Don't Change the Basic Policies of the GPU
June 5, 2002
Monterey County Planning Commission
Salinas, CA 93902
RE: 21st Century Monterey County General Plan Update (GPU).
Dear Chairperson Parsons and Members of the Commission:
The "public input"portion of the Planning Commission's consideration of the Draft GPU is now coming to an end. The Commission will soon begin deliberating on the draft document, and will be making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on changes to the draft.
LandWatch urges your Commission strongly to recommend a plan to the Board that completely complies with and carries out the twelve guiding objectives adopted by both the Commission and the Board of Supervisors last year. These twelve guiding objectives are found on pages I-5 and I-6 of the Draft GPU. They call for the County General Plan to:
new growth into areas already committed to an urban level of development,
and strongly to discourage new subdivisions in rural areas.
encourage new commercial, industrial and residential development
to provide actual, new, permanently affordable living quarters.
Promote, preserve and support agriculture and the industries that
support it (which is different from supporting the desire of large
agricultural landowners to be able to develop their land for non-agricultural
purposes, so as to be able to realize maximum profit from the
development of such agricultural land).
adequate infrastructure and public services for existing residents
and businesses, and ensure that infrastructure and public services
are available, fully funded and constructed concurrently with
strong protections for the natural resources of Monterey County.
- Provide the policy foundation for a permit process that will provide greater certainty to project applicants and the public alike, and that will simplify the review of projects that are consistent with the General Plan.
These policies are the "heart and soul"of the GPU. By and large, the draft document you are considering achieves these purposes. While changes in the draft GPU will certainly be necessary, we believe that there is no good reason to make changes that would contradict or undermine the basic objectives outlined above. As the Commission does consider changes to the draft GPU, here are a number of concerns that we hope the Commission will address:
population numbers utilized in the GPU should be consistent with
and based on AMBAG population projections.
relating to the proposed "wine corridors"should be modified
to insure that the growth inducing and other impacts of the proposal
new freeways should be eliminated from the plan.
Circulation Element should be conformed to the requirements of
The Noise Element should be conformed to the requirements of state
housing policies should be included, better to achieve the guiding
objectives on housing cited above.
- Better protections for oak woodlands and for the unique Monterey Pine Forest should be included.
I have listened attentively to the public testimony received by the Commission, and have reviewed a number of the important written commentaries filed during the public hearing process. For instance, I have paid particular attention to the report of J. Laurence Mintier, a respected planning consultant, which is quite critical of the draft plan.
In my opinion, a number of the "negative"comments submitted by Mr. Mintier and others make good points. Nothing in any of the negative comments, however, requires that the "heart and soul"of this General Plan be discarded. Concerns raised should be addressed; inconsistencies should be eliminated; errors should be corrected. This can all be done while completely maintaining the commitment contained in this draft General Plan to the twelve guiding objectives that call for a "new direction" in planning for Monterey County.
New and unprecedented pressures for growth confront Monterey County. We need a strong plan for the next twenty years that can withstand these pressures, and that will protect not only our natural resources, but also the incredibly productive agricultural lands that are at the foundation of our local economy.
Please don't capitulate to those who ask you to abandon the "heart and soul"of the GPU. Make the changes you need to accomplish those objectives, not to discard them!