For more than 35 years the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been paying $1 a year for rent. That might soon change.
On Tuesday night, the Monterey City Council voted 3-2 to hire an appraiser to evaluate the land.
Several residents spoke against the appraisal, asking why the city wants to spend $31,000 of the tideland fund, but Monterey City Manager Mike McCarthy says the lease agreement allows the city to perform rent review.
"Our lease with the aquarium for the tidelands requires a review on the rent," McCarthy said.
One dollar per year is all the State Lands Commission wanted when the aquarium first asked to build on the tidelands in 1981.
"Overall, we are a nonprofit institution organized for state-wide public benefit. And the commission determined, therefore indeed it's consistent with the purpose of the use of the tideland, and only a nominal dollar a year was necessary," said Barbara Meister of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
This is first time in 35 years the city council is looking into that price, and the aquarium doesn't really see the point.
“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,” Meister said. “While they may go forward and do the appraisal, we expect there will not be much value there."
Despite the opposition, the city is moving forward with an appraisal.
"I think information is important. The council will get the information and make a decision based on that information. So, there is a good value there, if they don't adjust the lease, I wouldn't say is nothing,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, I say there is a good value."
The city says the value of the aquarium to the community won't be overlooked.
"Of course, there is a variety of interest that the great benefit the aquarium brings to the city and the region. The council will certainly take that into effect when they look at the cost and the value,” McCarthy said.