MST / Whispering Oaks

Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) in partnership with the Redevelopment Agency proposed to build a 58-acre heavy commercial development. MST would occupy 25 acres on Parcel I where it expects to build its three-story administration building, a two-story bus repair facility, and 15 acres of lighted parking for its bus fleet.

LandWatch Position: Opposed the Project
Project Status: A Full EIR is Being Written

Quick Facts

  • The project applicant is Monterey Salinas Transit.
  • The project would construct a transit facility for vehicle storage and several new businesses through rezoning of the land.
  • The County of Monterey is the lead agency.
  • The project site is governed by the 2010 Monterey County General Plan.

Project Status

  • The County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a draft plan on March 18th, 2014 that could allow the County to maintain the Whispering Oaks and East Garrison II parcels. Download the draft plan. (10.1M PDF)
  • After a petition with 18,000 was received opposing the project, the Board of Supervisors then rescinded the approvals for the project in February 2012.
  • The applicant appealed the project to the Board of Supervisors, who approved the project in June 2011.
  • The Planning Commission unanimously denied the project’s permit in April 2011.
  • The Final Environmental Impact Report (21.4M PDF) was completed in February 2011.
  • A Notice of Preparation was circulated December 2009 to January 2010.

Project Location Map

This map shows the MST/Whispering
Project map in relation to its surroundings.

Full Size Map (762K PDF)
Credit: County of Monterey, Draft Environmental Impact Report (July 2010)

This map shows the MST/Whispering
Project Vicinity Map.

Full Size Map (893K PDF)
Credit: County of Monterey, Draft Environmental Impact Report (July 2010)

Resources at Risk

  • Impacts to Oak Woodlands
    The project proposes to remove over 4,400 oak trees from the site to allow space for the development. This is a significant loss of habitat and has detrimental implications for neighboring open spaces.
  • Increased Greenhouse Gases
    The DEIR finds that all phases of the project would emit 35,800 tons per year of GHG emissions and the impact would be significant and unavoidable even with mitigation. However, the analysis fails to include emission increases related to the loss of over 4,400 oaks trees and other vegetation. Without estimates associated with the loss of this source of sequestration, the analysis is inadequate. Additionally, emissions from tree disposal should be calculated and offset.
  • Site is Inappropriate
    This $90 million project is not a transit facility for ridership instead it is a storage and repair facility with administrative offices. This project should be located in a different place.

LandWatch Involvement

LandWatch engages in the public process in a variety of ways. For this project, here is a list of our engagement strategies.

Project History

  • Committee Unanimously Recommends Site to Be Open Space
    On April 17, 2014, Oversight Committee Board members were asked to approve a resolution to approve the Long-Range Property Management Plan for submission to the State Department of Finance. The plan requests that certain county properties within former Fort Ord not be sold, as would otherwise be required by state law, but transferred to the county for continued governmental use. Oversight Committee member and supervisor Lou Calcagno voiced concern that the Plan failed to explain that 18,000 voters with certified signatures on our 2011 referendum demanded Whispering Oaks remain open space. Supported by public comment by forU and Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse, Calcagno moved to insert language in the resolution and the Plan itself to clarify that the parcels surrounding the landfill, including Whispering Oaks, are critical to the “beach to monument” open space/recreation corridor. The members of the Oversight Committee voted unanimously to amend both the Plan and the resolution to include the request for transfer of Whispering Oaks and parcels abutting the landfill to the County of use as recreation/open space.  (04.28.14)
  • As you recall the Board of Supervisors agreed in March to consider keeping the Whispering Oaks parcel as habitat lands. However, the decision is not final (yet). The Oversight Board for the County now must review the property-disposition plan before it goes to the state. Please consider getting in touch with the representatives on the Oversight Board to encourage the right decision. Though the meeting date is still unknown, now is the time to email the Oversight Board and explain why this land should be retained. Here are some talking points for your email:
    • I urge you to keep the landfill area also known as the Whispering Oaks parcel, dedicated primarily for habitat and recreation, in the possession of the County.
    • This land has tremendous value to the community as a trail greenway, recreation area, and habitat for protected species.
    • The County’s property-management plan contains a provision to retain former redevelopment properties in Fort Ord with habitat restrictions.
    • The area is an important component of the overall planning for the former Fort Ord.
    • Please approve the plan as submitted by the County. (9.65M PDF)
  • MST/Whispering Oaks To Be Open Space?
    The Board of Supervisors unanimously directed staff to pursue the re-designation of the MST/Whispering Oaks site as permanent open space. Though not a final decision, this is a great first step with an incredibly positive potential outcome. (07.11.12)
  • Supervisors Should Designate Whispering Oaks as Open Space
    The County Board of Supervisors will consider re-designating the Whispering Oaks site as permanent open space at its June 26th meeting. LandWatch encourages you to ask the Supervisors to support the site’s preservation as open space and recreation. (06.21.12)
  • Supervisors Rescind approval of MST/Whispering Oaks Project
    On February 14th the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 – a complete reversal – to rescind its approval of the re-zoning and EIR for the MST/Whispering Oaks Project. The Supervisors changed course after a successful referendum petition with 18,000 signatures and a LandWatch lawsuit. (02.22.12)
  • Supervisors Vote on MST Project, Shut it Down
    In a complete change of direction, the Board of Supervisors voted to overturn its original decision.  Now the MST/Whispering Oaks decision means the project is NOT approved. Activists declared recreational trails would be ruined by the new transit station.  It appears now, the Supervisors agree. (02.14.12)
  • Supervisors to decide on MST / Whispering Oaks project Tuesday, Feb. 14th
    Please join the many activists who fought hard to stop the MST / Whispering Oaks project. The hearing begins at 1:30pm at the Supervisors’ Chambers and we need your support! (02.12.12)
  • Supporters submitted 18,000 signatures to overturn the decision on the MST / Whispering Oaks Project
    Thanks to the many organizations including LandWatch, the Fort Ord Recreational Users, Sustainable Marina and Seaside, over 18,000 signatures were gathered in hopes to overturn the Monterey County Board of Supervisors’ July 12th decision to approve the MST/Whispering Oaks project. (08.11.11)
  • MST and Corral Mall final votes this Tuesday, July 12th
    This Tuesday, July 12th, the Board of Supervisors will decide on two major projects in Monterey County: the MST / Whispering Oaks project in Fort Ord and the Corral de Tierra Shopping Center with a new 100,000 square foot proposal. (07.07.11)
  • LandWatch Responds to Supervisors on the MST / Whispering Oaks Appeal. The final hearing is July 12th
    On June 14th the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 their “intent to approve” the project and closed the public hearing despite: the Planning Commission’s unanimous denial; strong opposition from the community; and an 80-page letter from LandWatch outlining myriad concerns with the project. The Board will consider adopting the findings of approval of the project on July 12th. (06.24.11)
  • The Board of Supervisors will consider the MST / Whispering Oaks projects on June 14th
    This project, denied unanimously by the Planning Commission, proposes to cut down 4,400 oak trees despite the fact that alternative sites exist. (05.31.11)

Monterey County
Issues & Actions