KUSP LandWatch News
Week of August 18, 2003 to August 22, 2003

KUSP provides a brief Land Use Report on KUSP Radio. Tune in every weekday at 6:33 or 8:49 am. KUSP is at 88.9 FM in General Coverage, 105.9 FM in Big Sur Valley, 91.3 FM in Palo Colorado Canyon, and 91.7 FM in San Ardo. Archives of past transcripts are available here.

Week of August 18, 2003 to August 22, 2003

The following Land Use Reports have been presented on KUSP Radio by Gary Patton, Executive Director of LandWatch Monterey County. The opinions expressed by Mr. Patton are not necessarily those of KUSP Radio, nor of any of its sponsors.

Monday, August 18, 2003 – AMBAG Presentation Tomorrow
Land use policy is a major topic of discussion at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, and that’s been true since at least the 1970’s. I think that this focus on land use is directly related to the fact that Santa Cruz County is the smallest county in the state, in terms of its physical size.

Because Santa Cruz County is small, a large percentage of the residents in the county will immediately see the results of the land use policy choices made by their local officials. In larger counties, that often isn’t true. It’s unlikely that a resident of the Monterey Peninsula will personally see the subdivisions going up in Salinas, Soledad, Greenfield, or North County, but when development decisions do become visible, people do become involved. There is a lot of debate about the KB Homes development in Seaside, and largely because that development is so visible.

There is another reason that Santa Cruz County has focused on land use policy. Santa Cruz County’s nearest neighbor, the Silicon Valley, creates intense development pressure on the Santa Cruz County side of the hill. Tomorrow, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will hear a presentation on an “Interregional Partnership Study,” focusing on that land use relationship. The presentation is the first item on the Board’s Regular Agenda, so plan to be there at about 9:15, if you’d like to listen in.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

Board Agenda

AMBAG Website

Access To Interregional Partnership Study

Tuesday, August 19, 2003 – Salinas Zoning Code Revision
Last year, the City of Salinas revised its General Plan. The General Plan is the “constitution” of land use in a local community, and when the “constitution” is amended, other things need to change, too. Specifically, a community’s zoning ordinance must be completely consistent with the provisions of the local General Plan. The City of Salinas must now change its zoning code, to reflect its new General Plan policies.

Developers and local residents most directly come into contact with land use policy in the context of the zoning code. The zoning code outlines, and usually with very great specificity, exactly what land uses are allowed, under what conditions, on every parcel of real estate in the community. Can your neighbor build a three-story house on his or her lot? Can you subdivide a piece of property you own? How big a sign can you put up, to advertise your business? Do you need to get a permit to cut down a tree? Questions like this are all addressed in the zoning code.

Tonight, at 7:30, at the Salinas City Hall, the Salinas City Council will hold a study session on its required zoning code update, focusing on the “Design Guidelines Component” of the zoning code. Everyone in Salinas will be affected by the decisions ultimately made. There won’t be any decisions tonight, but those in attendance will certainly find out what’s proposed. You’re most cordially invited to participate.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

City of Salinas Website

Salinas General Plan

Current Salinas Municipal Code

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 – Supervisor Almquist in Scotts Valley
The Scotts Valley City Council will be meeting this evening at 6:00 o’clock at the Scotts Valley City Hall. Item #1 on the Regular Agenda is a presentation by Santa Cruz County Supervisor Jeff Almquist, who will report on the proposed Highway One widening project.

If you’d like to get more information on this item, please click on the Land Use Report link at KUSP maintains transcripts of each one of these Land Use Reports, and those transcripts have links to useful information. You are also invited to send me any suggestions or comments you may have.

Scotts Valley residents who commute to workplaces in the Silicon Valley may not think that the Highway One widening project will directly affect them. It’s in the Aptos, Mid-County, and Soquel areas that congestion is most notable right at the moment. However, it may well be that widening Highway One in Mid-County will affect conditions in Scotts Valley, and on Highway 17. It is now generally recognized that new highway construction leads to what is called “induced demand,” which means that once a highway is widened, more cars start using the route. Solving congestion problems in Mid-County could actually induce more commuters to get on the road, and if they’re headed for the Silicon Valley, drivers in Scotts Valley and on Highway 17 will definitely notice the difference.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

Scotts Valley Website

Agenda for August 20, 2003 Meeting

More Information on Proposed Highway One Widening Project

Thursday, August 21, 2003 – Santa Cruz County Wireless Ordinance
Santa Cruz County has a long history of significant innovation where land use policy issues are involved. Of course, every California County has a significant involvement in land use policy. That’s simply a function of the state laws that govern counties, and the importance of land use to our local communities.

Santa Cruz County, however, has tended to distinguish itself, through the years, by tackling land use policy issues long before they become topics of discussion in other counties. The size of the county is one important factor. Because it’s small, it’s easier for the public to learn about, and therefore get interested in, land use decisions. The intense development pressures focused on Santa Cruz County also help make land use policy issues particularly important. In addition, more than half of the residents of Santa Cruz County live in the unincorporated area, outside of cities. That’s unusual, and means that the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors has more areas under their land use jurisdiction than many Boards do.

What got me to think about this topic was an item on last Tuesday’s agenda, dealing with wireless communications facilities. Santa Cruz County has an innovative program to regulate cell phone towers. In that area, as in so many others, Santa Cruz County really is ahead of what most other local governments are doing. Find out more at

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

Santa Cruz County Website

Santa Cruz County Code

Board Agendas

August 19, 2003 Agenda Item on Cell Phone Towers:

Friday, August 22, 2003 – Desalination and Other Meetings Ahead
The California Coastal Commission has recently released a draft report entitled, “Seawater Desalination and the California Coastal Act.” I’ve put a reference on the KUSP website. Click on the Land Use Report link, at, and look for the transcript for August 22nd.

You should also know that a statewide advisory group on desalination will be meeting in Monterey County on August 26th and August 27th, at the Monterey Beach Hotel in Seaside. The land use implications of the proposed desalination plant in Moss Landing could be enormous, so those who care about our coast, and about the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, should probably start reading up on desalination.

Here’s advance warning of a couple of other meetings, too. On Wednesday August 27th, Congress Member Sam Farr will be holding a town hall meeting at the Watsonville City Hall, and will be prepared to discuss affordable housing at the former Fort Ord, and efforts to provide flood protection on the Pajaro River, to name just two important topics with direct relevance to land use policy.

On Tuesday August 26th, at 7:30 p.m., at the Salinas City Hall, the Salinas City Council will hold a joint study session with the Planning Commission, on an important study on affordable housing. Monterey County and Salinas residents should mark their calendars.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

Coastal Commission Desalination Report -

For more information on the August 26th and August 27th meeting on desalination contact:
Tom Luster
California Coastal Commission
Telephone: 415-904-5200

Archives of past transcripts are available here