Karen Jernigan

The year 2020 finds us with a Beautification Week unlike we’ve had in 28 years. We’re calling it a scaled-back version. Group events like the extra garbage collection provided by Waste Management, the Citywide Yard Sale and the Chamber/Rotary Kick-off BBQ were all canceled this year because of the conditions brought on by the coronavirus. But, that doesn’t mean beautification efforts have stopped.

In fact, staying at home and having most events canceled has given people some extra time to experience their surroundings at home and in our town. It has been great to see many of you fixing up your yards and your homes. It is all testimony to the fact that our surroundings matter and they affect how we feel. When our property looks nice, we feel better about the world, and our neighbors benefit too.

So the King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture hopes everyone in town will think again about what they can do to improve the appearance of your property all the while staying within recommended health guidelines for social distancing and good hygiene. It might even be an opportunity to take family for a drive around town and just see what you can see. I’ve been doing that and appreciating many of the efforts people have made to create beautiful surroundings with landscaping and paint and repairs.

Let me just mention a few things that have transpired since Beautification Week last year.

At 232 Broadway, at the northeast corner of Third Street, home of California Gourmet Pizza, I was pleased to see paint being added to the dark trim paint to the windows in the historic “Wells Fargo” building, a treasure in our town since 1917.

The Cork and Plough restaurant midway down the north side of the 300 block of north Broadway got lovely new striped awnings.

The old Reel Joy Theatre building at 219 Broadway has new paint and is the home of La Barata Meat Market. This building has been around since 1924.

The 300 block of Broadway continues to make progress with the renovation of the old Vendome Hotel at 320 Broadway. Many of us are hopeful that once the coronavirus passes, that someday we will be able to enjoy outdoor dining in front of that place. Owners Chris Davis, Chris Madson and Jerry Rava Jr. are making a major contribution to the downtown by restoring this historic treasure. Apartments will provide living accommodations upstairs with locations for retail below.

Across the street at 315 Broadway, on the south side next to El Pueblo Market, is another beautiful mural compliments of King City in Bloom and the amazing artist Jennifer Beebe Hargrove and her helpers. Jennifer, a King City High School graduate, continues to return to our town to bring beauty and history via paint. The mural shows a history of King City agriculture.

The Garcia Clothing and Jewelry building at 325 Broadway on the south side of Broadway looks more like it did 100 years ago. The old façade was removed and the original design restored using vintage photographs from the era when the building held Johnson’s Garage. Former county supervisor, the late Paul Talbott, was responsible for having that structure built. I especially like how the owners added new tile to the front of the building.

I was very happy to see the demolition of the old gas station building at the northeast corner of Broadway and Vanderhurst Avenue. The City of King has acquired this lot and has plans for a downtown plaza with a small park. The castle-like building behind it at 110 North Vanderhurst is in the planning stages to be renovated into a King City Visitor and History Center. This building was once the home of Jo’s Flower Shoppe, Benadom Meat Lockers and was originally The Rustler newspaper when it was built in 1931. City budget cuts created by the consequences of the coronavirus are slowing this progress, but plans are still on the drawing board. Meanwhile, I think the cleared-off lot is an improvement over the dilapidated structure that was there.

On the 500 block of Broadway, Wells Fargo Bank on the northwest corner of Russ Avenue got a new paint job in the last year and it looks nice, as usual. Mechanics Bank, on that same block at the north east corner of San Lorenzo Avenue, got new awnings and signs reflecting their new name after the buyout of Rabobank.

Sun Street Centers at the southeast corner of Broadway and Mildred continues to be such an improvement to our town. The landscaping continues to fill out and the colors of the shrubs are striking, especially the yellow junipers. For the work they do to improve people’s lives and the beauty they have brought to a run-down building, Sun Street Centers is an asset to our town. I hope more people will follow their lead and add wind art to celebrate our Salinas Valley wind.

The 600 block of Broadway has seen the transformation of International Tire into the former Krehbiel Automotive Repair building at 715 Broadway. Next door, Castro’s Surf and Turf at 721 Broadway is attracting more customers with their delicious food. This building was formerly the home of the Vietnam Restaurant and Moody’s Pizza.

On the 700 block I’m enjoying the roses in front of the Donut King. There was a major transformation to the King City High School campus with the installation of solar panels in the parking lot providing shade and power. Signs on the campus indicate the changes are coming there in the next year for the addition of a Career Training Education building and other renovations made possible through bond measures passed last year. Whenever I see the lawns nicely mowed and edged at the high school campus, I am pleased by that.

Farther down west Broadway, the King City Cemetery is looking especially nice thanks to the work of Jose Galindo, Joseph Kerr and Victor Chavez. If you haven’t driven through lately, I recommend it just to see the amazing trees and beautiful lawn. As a young girl once remarked, “It is the most beautiful garden in King City.”

There are a few other touches that I think have enhanced our town.

One is the change to diagonal parking. From the moment that was implemented, I felt an increase in activity in our downtown, not to mention that it seemed easier to get a parking spot at the post office and in other places. 

Another is the addition of city planters with colorful flowers. Members of the King City in Bloom group help maintain those and the color is inspiring, just like what we see at the area in front of the city library.

In other parts of town, I’m pleased to see good things happening at:

  • All Temp Refrigeration on South First Street near the intersection of Lonoak Road with their new construction.
  • The renovation of landscaping at the Recreation Center at the corner of South Vanderhurst and Division. This is another King City in Bloom project in cooperation with the City.
  • The enlargement of Hartnell College at the corner of Second Street and Lynn. Having a college in our historic downtown will bring vitality to our city. The two-story addition will also provide advanced learning and opportunities for our youth.
  • The recently completed water tank mural at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds painted by Jennifer Beebe Hargrove and Hannah Stuercke on South San Lorenzo Avenue near Division Street.

Last year I was reading about some of the recommendations I made to keep the town improving. I’d like to repeat them again this year:

  • I recommend that the Sage Motel take down or refurbish their rusty sign.
  • I recommend that the Post Office get rid of weeds, peeling paint and dirty signs to become a facility we can be proud of.
  • I recommend that the Kirk buildings on the north side of the 300 block of Broadway complete their fire damage repairs from four years ago and find tenants with viable businesses to fill their empty stores.
  • I recommend that the owners of the Starbucks shopping center, known as The Forum, finally fill the vacancies that have been there for years.
  • I recommend that the owners of the Queen Motel at 702 South First St. commit to having nice lawn and flowers so that those entering our town on South First Street are pleased by what they see there.
  • I’d like to see Komfort Court at 935 Broadway provide beautiful landscaping to their small stretch of land as well as the trailers that reside there.

Next year I’m hopeful that we can return to the usual beautification activities. I am grateful to Waste Management for continuing to include flyers about beautification in their spring bills so that every household in King City has an opportunity to know how the actions of each person can bring improvement to the town.  

So, what will you do to be part of Beautification Week? Whether you are a renter, a homeowner or work in a business here, please consider picking a project to improve the appearance of our town, now or in the future. Beautification needs to be a year-around focus.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.

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