Democracy in Monterey Under Attack

January 3rd, 2007, in a 4 to 1 decision, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved GPU4. We must stop this “sprawl now, pay-later" plan from becoming the law of the land. To understand why GPU4 is so bad, please see our summary below.

LandWatch and other community groups are launching a campaign to overturn the Board’s approval. To be successful, 9,000 registered Monterey County must sign the referendum petition by January 31st.

Don’t be fooled by the Board’s promise to put GPU4 on the ballot in June. The radical "growth-at-any-cost" majority of the Board intends to make GPU4 the law and cement the approval of Rancho San Juan and other horrendous developments before the citizens have a chance to vote. In the past, the Board has promised to let the voters to decide projects such as Butterfly Village, only to change their minds when it was clear the voters would reject the projects.

The Board also seeks to gain an advantage by submitting GPU4 to voter repeal. A “yes" vote on an appeal measure would be a vote against GPU4 and a “no" vote would be a vote in favor of GPU4! The Board is deliberately seeking an unfair advantage in the way it has offered to put the measure on the ballot.Our referendum will supercede the Board’s cynical action. When our petitions force GPU4 to the ballot, “yes" will mean yes and “no" will mean no, and their confusing measure will not be placed on the ballot at all,

I hope you can attend our meeting on January 17 to sign our petition and hear an update on the campaign. If you cannot attend the meeting, please contact Paula Lotz at She can tell you about other petition-signing events in your area. It would be even better if you will help Paula coordinate a petition-signing event of your own.

The petition is several hundred pages long, which precludes distribution of petitions among many volunteer circulators. That means we have to gather members together so that we can bring the petitions to them.

Monterey County voters must decide their own future! We must not allow out-of-county developers and their attorneys to achieve their interests at the expense of the vast majority of Monterey County residents. GPU4 encourages the worst kind of San Jose-style junkyard development. We can stop it, and the first step is signing the No on GPU4 Referendum petition.

Chris Fitz, Executive Director
LandWatch Monterey County
Nine Reasons to Sign the No on GPU4 Referendum Petition1. GPU4 doesn't protect the right of Monterey County voters to decide their own future
GPU4 lacks any provision for allowing Monterey County voters to have a direct role in approving large-scale developments that will impact the quality of their lives. The County Board of Supervisors spent 7 years and $7 million developing four different versions of the general plan update. GPU4 fails to address critical public concerns about the location, density, and level of growth in the County. It's time to let the voters have control over their own destiny. [Can also be posed as a question: Why shouldn't an update to Monterey County's General Plan protect the right of Monterey County voters to decide their own future?]

2. GPU4 represents the interests of out-of-county developers and their attorneys, not the general public.
Over the past 7 years, out-of-county developers and their attorneys ceaselessly lobbied the Board of Supervisors and showered them with campaign contributions. In the end, these special interests got the plan they paid for.

3. GPU4 encourages the worst kind of San Jose-style junkyard development.
GPU4 allows for more than 18,000 new residential units in 7 community areas, 9 rural centers, 16 special treatment areas, and 8 study areas — all outside of cities. This level of growth exceeds AMBAG’s 2030 housing forecast for unincorporated areas by 22%.

4. GPU4 is a "sprawl-now, pay-later" plan. It will result in higher taxes, poorer public services (including police and fire), or both.
By promoting excessive growth, GPU4 worsens existing road, water overdraft and other infrastructure problems. The County already has a huge economic backlog of un-funded infrastructure projects. The additional traffic and sprawl allowed under GPU4 will increase these costs. The only way to pay for these costs will be to increases taxes or take revenues from other sources.

Unfunded infrastructure projects include:


The estimated cost of road improvements to bring existing conditions to LOS C is about $3.2 billion (BAE Report). The estimated cost of meeting a LOS D standard is $280 million (BAE Report).

Needed road improvements for the next 30 years total almost $2.4 billion. Only $67 million has been identified as being available for these projects (2005 RTP)
Meeting water supply, water quality and flood control needs (Monterey County Water Resource Agency, BAE Report)
An Army Corps of Engineers project to address flood control in the Pajaro areas (BAE Report)
Desalination plant for Monterey Peninsula (construction only)
Distribution system for Salinas Valley Water Project required by 2030, no mitigation costs included
Economic loss of agricultural land conversion for Rancho San Juan alone

5. GPU4 will worsen already congested and unsafe roads.
GPU4 includes no concrete plans to improve county roads in conjunction with the 18,000 new, ill-planned residential units. Under GPU4 daily vehicle miles traveled would increase by at least 460,000 trips or about 65% over the year 2000 travel. As a result, by 2030. In order to prevent gridlock, taxpayers will be forced to make huge investments in roads and other infrastructure outside of urban areas.

6. GPU4 fails to address critical housing needs.
GPU4 only requires that developers provide 20% affordable housing in Community Areas and Rural Centers, and this housing will not be permanent, creating a never-ending treadmill for new affordable housing. Additionally, by allowing low-density sprawl, development will be less likely to occur in community areas where higher density, more affordable housing could be built.

7. GPU4 will destroy at least 5,500 acres of prime farmland.
The Salinas Valley is a critical resource, not just to Monterey County but also to the entire State of California. As Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman, a fourth-generation rancher, notes, “Each year California’s tremendously fertile farmland is whittled away by development. Ensuring that we keep our farmland in agriculture is vital to the future of our state,"

8. By encouraging low-density sprawl on farmland, GPU4 discourages economic reinvestment of urban areas.
Developments that could help revitalize urban areas such as East Salinas will be drawn to cheap farmland. Likewise, investment funds will go to non-urban areas to support sprawl rather than redevelopment.

9. GPU4 is an environmental disaster.

The EIR identifies the following significant impacts:

As a specific example, GPU4 eliminates the current provision prohibiting cultivation on steep slopes greater than 30% and allows conversion with a permit.

[Return to County Plan Update Issues and Actions]

posted 01.30.07