Parking Lot No. 4 on the 500 block of Main Street in downtown Watsonville is flanked by Ramos Furniture. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville City Council today will decide whether to sell the Resetar Parking Lot in downtown Watsonville to the Ow family for $542,850.

The sale is part of the consent agenda of today’s Council meeting. Items on the consent agenda typically pass without deliberation, though council members and members of the public can pull any item for discussion.

The 40-space lot at 535 Main St., also known as Parking Lot No. 4, is used daily by multiple businesses in downtown, including county-wide nonprofit Community Bridges, which is just two doors down.

Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino said the nonprofit tried to buy the lot two years ago, but the City of Watsonville was not interested in selling at that time. The organization also tried to buy the adjacent property but was outbid by the Ow family, which also owns the property that houses Ramos Furniture on the other side of the parking lot.

“The nonprofit gets second priority again…It’s frustrating but it’s not surprising—I get it,” Cancino said. “I’m sure the city is looking at this sale as part of its long-term development plan for downtown.”

If the sale is approved, the Ow family will own three consecutive parcels, setting up the possibility of a large-scale redevelopment near the intersection of Main and W. 5th streets.

The prepared staff report hinted at probable plans for the trio of properties, saying the move would “facilitate good planning and maximize options for possibly repurposing” the properties into “more efficient mixed-use retail, office, commercial and/or residential as the Downtown Specific Plan is developed.”

Calls into Ow Commercial asking for comment were not returned by 10 a.m. Tuesday.

According to the staff report, the City considered the property “unbuildable” because of easements (the right to cross or use someone else’s land for a specified purpose) put in place by the Resetar and Niebling families, who sold the deed to the City in 1960.

“The burden of the easements makes this property unbuildable to anyone other than the adjacent parcels,” the staff report read.

Cancino said losing those 40 parking spots would be a tough blow for Community Bridges, which pays for permitted parking in the lot along with several other businesses in the area. Many people that drive into downtown to use Community Bridges’ services also use that parking lot, Cancino said.

“I understand that the City is trying to spur development and business growth,” Cancino said, “but at the same time we need to have enough parking to support businesses and the people that come to downtown.”

According to a roughly year-long, city-commissioned study conducted by San Francisco-based Nelson/Nygaard Consulting in 2017, Watsonville’s downtown had sufficient parking to support substantial development. 

Patrick Siegman, principal of Nelson/Nygaard, told the Council during an early 2018 meeting that downtown has a “perceived” parking shortage, as curb spots closest to businesses are often full, yet the city’s two parking garages have a “large surplus” and mostly sit “underutilized.”

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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