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LandWatch “Modest Proposal" On The GPU Process


March 16, 2005
[Sent By Email and Regular Mail]

Supervisor Jerry Smith
2616 1st Avenue
Marina, CA 93933

RE: General Plan Procedures – A Modest Proposal

Dear Supervisor Smith:

I was able to listen to the March 15, 2005 Board of Supervisors’ meeting by way of the live internet broadcast that the County makes available to the public. Many thanks to the County, by the way, for this very helpful public service! Naturally, I was particularly interested in the Board’s discussion of Agenda Item S-19, listed as a discussion of the “schedule and necessary resources for follow up study session(s) between the Board and staff," with respect to the County’s General Plan Update.

Your motion that the Board “adopt" the so-called “Refinement Group" plan as the basis for further deliberations was procedurally out of order, as you were properly informed both by Supervisor Potter and by County Counsel. However, your remarks indicated that you were trying, among other things, to find a way to “expedite" future deliberations on the General Plan Update. Supervisor Calcagno made similar remarks.

If you and other Board members truly want to expedite adoption of a new General Plan Update for Monterey County, I recommend that you and the Board set the so-called “GPU3" document, as modified by the Planning Commission’s actions, for a set of hearings, and that you work from this document to make any changes that the Board determines are necessary. This would be recommencing (about one year later) the process that was derailed by the Board’s 3-2 vote in June of 2004 to “start over" on the General Plan Update.

You did not have anything officially to do with that “start over" decision in June 2004 (though you did say at the time that you thought it was the right decision), and both Supervisors Calcagno and Potter voted against it. If you and the Board truly don’t want to “start over," which is what the Board did direct in June 2004, and what the schedule before you last Tuesday contemplates, then the suggestion I am making may be seen as a rather “modest proposal."

In effect, I am recommending that you and the Board follow what is the “normal" process for a General Plan Update, and take the Planning Commission’s recommendations seriously. You should set them for hearing, make any changes that the Board deems necessary, complete any additional environmental review that that your legal staff tells you is needed, refer the revised plan (if legally required to do so) to the Planning Commission for their comments, take final action, and thus be finished with your General Plan Update. It is likely that this can all be completed during this calendar year, at a cost very much less than what the “start over" process will cost.

If a majority of the Board wants to adopt the aggressively pro-development plan advanced by the so-called “Refinement Group," you can vote to turn GPU3 into that plan. After all, that’s what the “Refinement Group" did. If the Board does vote to do that, I concur with County Counsel that extensive new environmental review will be necessary, but nothing prevents the Board, legally, from adopting such a pro-development GPU.

On the procedural issues (not the substantive issues), I strongly recommend that you ask fellow Board Members to reverse their “start over" decision of a year ago, and to set the GPU3 document for a scheduled set of hearings, and then take action on that document, modifying it as the Board majority determines is best.

As you’ll see from the attached letter, this is the same recommendation that LandWatch made last June. It’s still the fastest, least costly and most certain way to bring this terribly expensive and non-productive procedural nightmare to an expeditious conclusion.

Thank you for considering this modest proposal.


Members, Board of Supervisors
Members, Monterey County Planning Commission
Planning Director
County Administrative Officer
County Counsel
Other Interested Persons

June 7, 2004 Letter is available here.

[Return to County Plan Update Issues and Actions]

posted 03.17.05

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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