The Monterey City Council has just decided to spend $31,000 appraising the land on which the Monterey Bay Aquarium sits. Since its inception, the aquarium’s arrangement with local government has had them paying a nominal $1 a year in rent, so some view this as a step towards potentially changing that relationship. Or it could simply be a stress-producing bureaucratic exercise.
The position of Monterey City Manager Mike McCarthy is that the lease agreement requires the city to perform rent review, but this is the first time in 35 years that the city council has looked into that price. For his part, McCarthy falls back on the value of having the data. “I think information is important. The council will get the information and make a decision based on that information.”
Still, the aquarium seems unperturbed. “We understand that there’s this lease term in there that allows the city, or in their interpretation requires the city, to do this five-year review,” Barbara Meister, public affairs director for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said. “While they may go forward and do the appraisal, we expect there will not be much value there.”
McCarthy, on the other hand, does seem to recognize the way a hiked-up rent might go over. “Of course, there is…the great benefit the aquarium brings to the city and the region. The council will certainly take that into effect.”
Just one more thing for the Aquarium to have to worry about. So it goes.—Ruth McCambridge