KUSP LandWatch News
December 5, 2011 to December 9, 2011

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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.

December 5, 2011 to December 9, 2011

The following Land Use Reports have been presented on KUSP Radio by Gary A. Patton. The Wittwer & Parkin law firm is located in Santa Cruz, California, and practices environmental and governmental law. As part of its practice, the law firm files litigation and takes other action on behalf of its clients, which are typically private individuals, governmental agencies, environmental organizations, or community groups. Whenever the Land Use Report comments on an issue with which the Wittwer & Parkin law firm is involved on behalf of a client, Mr. Patton will make this relationship clear, as part of his commentary. Mr. Patton’s comments do not represent the views of Wittwer & Parkin, LLP, KUSP Radio, nor of any of its sponsors.

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Monterey County LAFCO Today
Monday, December 5, 2011

“LAFCO” stands for Local Agency Formation Commission. This is probably the most important land use agency about which you may have heard nothing. “Nothing” unless you are a regular listener to the Land Use Report, of course. I talk about LAFCOs frequently, since they play such a big role in land use policy making.

Today, Monterey County residents might want to attend a meeting of the Monterey County LAFCO. The meeting will begin at 4:00 o’clock this afternoon in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, located at 168 West Alisal Street in Salinas. I’ve put links to information about the meeting, and about the Monterey County LAFCO, and about LAFCOs on a statewide basis, in the transcript of today’s Land Use Report. Just click on the “Archives/Podcasts” link at the top of the KUSP home page to track down this information.

What is so important today at the Monterey County LAFCO? There are a number of important items, actually, but I refer you especially to Item #9(e). In Item #9(e), the Commission will discuss a proposal to annex approximately 44 square miles of the former Fort Ord to the Marina Coast Water District. Annexation is the official precursor to development. If you care about the future of Fort Ord (and you ought to) don’t miss this meeting.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

Santa Cruz County LAFCO Tomorrow
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wittwer & Parkin is the law firm with which I am associated. One of the law firm’s clients is the Community Water Coalition, or CWC. The CWC is opposing an application by UCSC for extended water service to the University Campus. That is why I plan to be at the Santa Cruz County LAFCO meeting tomorrow morning. If you receive your water service from the City of Santa Cruz, you might want to attend this LAFCO meeting, too. The meeting will be on the fifth floor of the County Government Center, and starts at 8:30.

Most listeners probably know that the City of Santa Cruz is facing a major water supply crisis. At the very time when the City is most uncertain about its ability to provide reliable water service to its existing customers, and to meet its legal obligations to the natural environment, the City and UCSC are jointly proposing to extend City water service to an undeveloped, natural area on the UCSC campus, to facilitate new construction. The UCSC application asks for 152 million gallons of water per year, for an area not currently entitled to receive City water, so as to allow the construction of over 3,000,000 square feet of new buildings.

On Wednesday, the Santa Cruz County LAFCO will hear from the public, before deciding whether to say “yes” or “no” to this proposal. You can get full information in today’s transcript.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

Today At The Santa Cruz County LAFCO
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When I report to you about today’s meeting of the Santa Cruz County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, I need to disclose that I have a “dog in the fight.” The law firm with which I am associated is representing the Community Water Coalition, which opposes the UCSC request that the City of Santa Cruz be permitted to extend City water service to a currently undeveloped area of the UCSC North Campus.

The policy issues involved are extremely complex, and extremely interesting. Those listeners who would like to learn more about how LAFCOs operate could do a lot worse than reviewing the comprehensive set of materials presented to LAFCO by the Santa Cruz County LAFCO Executive Officer. Links to everything can be found in the transcript of today’s Land Use Report.

In summary, state law gives LAFCO the job of deciding whether or not it is appropriate to allow a water service provider (in this case the City of Santa Cruz) to extend its water service to an area outside its jurisdictional boundaries. That is what UCSC is asking for, and there are some arguments in favor, but there are lots of arguments against that, too, particularly at a time of water supply uncertainty.

I hope some KUSP listeners will be coming to the hearing this morning. It starts at 8:30 on the fifth floor of the County Government Center, 701 Ocean Street in Santa Cruz.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

The Coastal Commission And Arana Gulch
Thursday, December 8, 2011

A number of Central Coast items are on the Coastal Commission agenda today. If I get you interested, you don’t have to go to San Francisco to see the action. The Commission provides a web broadcast of its meetings. A link to the webcast is found on the Coastal Commission website, and I’ve put a link to that in today’s transcript.

The “big item” on today’s agenda is an application by the City of Santa Cruz, which is seeking Coastal Commission approval for a Master Plan for the Arana Gulch portion of the Santa Cruz Greenbelt. Arana Gulch is just inland of the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, and is a buffer between the City and the unincorporated community of Live Oak. The most controversial part of the Master Plan is its proposal to construct a paved bikeway through the middle of the habitat of an endangered plant species. This habitat is officially called ESHA, or “Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area,” and these areas are given maximum protection by Coastal Act policies.

Lots of people like the bikeway idea, but as lawyers will tell you, “tough cases make bad law.” The real question for the Commission is whether the Commission can approve the bikeway without setting a precedent that will open up a gigantic loophole in Coastal Act policies and that will allow road developments up and down the California coastline where they can’t go now. It’s bound to be an interesting discussion.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

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News About The Capitola GPU
Friday, December 9, 2011

General Plans are the “Constitution” that govern land use in each one of our local communities. Under state law, every California city, and every California county, must have an integrated, comprehensive General Plan. All city and county infrastructure projects, and all decisions about development, made at a “project level,” must be “consistent” with the local General Plan. In other words, it is pretty hard to overemphasize the importance of the local General Plan. If listeners buy into my basic message about the need for you to get personally involved in land use decisions (and this message has always been the “unhidden agenda” of the Land Use Report) you will want to become personally involved in updating the local General Plan that will govern the future of the community in which you live.

Currently, the City of Watsonville, the City of Santa Cruz, and the City of Capitola are all right in the middle of updating their General Plans. The time for your personal involvement, in other words, is right now.

Specifically, for the City of Capitola, a Village Workshop was held on Saturday, November 12th, and on Sunday, November 13th. The results of those workshop sessions are now available. There isn’t perfect agreement, but everyone seems to like the idea of a hotel in the Village. The next big meeting is on January 18th. Check the links in today’s transcript for more information.

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.

More Information:

Archives of past transcripts are available here