State Budget Allocates Over $20 Million to Central Coast Priorities

Advocacy by State Sen. Laird Ensures Funding for Numerous Vital Projects



June 30, 2023

Contact: Justin Tran


SACRAMENTO – State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) announced over $20 million has been secured in the 2023-2024 state budget in the 17th District. This important funding for Central Coast communities addresses disaster recovery efforts, services for underserved populations, advances climate change priorities, and more.


“While California faces another difficult budget year, it is heartening to be able to secure funding for numerous important projects that will assist in securing and improving our quality of life,” said State Sen. Laird. “Senior assistance, homeless services, disaster recovery, and climate change planning and mitigation are a few of the areas we are able to tackle throughout the Central Coast.”


Budget allocations secured by Sen. Laird include funds that will benefit farmworkers who were severely impacted by the storms in January and March, support the repair of vital infrastructure such as our dams, levees, wharfs, and creeks to ensure future accessibility and flood resilience, as well as, support wildfire prevention through the removal of invasive species, and introduction of native species to our natural landscape.



· Railroad Grade Separations - $1,000,000 appropriated to the City of Morgan Hill to grade separate all crossings to help maintain adequate response times for emergency personnel and increase safety for pedestrian and bicycle access.


· Gateway Senior Apartments - $350,000 appropriated to the City of Gilroy to help address accessibility gaps by providing safe pedestrian access through their Safe Routes to School initiative.



· Debris Diverter: Stockton Avenue Bridge - $500,000 appropriated to the City of Capitola for the construction of an angled debris fin to direct debris to the larger openings of the bridge to stop accumulation under the bridge and open up waterways and prevent flood disasters.


· West Cliff Drive Recovery and Resilience - $1 million appropriated to the City of Santa Cruz to assist in resiliency beyond the recovery phase to support a West Cliff coastal recreation and tourism corridor that is equitable and accessible to all.


· Storm Relief for Immigrants – $750,000 appropriated to serve 250 North Monterey County (Pajaro) and 150 Santa Cruz County vulnerable farm workers, day workers and indigenous language speaking families who were heavily storm impacted.



· Palenke Arts Multicultural Arts Center - $1 million appropriated to help fund the creation of a LEED Certified Multicultural Arts Center at the Seaside High School campus.


· Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf - $84,000 appropriated to the City of Monterey for lighting and bollard improvements at Fisherman’s Wharf, to provide more accessibility and a safer causeway for residents and tourists.


· Marina Senior Center – $1 million appropriated to the City of Marina for the construction of a new senior center to help ensure a safe, healthy, and affordable program where all seniors can participate.


· Carmel River Flood Study - $230,000 appropriated to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to fund a study to update the FEMA hydrologic model of the Carmel River to evaluate alternative mitigation measures and other maintenance options to help prevent future flooding incidents.


· Wildfire Prevention and Eucalyptus Removal - $1,000,000 appropriated to the County of Monterey to create a pilot project where funds would be matched with property owners’ funds to remove problematic eucalyptus and restore native vegetation to assist in fire control and support local biodiversity.



· ECHO Permanent Dining Facility– $150,000 appropriated to El Camino Homeless Organization for the creation of a permanent dining structure for the unhoused that will serve dinner to 80-100 individuals a night.


· Arroyo Grande Creek Levee – $1.236 million appropriated to the County of San Luis Obispo to help offset the repair costs of the levee system, including a breach on the south side. In turn, this will help protect the disadvantaged community of Oceano from losing its critical infrastructure such as the wastewater treatment plant and regional airport.


· Wildlife Baseline Assessment for Morro Bay Wind Energy - $150,000 appropriated to the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences to conduct an initial baseline assessment of the biological/wildlife/ecosystem conditions in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area to inform decision making on offshore wind development.


· City of Morro Bay Storm Drain Replacement - $300,000 appropriated to the City of Morro Bay to repair 150 linear feet of failed corrugated metal pipe to enhance flood control in this storm-damaged region.


· Salinas Dam Feasibility Study - $500,000 appropriated to the County of San Luis Obispo to help conduct feasibility analysis regarding ownership, retrofit, and possible expansion of the Salinas Dam, to secure future water supplies.


· Offshore Wind Development Support - $750,000 appropriated to the County of San Luis Obispo for staffing resources to fully support offshore wind development according to the state’s ambitious deployment goals.


Earlier this year, President Biden visited Capitola and was witness to the devastation, in particular, the damage caused to the Capitola Wharf, which has been closed off to the public ever since. This budget provides funding to the City of Capitola to improve the coastal resiliency of the Wharf to ensure its continued access.


· Capitola Wharf Resiliency - $500,000 to the City of Capitola to aid in the repairs and resilience of the Capitola Wharf.


Additionally, as a key leader in the ongoing discussions regarding the future of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Senator Laird has helped secure $10 million, which is divided into two $5 million appropriations to ensure a pathway towards conservation, public access, and economic development:


· $5 million shall be allocated to the California State Coastal Conservancy for the development of a conservation easement across the 12,000 Diablo Canyon Lands, as well as to map future coastal and interior public trail locations, conduct public and tribal outreach, and undertake tasks in anticipation of the transfer to State Parks the 2400-acre unit of Diablo Canyon Lands known as Wild Cherry Canyon.


· $5 million shall be allocated to support planning for the reuse and redevelopment of the 600-acre Parcel P on the plant site, for regional economic development and clean energy projects.


Lastly, as Chair of the higher education budget subcommittee, Senator Laird strongly supported no cuts or delays to the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program. Cabrillo College's intersegmental project with the University of California, Santa Cruz was selected to receive state support in the 2023-24 round of the program for $111,787,000.


The budget has been approved by both houses of the Legislature and awaits the signature of Governor Newsom for final approval. Further details regarding disbursement will be determined following the Governor’s signature. 


Senator John Laird represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, the majority of Monterey County, as well as parts of Santa Clara County. He previously served as the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board, a member of the State Assembly, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Aids Project, and two terms as Santa Cruz Mayor. As one of the first openly gay mayors in the United State, Senator Laird has dedicated his life to social justice, environmental advocacy, sound government, and public service. Senator Laird has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz with his spouse John Flores.