8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 15-21, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news When Mi Tierra, a Mexican market and taqueria in Seaside, closed for renovations at the end of August 2022, the notice on its door read that owners intended to reopen in spring of 2023. It was tough news for local taco lovers, as the store’s taqueria served arguably the best tacos in Monterey County, and the store itself has long been a beloved Seaside institution. But the first step of the renovations—a complete overhaul of the building’s interior—was delayed by challenges related to the building’s age: Once workers started removing the asbestos-laden flooring tiles, the rebar underneath was laid out haphazardly, meaning workers couldn’t use a concrete saw to cut in a straight line for fear of damaging the building’s structural integrity—the work had to be done painstakingly by hand. In August 2023, the project’s architect, Oswaldo Mejia, told the Weekly he expected construction would start soon, and take six to eight months. But Seaside City Attorney Sheri Damon, who Mejia previously told the Weekly has been a big help moving the project forward, says a building permit was recently pulled for reconstructing the store’s interior. Among the changes, the taqueria will be moved to the entrance. But given that permits expire after one year, the clock has started. One challenge, she says based off her conversations with Mejia, is getting the ducks in a row for each step of the renovation, so that various contractors and appliances are ready. According to Damon, Mejia is still refining the outside plans, which include an overhaul of the parking lot, and that those plans have not yet been submitted to the city. Taco Sunrise Long delayed, the renovation of Mi Tierra in Seaside shows new signs of life. By David Schmalz Fans of home renovation shows know it happens sometimes: a homeowner wants to renovate and then—surprise—the house is in such bad shape it might make more sense to tear it down and start over. It was just such an unpleasant surprise Carmel residents experienced in January, when a Carmel City Council subcommittee reported that the town’s police station—more than 55 years old and previously thought to only need a reno job costing a couple of million dollars—was “no longer suitable for occupancy by any police department,” according to a consulting firm. A preliminary estimate for a new building is $20 million. Anger was the response after subcommittee members Mayor Dave Potter and Councilmember Jeff Baron shared the report from Davisbased consultant Indigo Hammond + Playle Architects, along with their own findings in a meeting on Jan. 8, including their recommendation that the city build a new facility on city-owned land, possibly Vista Lobos park, just up the street from the existing station on Junipero Street. “All of a sudden you’re talking about a new police station? You’re talking about $20 million? You’re talking about putting it here? And not putting it there?” a man complained to Potter and Baron during a contentious subcommittee meeting on Feb. 1. “That tells me you need public input, you need sunlight, you need people involved,” the man said. “We didn’t do public outreach first, that’s on us,” Baron says of the residents’ reaction. He and Potter, along with city staff, came to the conclusion that a new facility might be the best option after touring the station with the consultants and reading the report, issued in October. The building is worn out, all agreed, including major systems like plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It also must meet Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, as well as modern codes for fire protection and seismic activity. More space is needed to accommodate modern law enforcement needs, including increased security. “The building couldn’t really be band-aided and put back together,” says Baron. Fixing the facility for non-police uses could cost nearly $11 million, according to Indigo. A more precise estimate isn’t possible until the city figures out what else the building could be used for—it adjoins the Public Works facility, which is also in need of renovations. The city has known for years that the police building was in need of repairs and upgrades, but debates over how much was needed to be done and whether to include an addition delayed decisions. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the project was sidelined due to budget cuts. The council picked it back up in December 2022, but by then it had “become a bad project,” Baron says. The council decided to start over. In February 2023, they voted to hire a consulting firm with expertise in law enforcement facilities. Potter says he is arranging to take a group of interested residents on a tour of the station, followed by a tour of the Salinas Police Services Headquarters, opened in March 2020. That facility replaced Salinas’ original police station, built in 1958. “I think that will give them a good comparison,” Potter says. He expects another meeting of the subcommittee by the end of February. After delayed decisions on the future of the Carmel Police Station, the dated structure has “become a bad project.” Fixer Upper Opinions clash in Carmel over whether to renovate or replace the town’s police station. By Pam Marino The redesign of Mi Tierra’s interior now has the sign-off of Seaside officials. While that work is being done, plans for an exterior remodel are being finalized. “The building couldn’t be band-aided.” nic coury Daniel Dreifuss