The Salinas Plan: Creating a Blueprint for Fiscal Sustainability and Housing Affordability

Through a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the National Resource Network has partnered with cities to provide long-term financial planning. In 2018, the Network returned to Salinas, California, to anaylize the city's finances and develop recommendations to leverage its tremendous assets, while addressing some of the city's pressing challenges.

With a growing population, increasing home values, and a strong and growing agricultural/AgTech economy, Salinas is poised for opportunity. Salinas also faces significant challenges related to a growing structural budget gap, high poverty rates and occurrences of violent crimes, and over 1,000 residents who go to sleep every night without a roof over their head.

If the City does nothing, it will run out of reserves by FY23 and will face a cumulative deficit of $63.1 million over the next ten years. Overcrowded housing and homelessness will continue to worsen, and Salinas will become even more unaffordable for its current residents.

To tackle these challenges, the City needs a plan for fiscal stability to ensure it has the resources needed to provide opportunities for prosperity, safety and quality of life for all residents, and to meet the glaring challenges of unsafe housing conditions while also creating more than 4,000 new units of affordable housing over the next decade, if possible.

This Salinas Plan calls for the City to make difficult decisions to accomplish the following: balance the General Fund budget; free up the resources needed to invest in infrastructure; provide a stronger fiscal foundation for the future service of municipal employees; and position Salinas to boldly take advantage of new Federal and State initiatives designed to create thousands of units of new affordable housing. This Plan will require the City to identify its key priorities and adopt a new approach to service delivery. It will also require sacrifices from both City workers and taxpayers, and the City must work to establish and strengthen its partnerships within the community. As a result of these efforts, this Plan strives to provide a path for a safer, more prosperous Salinas that is able to efficiently deliver basic services, maintain an effective and stable government, and truly provides opportunities to all residents.

Network consortium members PFM and Enterprise Community Partners led this engagement, with support from Marquez Community Strategy.