2021 Apr 19, 9:23pm
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Danita Delimont/Getty Images/Gallo ImagesCARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. —How would like you to pay $255 a month to live at Point Lobos? Or $106 monthly to live at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park? The going rates to live on prime real estate in the Monterey District range from $56 to $440 a month.The employee housing program is a longstanding benefit of working for the California State Parks Department. The department has determined that some public property is better served by housing government works than keeping it for public use, but in the Monterey Parks District homes that were given with the expressed purpose of public use have been turned into employee housing.The program offers outrageously low rents to some Parks’ employees ranging from as low as $56 a month to $440 for properties in the Monterey District. The rentals are at great locations too, including units for as low as $241 a month at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and $106 monthly at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.State Parks employees are encouraged to live on the natural resources they protect so that they have access to serving the public at all hours. But some are questioning if the program is better designed to serve government workers than it is the public.Central Coast residents Thad Sigourney and Robert Shroeder brought the issue to the attention of KSBW in 2020 after discovering a location they have a vested interest in was being misused. In 1989 Sigourney’s mother left a family home at 599 Jefferson Street in Monterey to State Parks so that it could be incorporated into Monterey State Historic Park. She envisioned the house being turned into a museum as a monument to the Portuguese fishing community and working-class people who built Monterey.Mary Sigourney’s will clearly outlined how the property should be used and even details keeping the once beautiful gardens open to the public. State Parks never followed through on her wishes.After moving in nearby, Thad Sigourney’s son-in-law Robert Shroeder started looking into why the family home wasn’t open to the public."It was my son-in-law Robert who was living very close to this property that started doing some investigation into it and we found out that it's just been used as a rental this time -- it's never ever been used as what's it was intended for. As a gift," said Sigourney.California State Parks has been using the home near downtown as employee housing, renting it out ironically to a museum curator for $192 a month for the past several years. A small apartment located a block away is listed for $1,625 a month, according to Zillow."The more we found out, the more Robert gave me, the more it looked like this was how the state was running things, at least here in Monterey," said Sigourney.Sigourney's son-in-law collected decade's worth of public record data and the pair contacted a lawyer to see if the situation could be rectified. During his investigation, Shroeder found documents that show just two years after accepting the gift, State Parks turned the home into a rental."The person who actually wrote the plans for how it was supposed to be used was the person who actually moved into the house, and the person who signed off on him moving into the house was his wife," said Schroeder....