside handles Carmel, Monterey, Marina and Castrovile. Also, if you are going to put a store near a freeway that has a tremendous amount of tourists driving by you don't want your customers to have to pay to shop. Its a Walmart of which none exists in the entire drive from Scotts Valley to Carmel. The only reason the city of Watsonville wants you to believe its going to be a Costco because they know that they will face some fierce opposition from many in Watsonville that are pro union and others whose businesses will be devastated. I am continually surprised how many people still fall for old tricks
Rebecca Tait March 01, 2012 at 02:04 AM
We were told that Costco has shown an interest in our community. I, personally, do not and will not shop at a WalMart. 90% of the people I know (including some who are near 90) travel the distance to buy at Costco in Santa Cruz, Sand City, Gilroy or Salinas. It is time for us to have something right here in the middle of Watsonville that other cities can come spend their money here. Like Moss Landing, Castroville, Corralitos.
emilio martinez March 01, 2012 at 02:11 AM
"An interest" is subjective and an unfounded statement. Read the Watsonville Fishing Report.
Rebecca Tait March 01, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Emilio, There is a Walmart in Marina. Don't think it does much business.
Cathy P. March 01, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Juan Torres: THANK YOU SO MUCH for saying that so well. I am also sick and tired of the excuses that Watsonville "is too poor to shop at Costco." How many of these so-called "poor people" are walking around with Smartphones and have giant big screen TVs in their livingrooms? (drive through many of the so-called "poor neighborhoods" and tell me I'm wrong about the TVs). The majority of people in Watsonville want the same thing: revenue for our city, jobs, and more shopping choices. I'm with you Juan, bring it on!
Cathy P. March 01, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Re the Watsonville Fishing Report, I was surprised to read that you think that an Indian casino "would create jobs and be a great boom to our economy." Gaming, gambling, etc., is often associated with crime and depending on what side of the issue you're on -and we can argue until the cows come home- casinos often have a negative effect on nearby neighborhoods, i.e increases the amount of traffic, pollution, and crime, and as a result, cities find themselves paying the cost of dealing with these issues. Gambling, in general, has been known to lead to compulsive addiction, increased drug and alcohol abuse, neglect and abuse of children and spouses. Not to mention how Watsonville’s already overworked & underpaid Police Department would deal with the possible increase in their workload. As for being a boom to our economy, the jury is still out on that one. Indian tribal businesses do pay a wide variety of taxes, including taxes on wagering, occupational taxes, and employment taxes. For federal income tax purposes, however, Indian tribes are governmental entities and, as such, are not required to pay taxes on the income generated by the Indian tribes, including income generated by commercial activities. Personally, I am against using tax payer money to build tax-exempt tribal casinos which generate tax-exempt revenues. But what’s fair is fair, and I say every idea belongs on the table for consideration.
Cathy P. March 01, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I've actually been in the Marina Walmart Rebecca and it is a scaled-down version of what Walmart usually builds. Kind of like what they did to the Macy's at Capitola Mall, and our Home Depot in Watsonville, smaller than the average store and one that doesn't have all the "bells & whistles."
Watsonville Citizen March 01, 2012 at 06:19 PM
I would like to weigh in. We had a murder in the Target parking lot here in Watsonville. All around this Target are murders and stabbings. With the new Target going in at the Capitola location I do not see anyone but those who live in Watsonville shopping at the Watsonville Target, I also see an eventual pullout of the Target in Watsonville due to the high cost of shoplifting, the loss of revenue due to the capitlola store and the extra cost of security to patrol the parking lot. When the Capitola Target is open the Watsonville Target will lose huge revenue. Crime is this city is rampant. If people have a choice they will shop where they feel safe.
sandra March 01, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Yes! they say shop local keep the $$ here...where is here. We need more places to shop in order to do so. Ever since the earthquake this town has gone down. So sad. I agree COSTCO& then some.
Rebecca Tait March 01, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I have lived in the LA area most of my life. I moved up here 15 years ago and to Watsonville 8 years ago. I have NEVER felt theathened here. In LA, you had to be careful of everything, everywhere...here it is differenent. If we could get a great store like Costco here that would be good and would bring us up a notch or two. Otherwise, our dollars go out of the area....sad. 90% of the people I talk to say they drive outside the area to purchase goods. That will continue until we get something here.
Cathy P. March 01, 2012 at 06:41 PM
"...you don't want your customers to have to pay to shop." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ I totally disagree. Costco strategically places their stores so that they can be seen from a freeway where they can generate enough traffic to get people to stop and shop. All the stores, Santa Cruz, Sand City, Salinas, & Gilroy can be seen from a freeway. It's not just tourists driving up and down Hwy 1, there's a lot of regular commuters on the road everyday too.
David H. Perez March 01, 2012 at 07:03 PM
To dovetail with the last comment by itsmecissy, I also thank Juan Torres for jumping on comments and stereotypes that Watsonville residents are too poor to shop at Costco. I shop at Costco on a regular basis - unfortunately, my patronage benefits the communities of Santa Cruz and Gilroy, since we have no Costco here. It seems there is some mysterious force in this city that tries to squelch any attempts to bring a little class to Watsonville. This results in many of us choosing to spend our money out of the area since there is basically little here. Our City Council especially has had certain members over the years (and at least one who has gone to a higher office) that seem to want to perpetuate the image of Watsonville only as a poor community . This, in effect, has kept Watsonville "dumbed down". Perhaps these select council members figure the more they keep the people down (or at least that perception), the more likely they and their cronies can keep getting re-elected. If Watsonville becomes too wealthy or too intelligent, certain individuals might lose their City Council seat. So heaven forbid that we put in any decent shopping, or perhaps a high-end gated community of homes instead of just low-income housing!
*MAN UNITED* March 01, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Amen David! Never thought of it that way! Heaven fordid that more citizens start making more money and get more educated than most city councils members. They still think we are mostly a "field worker" community...NOT ANYMORE! Yes, our parents or grandparents were ag workers but the newer generations (X and Y) DONT work the fields! We are office workers, administrative, accounting, medical and manager professionals! Just as our parents wanted a better life for us, we want our kids to take it to the NEXT level. Unfortunately there is NOTHING to offer them here in Watsonville. That is why MOST of the talented people MOVE away from here NEVER to return. Time for the council to think to the future and outside of the box. This is NOT the 70's or 80's. Watsonville needs to catch up with its neighbors.
David H. Perez March 01, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Right on brother Juan!
Cathy P. March 02, 2012 at 12:13 AM
"....we were here before the wetlands needed to be protected, so its people first now." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ A totally ignorant statement. It's more like without the wetlands there would be no people. Unbelieveable (shaking my head).
wetlandswatchdog March 11, 2012 at 12:30 AM
"Fifteen years in the making, the Manabe-Ow Business Park could be functional sometime next year. That's what Watsonville City Manager Carlos Palacios told the city council as a best-case scenario for the long-awaited project that some have built up to be a job-creating savior for the chronically unemployed city." I just got the Watsonville newsletter in with the utility bill. It plainly states that due to the redevelopment agency closing there is no money to move ahead with the Manabe ow project. How can Mr Palacious say that there will be jobs there in one year? That is not right. It will take many years to build it out and even then most of the construction jobs will not go to Watsonvilles large unskilled labor pool. How can a city manager make such a statement? Do we just live on hopes and dreams in this town!
Jennifer Squires March 11, 2012 at 03:43 AM
The $400K design contract the council approved is due in September, which means if there is funding (via the state or an investor), there could be ground-breaking at the site this fall/winter. Conceivably, if one were really on it, something could be done by the end of 2013. Also, "jobs" could mean building the infrastructure, not actual companies moving in and hiring.
wetlandswatchdog March 11, 2012 at 03:17 PM
ok so you are trying to interpret what Mr. Palacious said. I commend your effort to try to make sense of what he said at the council meeting. He says it could be functional and open for business. I guess you and I are interpret what he said differently than how I understand it to be. Functional to me means a place ready for people to work, not construction. But thanks for the comment and the effort to translate!
Watzon McWats May 09, 2012 at 04:41 AM
@Morgan Martinez A Costco membership fee is peanuts. If a family can't afford that, they can't even afford to live in Watsonville.
Watzon McWats May 09, 2012 at 04:43 AM
I think some small tech or tech industry supporting factories would be a nice addition. Circuit boards, sheet metal, machining, fab, contract manufacturing, etc. The rent is cheaper than Silicon Valley, and we're still close enough to keep the delivery costs down.
Watzon McWats May 09, 2012 at 04:48 AM
@Watsonville Citizen Crime in our town is about in line with the national average. You're confusing small town gossip for a high crime rate. In other words, in a small town, everything seems big.
Quite Big Bill May 20, 2012 at 09:01 AM
Best case scenario? In and Out Burgers and Costco will take current business and current jobs away from the other local burger joints and retail outlets. On the other hand, allowing Bay Concert Arts to return to Watsonville won’t cost the Taxpayers any money and will generate a steadily increasing flow of new customers and NEW MONEY for existing local business. BCA’s music will help generate new local jobs for today’s LOCAL PEOPLE. We have always represented solid gold for THE PEOPLE of Watsonville. We still stand ready to deliver the real deal FOR THEM. When may Bay Concert Arts finally start cranking those free gold nuggets out of the Mello Center?

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