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LandWatch Urges Board to Complete the GPU Process

June 7, 2004

The Honorable Lou Calcagno, Chair
Monterey County Board of Supervisors
240 Church Street
Salinas, CA 93901

RE: Proposal To Restart The General Plan Update Process

Agenda of June 8, 2004 – Agenda Item S-20, 2:30 p.m.

Dear Chairperson Calcagno and Board Members:

LandWatch Monterey County has closely reviewed the staff report presented to The Board of Supervisors in connection with the above noted agenda item. Our comments are as follows:

  1. Two weeks ago, three members of the Board voted to “start over" on the General Plan Update process, despite the fact that the present process has taken almost five years so far, and has cost the taxpayers about $5 million dollars.

  2. LandWatch, and virtually every other community organization that has participated in the GPU process, has strongly opposed this decision to “start over."

  3. The Salinas Californian has appropriately called your vote “not leadership…but cowardice."

  4. If the Board actually starts the process over, as outlined in the staff report presented to you as part of your June 8, 2004 agenda, the Board is essentially throwing away approximately five years worth of public participation, and about $5 million dollars of the taxpayers’ money. (A list of most, but probably not all, of the public meetings held on the General Plan Update is attached. We are working with concerned citizens to document in detail the $5 million dollars in expenditures made to date).

  5. The Board has neither time nor money to waste. It can still reconsider its decision to “start over," and we urge the Board to do so.

  6. The only proper course for the Board to take is to direct completion of the Final EIR, set the Planning Commission recommendations for one or more public hearings before your Board, hear from the public, and then take action on the plan, after the Board has heard from all interested persons, and after the Board has reviewed the final environmental document. At that time, the Board can either (1) adopt the plan as recommended by the Planning Commission; (2) amend the plan recommended by the Planning Commission and adopt the amended plan; or (3) direct further changes in the plan. If the Board takes alternative #3, that will probably mean further environmental review and another round of public hearings—but in no case will that process take more time or cost more money than the “start over" strategy that the Board seems poised to execute. This alternative, which is the “normal process," gives the Board full discretion to make whatever policy choices the Board wants.

  7. The “start over" process, as recommended to the Board in the June 8, 2004 staff report, would not only waste the time and money spent to date, it would convert what has been a “public" process into an “insider" process.

  8. The proposal is to have the “staff" decide what public comments are “worthy," and what comments will not be heeded. The staff is not going to make those decisions in public, as the Planning Commission did, and as the Board would have to do, if the Board made the decisions. Rather, the staff will make their choices behind the closed doors of their private offices, and after consulting with whomever they want to consult, including, perhaps, a hand-selected “committee."

  9. LandWatch believes that the General Plan belongs to the public, and that the key decisions must be made in public. We will not participate in an “insider" process. Our comments and contributions, in every case, will be made in the public arena—and we are not going away! We believe that most of the community organizations that have been working for a good General Plan feel exactly the same way we do.

  10. We note that the staff report recommends that the Board discard the “Twelve Guiding Objectives" as the objectives to be achieved by the final General Plan. These objectives (adopted by the Board itself) came out of the extensive public outreach that began the GPU process. There was extremely broad agreement on these objectives, and to abandon them now is a betrayal of the public trust. The Twelve Guiding Objectives set a very rigorous standard, and it appears that the real reason to “start over" may be to provide an excuse to get rid of the “Twelve Guiding Objectives," which mandate, among other things, that the new GPU:

    • Focus new development in existing urban areas, thus reducing the burden on the taxpayers caused by fiscally unsound urban sprawl.

    • Require water and transportation facilities and other public services to be provided prior to or concurrently with new development, so our local communities and local services do not continue to be overwhelmed by new growth.

    • Protect the county’s rural areas by limiting further subdivisions on agricultural and other rural lands.


  11. Instead of the Twelve Guiding Objectives, the staff report recommends that the Board officially state that its “objective" is to “produce a General Plan that … the public can live with." This is not exactly a “high standard." Frankly, we’re “living with" the current General Plan. If “live with" is the standard, the Board does not need to spend another penny of the taxpayers’ money!

  12. The staff report also suggests that the “ultimate objective" should be a plan that will get a “unanimous vote" from the Board of Supervisors. With all deference to the difficulty that Board members experience when they have to stand up in public and be counted, the Board is paid to make the “tough choices" when there is disagreement on fundamental questions. There is fundamental disagreement over what kind of General Plan should guide the future development of Monterey County. Unless the Board finds some way to suppress public comment, the public is going to continue to disagree about these matters (as Board members will probably continue to disagree, too).

  13. The true objective of the GPU process should be for the Board of Supervisors to adopt a General Plan that will guide Monterey County in the right direction for the next twenty years! The Twelve Guiding Objectives made that clear. The “watered down" objectives outlined in the June 8, 2004 staff report suggest that getting a unanimous vote from the Board is more important than making the right decision. We most profoundly disagree.

  14. As outlined in the June 8, 2004 staff report, the “start over" process will cost county taxpayers about $1 million dollars, in addition to the $5 million already spent, and will take about two more years to complete, added on to the four and a half years spent on the process so far. Even if the estimates included in the staff report are correct—and they seem extremely low, based on the county’s experience with the GPU process so far—the total cost for the new General Plan Update will be on the order of $6 million dollars, and the process will have taken almost seven years. We think that is unacceptable.

Since 1999, LandWatch and its members have been participating, in good faith, in the General Plan Update process. Individuals and groups with whom we do not agree on the policy issues have been doing the same. The issues are very clear. There is disagreement about them. There will continue to be disagreement until the Board resolves that disagreement by making its decision. That’s how the democratic process works: first there is debate and discussion, conflict and controversy. Then, there is a decision. That decision can be made by elected representatives, or by the public itself, acting directly through the initiative process.

Elected officials show good faith to the public when they are not afraid to make the tough choices, when, after having heard the debate and discussion, they make the decision that they think it right. That’s your job. “Good faith" is to do it. “Bad faith" is to dodge it. We ask the Board not to dodge its obligations to the citizens and residents of Monterey County, and to the future of this beautiful place.

PS: If the Board adopts the recommendations of the June 8, 2004 staff report, and does decide to “start over" with the General Plan Update process, then we urge the Board to impose an immediate moratorium on any new major development approval in the unincorporated portions of Monterey County, unless and until the Board has finally adopted a new General Plan. The Board’s failure to act on the General Plan Update in a timely way should not benefit the development interests that have been fighting so hard against the GPU. It is the development interests who have asked you to “start over." If the Board heeds their plea, then the Board should have the decency to stop passing upon their development proposals, until you can determine if those proposals conform to the new General Plan.

Monterey County 21st Century General Plan Update Public Outreach

NO. / DATE / EVENT
1. November 16, 1999 Greater Monterey Peninsula Round Table Meeting
2. November 17, 1999 Central Salinas Valley Round Table Public Meeting
3. November 18, 1999 South County Round Table Public Meeting
4. November 29, 1999 Cachagua/Carmel Valley Round Table Public Meeting
5. December 1, 1999 Greater Salinas/Toro Round Table Public Meeting
6. December 2, 1999 North County Round Table Public Meeting
7. December 6, 1999 Big Sur Round Table Public Meeting
8. December 7, 1999 Country-Wide Round Table Public meeting
9. February 22, 2000 Public Meeting - CSUMB
10. February 23, 2000 Carmel Valley Growth Limitations Public Meeting
11. May 15, 2000 Public Meeting – Carrying Capacity
12. June 20, 2000 Public Meeting – Carrying Capacity
13. July 20, 2000 Public Meeting – Carrying Capacity
14. February 6, 2001 Public Meeting - Growth Alternatives -Soledad
15. February 15, 2001 Public Meeting – Growth Alternatives - CSUMB
16. February 21, 2001 Public Meeting - Growth Alternatives -Castroville
17. March 19, 2001 Public Meeting – Salinas Valley LWV
18. May 15, 2001 South County Community Planning Workshop - Vision
19. May 16, 2001 Toro/River Road Community Planning Workshop - Vision
20. May 23, 2001 Carmel Valley Community Planning Workshop - Vision
21. May 31, 2001 North County Community Planning Workshop - Vision
22. June 7, 2001 Del Monte Forest LUAC
23. June 8, 2001 Notice of Preparation of a Draft EIR - Scoping
24. June 11, 2001 Greater Monterey Peninsula –Fort Ord Workshop
25. June 12, 2001 Big Sur/So Coast LUACS
26. June 18, 2001 North County Coastal LUAC
27. June 18, 2001 Carmel Unincorporated - LUAC
28. June 19, 2001 Ag Forum
29. June 20, 2001 North County Non-Coastal LUAC
30. June 20, 2001 Bradley/Parkfield LUAC
31. June 25, 2001 Toro LUAC
32. June 26, 2001 Cachagua LUAC
33. June 28, 2001 Central Salinas LUAC
34. July 10, 2001 South County Community Planning Workshop - Vision
35. July 11, 2001 Central Salinas Valley Community Planning Workshop
36. July 12, 2001 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
37. July 16, 2001 Carmel Valley LUAC
38. July 17, 2001 Carmel Valley Community Planning Workshop - Vision
39. July 18, 2001 North County Non-Coastal LUAC
40. July 18, 2001 Bradley-Parkfield LUAC
41. July 19, 2001 North County Community Planning Workshop - Vision
42. July 19, 2001 Lockwood/Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
43. July 23, 2001 Toro/Greater Salinas Community Planning Workshop
44. July 23, 2001 Toro LUAC
45. July 24, 2001 Big Sur/So Coast LUAC
46. July 28, 2001 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
47. August 1, 2001 Greater Monterey LUAC
48. August 2, 2001 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
49. August 6, 2001 Central Salinas LUAC
50. August 6, 2001 Toro LUAC
51. August 8, 2001 Carmel Valley LUAC
52. August 13, 2001 Lockwood/Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
53. August 14, 2001 Toro LUAC
54. August 15, 2001 Big Sur/South Coast LUAC
55. August 15, 2001 North County Non-Coastal LUAC
56. August 16, 2001 Del Monte Forest LUAC
57. August 20, 2001 North County Coastal LUAC
58. August 20, 2001 Carmel Unincorporated LUAC
59. August 22, 2001 Lockwood/Bryson
60. August 23, 2001 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
61. August 28, 2001 Big Sur/South Coast LUAC
62. August 29, 2001 Carmel Valley LUAC
63. September 4, 2001 North County Coastal LUAC
64. September 4, 2001 Carmel Unincorporated. LUAC
65. September 5, 2001 Greater Monterey LUAC
66. September 10, 2001 Toro LUAC
67. September 12, 2001 Cachagua LUAC
68. September 13, 2001 Del Monte Forest LUAC
69. September 13, 2001 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
70. September 19, 2001 North County Non-Coastal LUAC
71. September 24, 2001 Toro LUAC
72. September 25, 2001 Big Sur/South Coast LUAC
73. September 26, 2001 Lockwood/Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
74. September 27, 2001 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
75. October 1, 2001 North County Coastal LUAC
76. October 1, 2001 Carmel Unincorporated. LUAC
77. October 3, 2001 North County Non-Coastal LUAC
78. October 8, 2001 Toro LUAC
79. October 10, 2001 Lockwood/Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
80. November 5, 2001 North County Coastal LUAC
81. November 7, 2001 Greater Monterey LUAC
82. November 7, 2001 North County - Non-Coastal LUAC
83. November 12, 2001 Toro LUAC
84. November 12, 2001 Toro LUAC
85. December 3, 2001 North County Coastal LUAC
86. December 3, 2001 Carmel Valley LUAC
87. December 12, 2001 Lockwood /Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
88. January 9, 2002 Lockwood /Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
89. January 14, 2002 Carmel Valley LUAC
90. January 23, 2002 Lockwood /Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
91. January 30, 2002 Lockwood /Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
92. February 4, 2002 Carmel Valley LUAC
93. February 4, 2002 North County – Coastal LUAC
94. February 6, 2002 Lockwood /Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
95. February 6, 2002 Greater Monterey LUAC
96. February 6, 2002 North County - Non-Coastal LUAC
97. February 13, 2002 Lockwood- Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
98. February 14, 2002 Central Salinas Valley
99. February 14, 2002 Del Monte Forest LUAC
100. February 19, 2002 North County – Coastal LUAC
101. February 19, 2002 Carmel Highlands/ Unincorporated LUAC
102. February 20, 2002 Bradley/ Parkfield LUAC
103. February 20, 2002 Greater Monterey LUAC
104. February 25, 2002 Carmel Valley LUAC
105. February 25, 2002 Toro LUAC
106. February 26, 2002 Big Sur/ South Coast LUAC
107. February 27, 2002 Cachagua LUAC
108. February 27, 2002 North County - Non-Coastal LUAC
109. February 28, 2002 Del Monte Forest LUAC
110. March 4, 2002 North County – Coastal LUAC
111. March 4, 2002 Carmel Valley LUAC
112. March 4, 2002 Carmel Highlands/ Unincorporated LUAC
113. March 12, 2002 Big Sur/ South Coast LUAC
114. March 12, 2002 Open House – Salinas Valley Fairgrounds
115. March 14, 2002 Open House – International Steinbeck Center
116. March 19, 2002 Open House - CSUMB
117. March 21, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
118. March 28, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
119. April 3, 2002 North County – Non-Coastal LUAC
120. April 4, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
121. April 10, 2002 Cachagua LUAC
122. April 11, 2002 Lockwood/Bryson-Hisperia LUAC
123. April 18, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
124. April 24, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
125. May 2, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
126. May 10, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
127. May 23, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
128. June 10, 2002 Toro LUAC
129. June 11, 2002 Big Sur/ South Coast LUAC
130. June 12, 2002 Cachagua LUAC
131. June 13, 2002 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
132. June 12, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
133. June 17, 2002 Carmel Valley LUAC
134. June 17, 2002 Carmel Highlands/Unincorporated LUAC
135. June 17, 2002 North County Coastal LUAC
136. June 19, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
137. June 26, 2002 Lockwood/Bryson Hisperia LUAC
138. June 26, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
139. June 27, 2002 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
140. July 1, 2002 North County Coastal LUAC
141. July 8, 2002 North County Coastal LUAC
142. July 10, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
143. July 10, 2002 Greater Monterey LUAC
144. July 10, 2002 Lockwood/Bryson Hesperia LUAC
145. July 10, 2002 Greater Salinas Valley LUAC
146. July 11, 2002 Central Salinas Valley LUAC
147. July 15, 2002 North County Coastal LUAC
148. July 17, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
149. July 29, 2002 North County Coastal LUAC
150. July 29, 2002 Carmel Valley LUAC
151. July 31, 2002 North County Non-Coastal LUAC
152. July 31, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
153. August 7, 2002 Greater Salinas LUAC
154. September 24, 2002 Lockwood/Bryson Hesperia LUAC
155. July 24, 2003 Big Sur Community Meeting
156. July 8, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
157. July 21, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
158. July 28, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
159. August 4, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
160. August 11, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
161. August 18, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
162. August 25, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
163. September 8, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
164. September 15, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs
165. October 22, 2003 Big Sur Community Meeting
166. October 27, 2003 Big Sur/South Coast LUACs

Additional public speaking outreach efforts were also conducted throughout this time period with organizations, jurisdictions, and others. The Wine Corridor Committee also met during this period.

Monterey County 21st Century General Plan Update Public Meetings
Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission

NO. / DATE / EVENT
1. June 8, 1999 Board of Supervisors
2. September 21, 1999 Board of Supervisors
3. January 16, 2001 Board of Supervisors
4. June 5, 2001 Board of Supervisors
5. June 26, 2001 Board of Supervisors
6. October 9, 2001 Board of Supervisors
7. January 15, 2002 Board of Supervisors Briefing
8. January 30, 2002 Planning Commission Briefing
9. February 13, 2002 Planning Commission Briefing
10. February 20, 2002 Planning Commission Briefing
11. February 26, 2002 Board of Supervisors
12. March 6, 2002 Planning Commission
13. April 9, 2002 Board of Supervisors
14. March 27, 2002 Planning Commission – Review of Draft GPU
15. April 17, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
16. April 22, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
17. April 24, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
18. May 1, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
19. May 8, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
20. May 14, 2002 Planning Commission – Review of Draft GPU
21. May 15, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
22. May 22, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
23. May 29, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
24. June 5, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
25. June 19, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
26. June 26, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
27. July 3, 2002 Planning Commission - Review of Draft GPU
28. July 9, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
29. July 15, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
30. July 16, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
31. July 17, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
32. July 30, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
33. Aug 14, 2002 Planning Commission - Property Owner Requests
34. Aug 15, 2002 Planning Commission - Property Owner Requests
35. Aug 16, 2002 Planning Commission - Property Owner Requests
36. Aug 19, 2002 Planning Commission - Property Owner Requests
37. Aug 22, 2002 Planning Commission - Property Owner Requests
38. Aug 23, 2002 Planning Commission - Property Owner Requests
39. Aug 26, 2002 Planning Commission - Property Owner Requests
40. Aug 23, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
41. Aug 27, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
42. August 29, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
43. September 3, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
44. September 6, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
45. September 10, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
46. September 12, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
47. September 16, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
48. September 17, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
49. September 20, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
50. September 24, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
51. October 1, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
52. October 8, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
53. October 10, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
54. October 14, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
55. October 15, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
56. October 17, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
57. October 21, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
58. October 22, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
59. October 29, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
60. November 12, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests
61. November 26, 2002 Board of Supervisors – Property Owner Requests/GPU
62. February 4, 2003 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
63. April 29, 2003 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
64. May 6, 2003 Board of Supervisors – April 2003 Discussion Draft
65. May 8, 2003 Board of Supervisors – April 2003 Discussion Draft
66. May 20, 2003 Board of Supervisors – April 2003 Discussion Draft
67. May 27, 2003 Board of Supervisors – April 2003 Discussion Draft
68. June 3, 2003 Board of Supervisors – April 2003 Discussion Draft
69. June 17, 2003 Board of Supervisors – April 2003 Discussion Draft
70. June 23, 2003 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
71. June 24, 2003 Board of Supervisors – April 2003 Discussion Draft
72. July 1, 2003 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
73. September 30, 2003 Board of Supervisors – Review of Draft GPU
74. Oct 7, 2003 Board of Supervisors-Planning Commission Joint Meeting
75. Oct 28, 2003 Board of Supervisors-Planning Commission Joint Meeting
76. March 3, 2004 Planning Commission 2004 Draft
77. March 11, 2004 Planning Commission 2004 Draft
78. March 17, 2004 Planning Commission 2004 Draft
79. March 22, 2004 Planning Commission 2004 Draft
80. April 7, 2004 Planning Commission 2004 Draft
81. April 21, 2004 Planning Commission 2004 Draft
82. April 28, 2004 Planning Commission 2004 Draft
83. May 18, 2004 Board of Supervisors – Schedule and Options
84. May 25, 2004 Board of Supervisors – Suspend Work on GPU

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posted 06.15.04