10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 26-november 1, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Raymond Torres, a native of Soledad, was diagnosed with disabilities over 25 years ago and within a couple of years was connected to housing and services through the nonprofit Central Coast Center for Independent Living. At 63, he’s doing well, living independently in a subsidized senior apartment complex in Monterey. He’s not shy talking about his experiences with others in need of help. “I try to show them, it can be done. It’s not the end of the world,” Torres says. Torres’ experiences and passion for outreach made him an ideal choice for a new steering committee to create a master plan on aging and living with disabilities in the Salinas Valley, made possible by a $200,000 grant from the California Department of Aging to Salinas-based Alliance on Aging in August. He was recommended by CCCIL to provide his insights to the committee. The nonprofit applied for the grant specifically for the Salinas Valley—one of 15 regions in the state that received funding—because it’s historically been underserved and because of its unique geography, with towns spread far enough apart that distances can lead to people feeling isolated, says Alliance on Aging Executive Director John McPhereson. “We want to see if there are opportunities to address the needs of seniors and people who are disabled in those communities,” as well as determine ways to better connect them to each other, he says. A steering committee of nearly 50 representatives from the Salinas Valley was created, then divided into three subcommittees. Their charge is to develop a Local Aging and Disability Plan, part of the larger Master Plan for Aging created by Gov. Gavin Newsom via executive order in 2019. The steering committee first met the week of Oct. 16. In early January they will release a community survey, and later will analyze the results and create an action plan that will be presented to cities and the County of Monterey in early 2025. One focus of the committee’s work, McPhereson says, is to create a short list of actionable ideas for improving people’s quality of life, as well as extending life expectancies. From Torres’ vantage point, he sees two challenges that need improvement: housing and transportation. The state’s master plan focuses on five goals: increasing housing; closing the health care equity gap; preventing isolation; creating a million “high-quality” caregiving jobs; and increasing economic sufficiency among seniors. Earlier this month, the cities of Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield and King City rejected three proposals they received for waste hauling services. The main factor was price. “Everybody was surprised. We thought by combining all together, we would probably get a better, more competitive rate,” says Patrick Matthews, general manager of Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority. (SVSWA, also known as Salinas Valley Recycles, is overseeing the hiring of waste hauling services.) The rates residents would pay under the bids that came in would be 30- to 50-percent higher than current rates. The cities received proposals from Waste Management (currently King City’s and Monterey County’s provider); GreenWaste Recovery, which serves several cities on the Monterey Peninsula; and Recology, based in San Francisco. Tri-Cities Disposal & Recycling Service, the current waste hauling provider in Gonzales, Soledad and Greenfield, did not bid for the contract. The existing contracts expire on June 30, 2025. For Tri-Cities, 32-gallon garbage cart service runs $29.50; the lowest bidder for the new proposal was GreenWaste at $38.58 per month. Last year, the four South County cities decided to bid collectively for future contracts, aiming for better prices. The aim was to have a new contract before the end of the current fiscal year, June 30, 2024. Officials say it’s important to award waste hauling contracts at least one year before operations start, especially if a new operator is selected. Setting up new service routes can take a year, in addition to potentially needing to order new curbside carts and trucks. “Ordering new garbage trucks alone can take nine months to a year, potentially even longer,” Matthews says. Since the cities rejected all three bids received, their next step is negotiating extensions with the current haulers (Tri-Cities and Waste Management). They may seek contracts independently, rather than collectively. Life Plan Work begins on a master plan for people aging in the Salinas Valley. By Pam Marino news Small Town, Big Questions Mayor Scott Donaldson and County Supervisor Wendy Root Askew host a town hall meeting to address questions about Del Rey Oaks. 5:30-7pm Thursday, Oct. 26. Del Rey Oaks City Hall, 650 Canyon Del Rey Blvd., Del Rey Oaks. Free. delreyoaks. org. Come in Peace Amid global violence and conflict, CSU Monterey Bay hosts a peace walk. Participants are encouraged to wear white. Noon-1pm Friday, Oct. 27. CSUMB Heron Hall, 3110 Inter-Garrison Road, Seaside. Free. ssnapp@csumb.edu. Ranking Projects King City has $250,000 in funds for Safe Routes to School projects and is now conducting a survey to get feedback on people’s favorite ideas. Voting is open to King City residents and workers ages 12 and up, with voting available in person or online. Voting runs from Friday Oct. 27-Sunday, Nov. 12. Ballots available at all King City schools, City Hall and other locations. To find the closest ballot/dropoff location, visit bit.ly/kingcitypb. Free. To vote online, visit bit.ly/471539s. Showing love To celebrate Make a Difference Day, Amor Salinas is organizing local park cleanups. For volunteers ages 13 and up. 8-11am Saturday, Oct. 28 at El Dorado Park, 1655 El Dorado Drive, Salinas; register at tinyurl.com/salinasfunam. 10:30am-2:30pm Saturday, Oct. 28 at Sherwood Park (bring your Halloween costume), 920 N. Main St., Salinas; register at tinyurl.com/salinasfunpm. Free. 758-7096, cristophers@ci.salinas. ca.us, cityofsalinas.org. Street Food Various local cities (including Monterey, King City and Salinas) have food truck ordinances and the City of Marina is considering one, as well. City officials are seeking community input before moving forward. The city is conducting a survey to learn what residents think about food trucks, where they should be located and how many should be allowed in the city. To complete the survey, visit bit. ly/46IFJoW. Free. For more information, call 884-1278. Book Worms Each community has different needs, that’s why Monterey County Free Libraries wants to hear from library users with the goal of adapting operating hours based on need. Each branch has its own survey. To take the survey, visit shorturl.at/ lyAHX. For more information, contact your nearest library branch or visit emcfl.org. Garbage Out High prices push South County cities to reject trash service proposals. By Celia Jiménez Goals in the plan include preventing isolation for seniors and people with disabilities. Similar programs like water aerobics at the Monterey Sports Center help do that. e-mail: publiccitizen@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX He sees two challenges: housing and transportation. Daniel Dreifuss