MARINA, Calif. - Budget cuts are causing one Central Coast city to cancel a nationally recognized event, leaving an empty spot where police usually connect with the community.
Marina is putting the brakes on its National Night Out, which would have happened next week.
The event is usually held in the Seacrest Plaza parking lot on Reservation Road on the first Tuesday in August. The city said the parking lot is typically filled with families, local law enforcement and nonprofits, all coming together for crime prevention. But this year, the lot will be empty.
"We knew it was somewhere safe, we knew it was put on by the police department, so we enjoyed that, we enjoyed being a part of the community," said Kristina Sandoval, a local mother.
Sandoval said her 6-year-old son is going to be disappointed he won't get the chance to interact with police officers and fire fighters this summer.
It's something they've done as a family for the past few years.
"Highway Patrol, rangers - my son got to play on their equipment," said Sandoval.
"It's really sad. It's always a fun event. There's lots of activities. We have a dunk booth every year and of course the kids get a kick out of that, dunking their favorite police officer or council member," said Marina council woman Nancy Amadeo.
Amadeo knows Sandoval's son isn't the only one who will be bummed. It's the one night of the year where crime prevention is nationally recognized.
Marina Police Chief Edmundo Rodriguez said the police department hasn't had funding for six positions it needs over the past two years. He hopes the upcoming election will bring in more tax dollars to help with the city's $800,000 shortfall.
"It's our hope that over the next few years, in the short term, we will be able to bring our budget into the black and bring back some of these positions that we've unfunded," Chief Rodriguez said.
NewsChannel 5 asked Chief Rodriguez if this means more cuts to vital programs for kids.
"Programs like the PAL program are supported by donations and fundraising and none of the funds that are used to operate that program come from the city's general fund budget," Chief Rodriguez said.
Sandoval said as a parent, she understands everyone is tightening their belts to make ends meet. But she's still sad to see it canceled.
The Marina Police Department is recommending some other local National Night Out events next Tuesday. The Monterey County Sheriff's Department will have two locations, one in Castroville and another one in Carmel. The Seaside Police Department will also hold its own event.