LandWatch Calls For Public Review of The GPU

June 22, 2003

Supervisor Fernando Armenta and Board Members
[Sent by FAX: 831-755-5888]
Monterey County Board of Supervisors
240 Church Street
Salinas, CA 93901

RE: General Plan Update Process – Meeting on June 24, 2003

Dear Chairperson Armenta and Board Members:

The decisions before you on June 24, 2003 are essentially procedural in nature. LandWatch Monterey County urges the Board to take the following actions at the conclusion of your June 24th workshop session on the GPU:

  1. Direct the staff to revise the April 29, 2003 draft of the GPU to reflect any modifications necessary to conform that document to the directions of the Board given in November of last year. [The Board has already provided a number of such directions, in earlier workshop sessions. I understand that there may a few more such modifications needed, particularly with respect to the way “clustering" proposals have been handled in the April 29, 2003 draft of the GPU.]

  2. Direct the staff, after incorporating any necessary revisions identified by the Board, to publish a “second draft" GPU document for further public and environmental review, such draft to be consistent with the Twelve Guiding Objectives adopted by the Board as the foundation for the General Plan Update. Further direct the staff, in publishing such “second draft" document, to make certain that the “second draft" GPU is internally consistent, and in full compliance with the requirements of the State Planning and Zoning Law. [To the degree that comments received during the “workshop" process have identified any potential legal deficiencies, direct the staff to correct those deficiencies prior to publishing the “second draft" document.]

  3. Direct that a full public review and environmental review process commence upon publication of the “second draft" GPU, with a review period of at least sixty days for both the new Draft Environmental Impact Report and the “second draft" GPU document.

  4. Direct the Planning Commission to hold hearings on the “second draft" GPU document at the end of the review period, and make recommendations to the Board.

If the Board adopts this direction, it will allow all members of the public who have concerns about or comments on the current draft to have a “level playing field" for having those concerns and comments considered.

This procedure will give the Board full discretion, after the next round of public review, to make any substantive or procedural decisions that the Board then thinks are necessary. In other words, full Board discretion is retained.

LandWatch urges the Board not to:

  1. Defer or delay the GPU process any further.

  2. Change the current public process to a process based on some sort of select “committee," that would be given special privileges with respect to the work of drafting or revising the GPU.

  3. Provide any special treatment for, or any privileged position to, any “consultant" working on the GPU for private parties.

The General Plan Update process is a “public" process, and the General Plan is, in the end, a document that belongs to the public. Members of the public have different views. All members of the public should have an equal ability to have those views considered, as the process moves forward.

This said, it is obvious that individuals and organizations with different views might profitably meet together to focus on specific issues, to see if those differences (or apparent differences) might be reconciled. Issues relating to agriculture are an obvious area where this technique might work. LandWatch strongly believes, however, that efforts along this line need to take place as part of the public comment process, and are not appropriate as a substitute for the public comment process.

If the Board wants to encourage this kind of “working together" approach, LandWatch urges the Board to make certain that any such “committees," “task forces," “working groups," or the like report their findings and recommendations into the public comment process, for consideration by the Planning Commission and the Board along with any other comments received, so that all comments are considered on a level playing field.

Thank you for taking our very strongly held views into account, as the Board decides the fate of its General Plan Update process next Tuesday.

cc: CAO
County GPU Staff
County Planning Commission
Other Interested Persons

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posted 06.22.03