Karen Jernigan

Welcome to our 29th version of King City’s Beautification Week, June 19-27, 2021. If you are ready to leave behind your Covid-19 mask, then let me recommend the fresh air and exercise you get by picking an outdoor project to beautify your home or office.

Some of you already took advantage of quarantine time to do home improvements. Good for you! The changes outside can bring a smile to everyone who passes your property and sees fresh paint and healthy flowers.

For the past 29 years, the King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture has annually sponsored Beautification Week, an effort to improve the appearance of the town by asking everyone who lives and works here to do one thing to preserve the beauty of this place.

This year, as in the past, the event is co-sponsored by the City of King, Waste Management, Salinas Valley Recycles and King City in Bloom. When you drive through King City, what changes do you notice since this time last year?


I love the new entry “Welcome to King City” sign on South First Street at King City Veterinary Hospital. It matches our sign at San Antonio Drive and Broadway Circle and is seen by everyone who exits Highway 101 at First Street. It really is the gateway to our town, not to mention a great way to the east and west sides of Pinnacles National Park, as proclaimed in the vinyl mural on the side of Trevino’s Chevron.

And speaking of Trevino’s, they installed new concrete around their station to welcome and serve travelers.

We have a beautiful building on north Second Street with the addition nearly complete for Hartnell College.

On the 300 block of Broadway, it’s great to see progress continue on what was the old Vendome Hotel. Once the bulb-out area in the mid-block can be used for dining, it will create another inviting feature in the heart of our downtown. I also was recently admiring the young Musashino Zelkova trees that are maturing on that block.

Carmen Moya at Moya’s Hair Salon used Covid conditions to remodel her business inside and out at 511 Broadway.

A block father down, there have been improvements at the Monarch Inn, former home of the Sage Motel. The tall, rusted MOTEL sign has been removed and a new concrete wall has been installed. I’m hopeful improvements will continue there.

Next door at Sun Street Centers, the landscaping has matured and is beautifully maintained. Stop and admire the mural facing South Mildred Avenue with its vibrant colors of flowers and butterflies. With the demolition of the old house beside their building, watch for more structural improvements in the months ahead.

Just down the street on North Mildred Avenue, watch for the landscaping that will accompany the new Career Technical Education building at King City High School. This modern, metal structure is a state-of-the-art building by Otto Construction. It is scheduled to include landscaping with plants that are drought-resistant and to incorporate roses that were planted 25 years ago by local Girl Scouts.

Our beautiful King City Cemetery continues to be an oasis for birds, people and historic trees. A stroll through the grounds will reveal a project underway to apply labels that display the names and origin of the trees.


Projects by King City in Bloom continue to enliven and highlight areas of town that once sprouted weeds and dirt.

It has been wonderful to watch the evolution of the King City Library entrance. The new sign at the King City Golf Course is surrounded by river rock and trees. The animal scene on Canal Street across from Carl’s Jr. charms us with its metal art. The Recreation Center landscaping now gives us something we can be proud of when the building is used by our youth and rented for parties.

I hope more people in town will continue to make use of what are referred to as “Greenfield Potatoes.” These stones that are a nemesis to farmers in their fields make great dry creek bed effects. Just look at the front of the Monterey County Dance Theatre building at the northeast corner of Bassett Street and Vanderhurst Avenue, or check out the landscaping at the Department of Motor Vehicles office (DMV) at Metz Road and San Antonio Drive for another great display.

Next door to the DMV office in our industrial park area, the new Santa Maria Seed building looks great and I expect that the new Monterey-Salinas Transit building will be a nice addition to our town once its maintenance facility is completed. The new Mesa Del Rey Airport sign has been an improvement for the entrance to our airport.

It seems very appropriate that the third King City in Bloom mural is scheduled to be completed during Beautification Week. Located at Broadway and Franciscan Way next to Castro’s Bakery, the mural features our red barns from the Salinas Valley Fair and the cattle brands of local ranches. Our town owes a debt of gratitude to King City High School graduate Jennifer Beebe Hargrove for sharing her artistic talent with us and the students who have helped her transform blank walls into beautiful scenery.


In our residential areas, there are many noticeable improvements.

I smile every time I drive by 520 Bassett St., where Tom Salcido has once again purchased property and done major renovations. This home, originally built by Dr. Dorus Brumwell, was at one time the nicest house in town, but over the years had fallen into disrepair and neglect. Now divided into three apartments, the beauty of this building has been preserved with major reconstruction, turf and landscaping.

For an excellent display of drought-resistant landscaping that is a work of art, check out 406 North Mildred Ave. I marvel at that place on my drives through town. It’s design requires no water and that is a smart thing in this drought era.

Just down Willow Street from there, the front of the Riverview Gardens development has an entrance that the homeowners can be proud of.   

So, what have you seen around town that makes you proud to live here?

I am always impressed with the variety of colors that I see in town … bright red bougainvillea, light blue plumbago, purple blossoms on Jacaranda trees (check out the one across from the KCHS auditorium and at the corner of Luckett and Seventh streets), the roses in front of Donut King and 7-11, the orange and multicolored varieties of lantana at the Speedway gas near the stoplight at Broadway and San Antonio Drive, and the Happy Chappy roses in the planter of the electronic sign on Broadway at King City High School.


We also know that when we drive around town, we see things that tell us there is more work to be done. Some yards are nothing but dirt and weeds. Others have buildings with peeling paint and dilapidated fences. So there is room for improvement, and that happens when owners and residents commit to make annual upgrades to their property. It can also happen when neighbors and clubs offer to hold work projects to help those who need an extra boost.

I believe the city should require owners of apartment complexes to hire professional gardeners to keep their property up to a certain standard. For too long out-of-town landowners have been allowed to extract money from renters without re-investing some of that money into maintenance that benefits the tenants.

Beautification Week is scheduled for one week of the year, but maintenance of our properties is really a year-around effort. Whether you are an owner, a renter or a person who works here, please join in this year by picking a project for Beautification Week to be a part of this effort to make King City the best it can be.

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