Don't Shortchange The Public on GPU Process
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors is facing a major decision next Tuesday, June 24th. The Board will vote on whether or not to release the "second draft" General Plan Update (GPU) for further public comment and environmental review. It's vital that they do so!
The Board has been holding "workshops" on the latest draft of the GPU since April 29th. (The whole process has taken over three years so far! Over $3 million dollars has been spent!)
Board members have promised to send the current draft back to the public, for full public and environmental review, on June 24th. NOW, it looks like some Board members are planning to renege on this promise.
Special interests (some of whom claim to be speaking for "agriculture") are urging more delays. They want hand picked "committees" to rewrite the GPU . They also have advanced the idea that a consultant hired by these special interests should be given a special privilege to rewrite the plan, under the direction of the County Planning Department. Newspaper stories say that Supervisors Calcagno and Lindley seem to be sympathetic to this demand for more delay, and special treatment.
So far, the GPU (which is certainly not anywhere near perfect) has been founded on what the public has been demanding (and what they ought to demand): a General Plan that will (1) protect the spectacular natural resources of Monterey County; (2) stop rural sprawl and direct new development into the urban areas where it is most appropriate; (3) preserve the commercially productive agricultural land that is the foundation of the county's economy; (4) prohibit development unless necessary roads, services, and water are available; and (5) deny development that will impose unsustainable financial burdens on property owners and the public. ["Affordable housing," which lots of people talk about, is actually not very strongly supported in the current draft--that's one thing that needs to be changed!]
Landowners interested in development, and their attorneys, have been fighting to weaken these principles from the very beginning of the GPU process. While the plan has been weakened somewhat, these guiding objectives still underlie the current draft of the GPU.
NOW is the time for the public to get a further opportunity to comment on the "second draft" of the GPU. This is what the special interests don't want. They know that the public is overwhelmingly in favor of the basic principles listed above, and will be calling for an even stronger GPU, to achieve these objectives. They know that the public will be demanding that developers build more affordable housing, and less housing like that most recently approved in Seaside.
The special interests want hand picked "committees" to rewrite the GPU (not the public) . They want their hand picked consultant to be given special access to the rewrite process. Above all, they want delay, delay, delay!
If you can attend the Board meeting, that would be wonderful! The GPU discussions will begin at 2:00 p.m., and will continue till at least 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, June 24th. The meeting will be held at the Supervisors' Chambers, 240 Church Street, in Salinas.
Board members need to look the public in the eye as they decide whether or not to capitulate to those who want to turn a public process into an opportunity for special interests to delay and defeat the public's plan.
If you can't attend the Board meeting in person, please contact members of the Board of Supervisors, and tell them to vote to send the current GPU draft back to the public for further public comment and environmental review.
Naturally, I'll be happy to answer any questions. Thanks for your help!
A. Patton, Executive Director