GPU Must Limit and Phase Growth To Match Infrastructure
Office Box 1876, Salinas, CA 93902
Armenta, Chair [Sent By Email and Fax: 831-755-5066]
Monterey County Board of Supervisors
240 Church Street
Salinas, CA 93901
RE: October 7, 2003 Joint Workshop With Planning Commission on GPU
Dear Chairperson Armenta and Members of the Board of Supervisors:
This letter is to provide comments on the report you will receive at your joint workshop session with the Monterey County Planning Commission, scheduled for Tuesday, October 7th. We have had an opportunity to review the staff report, including its extensive set of attachments.
The information provided to you documents the serious nature of the traffic and circulation problems that confront Monterey County, especially as more growth and development occur.
The grim forecast presented to you is not exactly a news flash" for the residents of Monterey County. Your staff properly notes that the existing road network is deficient to serve existing demand." As my father used to say (and I know he was quoting someone famous):
When youre in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging!"
The Draft General Plan Update that you have approved for a second round of public review is based on this simple but critically important (stop digging") principle. Guiding Objective #8 says this:
Provide adequate infrastructure for existing residents and businesses. Ensure that infrastructure and public services are available, fully funded, and constructed concurrently with new development "
You have already told the staff that this Guiding Objective needs to be implemented in the General Plan policies that will be brought back to the public, the Planning Commission, and your Board for further discussion and ultimately for decision. With respect to the way that the land use and circulation elements will be correlated, this means that the GPU must:
Truly focus new development in a limited number of areas where the infrastructure needs of that development can best be met. Opening up more opportunities for rural development is counterproductive, and will just dig the hole deeper."
Level of Service standards must be maintained, and not reduced. If you lower Level of Service standards to make D" and F" acceptable, you are digging the hole deeper," and breaking faith with the current residents of the county, because to establish such lower Level of Service standards is to say that facilitating new development is more important than maintaining the quality of life that exists right now. Current residents say, Stop digging the hole!" Moreover (and this is a pragmatic point), if you establish lower Level of Service standards, you make it legally impossible to collect the fees that are needed to address current and future traffic and circulation needs.
New development must be charged impact fees that will help the county to stop digging the hole" with respect to current infrastructure deficits.
Finally, new development must be timed and phased, and the new GPU needs to include policies that will require this.
LandWatch would also like to make a point that doesnt directly relate to General Plan policies, but that certainly relates to the issue dramatized in the staff report. Most of the discretionary transportation funds that are under the jurisdiction of local officials are currently programmed to make it easier for cars to travel between Monterey County and the Santa Clara Valleyin other words, to help Silicon Valley commuters. This will only help induce more growth here, which will, in turn, exacerbate the local traffic and transportation deficit the staff report has documented. A very small percentage of the discretionary funds controlled by local officials is currently prioritized for the existing traffic problems faced by Monterey County residents. That could be changed!
LandWatch believes that the only way that the Board will be able to adopt an adequate General Plan Update is to follow the legally-mandated, normal" process. This means that after a first draft" Plan has been revised (this has been done), it needs to be reissued as a second draft" for additional public and environmental review, as that review takes place in public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
The staff report you have received is valuable, but now the Board needs to direct its staff simply to produce a next draft that will implement the Guiding Objectives that the Board has wisely chosen as the foundation for the new General Plan. In fact, the Board has already done this, but now you need to suspend other activities, and insist that the document actually be produced and released. Until you (and the public) have an integrated document to work from, it is virtually impossible to make meaningful comments (or decisions).
Please suspend the seemingly endless round of workshops" and study sessions" that distract everyone, including your staff, and get the next draft of the GPU back before the public for further review and comment.
cc: CAO; GPU Staff; Planning Commission; Interested Persons