Karen Jernigan

The transformation of the appearance of King City in the last year has been nothing short of amazing, and I credit much of that to the yearly emphasis of “beautification.”

It was 32 years ago in 1992 that King City began the promotion of Beautification Week in partnership with the King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, King City Rotary Club, Waste Management and the City of King. It was a simple request for everyone who worked and lived here to do one thing to improve the appearance of our town.

Let me outline for you some of the changes I’ve noticed in the last year and why I believe that residents and business people working alongside city government have the ability to transform a city.

Let’s start at the intersection of Broadway, Broadway Circle and San Antonio Drive at the site most of us know as “the street light intersection.”

From here you will see the “Welcome to King City, California” sign that was recently painted. If you go on the freeway, you will see the completed Caltrans project that has widened our King City bridge over the Salinas River making it safer and adding landscaping around the entire Highway 101 project. My favorite part are the stones in the middle of the divider in front of McDonald’s, which formerly was a weed patch.

The nearby underpasses at Broadway and at Canal Street now have metal art that represents the Salinas Valley Fair, Pinnacles National Park, our wine industry and our agriculture fields thanks to a grant from Caltrans.

Nearby at the Chevron Extra Mile Convenience Store there is a nice display of the colorful lantana plants, also found across from the high school at the Mercadito, at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and along the Fireside Inn.

It was a great day a few weeks ago when we started seeing the ground being prepared for Dutch Brothers coffee in the location of the former L.A. Hearne Company retail operation at 1023 Broadway. For 22 years this lot next to our freeway has stood empty but now has the potential for bringing in more freeway business. Grocery Outlet has submitted a building permit application and is expected to begin construction soon. A future hotel is also planned on the back of this lot.


Have you walked through the King City Cemetery lately? It’s a beautiful example of rare trees and shrubs in a park-like setting. Manager Joe Kerr and his assistant, Victor Chavez, are doing a great job of making it a showcase to honor those who have preceded us.

Just last month it was great to see slurry seal road repair at the King City Mobile Home Park (formerly Komfort Court) at 935 Broadway. Slurry seal has also helped improve the Monarch Inn, and there is new pavement at the King Coin Laundromat and Retail on the 800 block of Broadway.

I can never remember a time when the King City High School campus has looked more beautiful with its well-edged turf and grooming. Weekly maintenance and attention to detail give me pride every time I drive by there. It is a showcase in our town. The new electronic sign is also a focal point for the community surrounded by colorful Happy Chappy miniature roses that were planted in memory of long-time music teacher Leon Olson.

Across the street from the school, the Silver Saddle Motel at the corner of South Mildred and Broadway got new grey paint and looks improved.

At 7-11, the store has changed ownership and we should see more improvements in the future.

Just behind 7-11 is the fantastic mural painted by Brenda Scettrini Saglio and Paul Richmond with grants from the Arts Council for Monterey County. Hooray for Mee Memorial Hospital for their vision to create this.

Sun Street Centers at the southeast corner of Mildred and Broadway continues to look nice and features lovely wind art. Residents of Sun Street have been instrumental in helping King City in Bloom volunteers take care of public locations around town, including their attention to the King City Library recently.


Which brings us to the historic district of Broadway, the area from Russ Avenue to First Street.

It is here that we experience the years of planning and work that have been transformed because of the Downtown Streetscape plan. My favorite are the asphalt-imprinted crosswalks that make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street by making the distance shorter and slowing the traffic. 

The landscaping at the corners is appealing. The metal benches make it comfortable for people to sit and visit with people walking down the sidewalks. The tables at Second and Third streets make eating outside more enjoyable, especially during lunch hour when the wind is less active.

Construction is underway for the Downtown Plaza at Vanderhurst and Broadway. This northeast corner once held Vanderhurst Hall back in 1889, built shortly after the train arrived here in 1886. It was a gathering point for the community and will soon be that again. Featuring a gazebo and benches and landscaping, the plaza will sit next to the remodeled 110 North Vanderhurst building that is slated to be the King City Visitor and History Center. Local contractor Paul Tavernetti and his crew are busy at work transforming that structure. Watch for it to be completed this fall.

On our 300 block of Broadway, the Rising Phoenix Tap Room is under construction in the old Vendome Hotel building at 320 Broadway next to Hestia Coffee. Across the street, the El Taquero Deli has opened at 327 Broadway adding to our town’s reputation of having some of the best Mexican food in the state.


Have you noticed the growth of the Zelkova trees on the north side of the 300 block of Broadway? Planted a few years ago, these trees are one of the recommended trees for our town, replacing the messier Magnolias.

Hooray for Kasey and Charlemagne Tertullian for the improvements to 301 Broadway with their new TMC Mercantile Company sign in gold at the top of the building. When the historic building was originally built in 1917, it displayed the sign First National Bank and has been a fixture in our town all these years housing the Bank of Italy, the Bank of America, Bengard Agency and now Bloom Coffee.

Just beyond here we can look forward to an electronic vehicle charging station in the parking lot at 225 Broadway next to Restaurante El Sinaloense. As travelers get off the freeway to charge their vehicles, it is expected they will buy food and walk our sidewalks. That should be good for the economy.

In the medians of the 100 and 200 blocks of Broadway, we have six fantastic new wind art features that symbolize the crops grown in our valley: cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, onions, broccoli and grapes. They are charming and celebrate our abundance of wind.

As you walk down the 200 block of Broadway, you will see that owner Chris Davis has added colored stones to the tree wells in Town Square making for fewer weeds. This block leads to the corner of Second Street, where you can look to the north and see the new Mission San Antonio de Padua mural across the street from Hartnell College. Sponsored by King City in Bloom, it is a tribute to our historic roots going back to 1771. Student artist Gloria Sanchez oversaw its creation.


Other areas off Broadway that are worth mentioning include:

  • The Casa de Milago Farmworker housing for Rava Ranches. It looks amazing at the corner of Bitterwater Road and Chestnut;
  • The new King City Linear Park bike and walking path north of town as part of Nino Homes in their Creekbridge and Mills Ranch developments;
  • The remodeled Expo Building at the Salinas Valley Fair along with landscaping improvements to its entrance on Division Street;
  • New signs at the King City Center for TopCut hair salon, Anytime Fitness and Wescom Credit Union as well as new grey exterior paint at RiteAid;
  • The Shell Food Mart gas station remodel at 601 Canal St. next to Keefer’s Inn; and 
  • The Tesla charging stations at Burger King.

If you look around town, it has been great to see residents using drought resistant landscaping with shrubs and rock to cut down on weeds.

Check out the purple house at 224 Lynn and 303 Collins St. at the corner of Third Street for examples of landscaping that does not use lawn. The bougainvilleas at homes at the corners of Ellis Street and Russ Avenue are captivating. The red and white roses at Spreckels Road and Victoria are lovely and found throughout the Nino Homes subdivisions. The rental homes of Roger Elzey at 423 and 427 South Mildred are an asset to the community.

This year’s Beautification Week runs June 21-30. If each of us does one thing this month to improve the appearance of our home or businesses, we could continue to make progress toward making King City a great place to live. Please do your part and ask your neighbors to join in.

Most of the services one needs for beautification can be found in the landscaping companies and skilled laborers who live here. Please support them.

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