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LandWatch Joins Group Statement on GPU

March 2, 2004

California Native Plant Society, Monterey Bay Chapter
Coalition To Protect Housing, Farmlands, Air & Water
League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula
Friends, Artists & Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough
North County Citizens Oversight Coalition
Planning and Conservation League
Concerned Citizens of River Road
Citizens For Responsible Growth
Líderes Comunitarios de Salinas
Prunedale Preservation Alliance
Monterey County Pine Watch
LandWatch Monterey County
Sierra Club, Ventana Chapter
Prunedale Neighbors Group
Carmel Valley Association
Highway 68 Coalition
Oceans Conservancy

The Honorable Lou Calcagno, Chair
Monterey County Board of Supervisors
240 Church Street
Salinas, CA 93901

RE: Proposed Monterey County General Plan Update

Dear Members of the Board:

The policies contained in the current draft of the GPU fail to implement the twelve Guiding Objectives upon which the Board of Supervisors required the Plan to be based. Accordingly, the current draft of the Monterey County General Plan Update must be modified before final adoption, if it is to meet these Guiding Objectives.

We remind you that the Guiding Objectives were developed by the public during sessions that you initiated; that the Board has never deviated from the Guiding Objectives; and that the public has relied upon the Board’s commitment to the Guiding Objectives throughout the four year General Plan process.

In its current form, the draft GPU would:

  • Stimulate growth and development far in excess of predicted needs

  • Weaken existing environmental standards found in the current General Plan

  • Fail to achieve necessary affordable housing goals

We urge you to make sure that the final plan effectively implements the twelve Guiding Objectives, which come directly from the public.

Unless we effectively target growth, our quality of life will worsen. Traffic congestion, water quality and air quality will continue to deteriorate.

Guiding Objective #2 says that the GPU should "identify land that is adequate and appropriate for the residential, commercial, and industrial development needs of Monterey County during the next twenty years…."

In fact, the current draft of the GPU would stimulate growth and development far in excess of predicted needs. It identifies land that would allow more than three times the amount of residential growth that the Association of Monterey Bay Areas Governments predicts. Vastly more land is given over for development than is "needed."

More growth means more traffic, more pressure on our scarce affordable housing supply, more damage to our natural resources, and more water overdraft.

The current draft GPU is a "big growth" plan that puts the interests of the developers ahead of the interest of the public. This needs to be corrected, before final adoption.

We need a better General Plan Update—one that preserves our precious natural resources such as the Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay, and Big Sur for future generations.

Guiding Objective #9 says that the GPU should "provide long-term protection of identified resource-rich and critical habitat areas."

In fact, the current draft of the GPU would weaken existing environmental standards:

  • It allows development on steep slopes, now protected by current policy

  • It opens up sensitive areas to commercial development without permit review

  • It weakens the policies that protect our coast

Before final adoption, the draft GPU must be modified to strengthen, not weaken, the policies that that protect the air, land, and water resources of Monterey County.

We support development in Monterey County’s incorporated cities, and in the communities of Boronda, Castroville, Pajaro, and Fort Ord to boost our affordable housing supply. The current draft GPU doesn’t create enough housing that is affordable for the majority of workers and residents.

Guiding Objective #4 says that the GPU should "strongly encourage new commercial, industrial, and residential development to provide actual, new, permanently affordable living quarters, including housing for people with low, very low, and moderate incomes who live and/or are employed in Monterey County…."

In fact, the current draft fails to achieve this objective. Much stronger affordable housing policies need to be made part of this plan, before final adoption.

The Board of Supervisors has spent more than four years—and more than $4 million dollars—developing a draft GPU that does not reflect the public’s priorities. If the Board continues to represent special interests—and not the public’s interest—then voters may need to take control of managing growth and development in the County.

The policies presented in the latest draft of the GPU are worse than those presented four years ago, and the process has been fiscally irresponsible.

Before final adoption, the GPU needs to be modified to justify the time and expense that have gone into it. It needs, most simply, actually to achieve the twelve Guiding Objectives upon which it is supposed to be based.

The groups that have signed this letter have been part of the public process since the beginning. We urge the Board of Supervisors to keep faith with the public. Adding various special treatments for special interests is simply not acceptable!

We intend to appear before the Planning Commission, in its upcoming hearings, and to make specific suggestions on how the current draft GPU should be modified, to conform to the twelve Guiding Objectives.

We urge your Board’s early involvement in this process—because in the end, it will be the Board’s responsibility to make sure that the new General Plan will:

  • Protect our air, land, and water resources, our coast, and the incomparable natural treasures of Monterey County, like Big Sur, Arroyo Seco, and the Elkhorn Slough

  • Provide permanently affordable housing opportunities for local residents, including those with very low, low, and moderate incomes

  • Allow for the growth that is needed, without opening up Monterey County to the outside growth pressures that threaten our agricultural economy, our natural resources, the financial capabilities of our local governments, and our quality of life

Thank you for taking our comments seriously. We look to you for leadership. The twelve Guiding Objectives adopted by your Board should continue to be your guide.

Gary A. Patton,
LandWatch Monterey County
Marit Evans and Mike Weaver,
Highway 68 Coalition
Mari Kloeppel,Friends,
Artists & Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough
John Dalessio,
Carmel Valley Association
Carolyn Anderson,
North County Citizens Oversight Coalition
Gillian Taylor,
Sierra Club, Ventana Chapter
Beverly G. Bean,
League of Women Voters, Monterey Peninsula
VMD Doug Fay,
Concerned Citizens of River Road
Lidia Rodriguez,
Líderes Comunitarios de Salinas
Kaitlin Gaffney,
Oceans Conservancy
Fred Keeley,
Planning and Conservation League
Jan Mitchell,
Prunedale Neighbors Group
Howard Classen,
Coalition To Protect Housing, Farmlands, Air & Water
David Bates,
Monterey County Pine Watch
Bill Theyskens,
Prunedale Preservation Alliance
Alex Urciuoli,
Citizens For Responsible Growth
Mary Ann Matthews,
California Native Plant Society, Monterey Bay Chapter

cc: Monterey County Planning Commission
Monterey County GPU Staff
County Administrative Officer
County Planning Director

[Return to County Plan Update Issues and Actions]

posted 03.03.04

LandWatch's mission is to protect Monterey County's future by addressing climate change, community health, and social inequities in housing and infrastructure. By encouraging greater public participation in planning, we connect people to government, address human needs and inspire conservation of natural resources.



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