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Editorial: C.V. incorporation: It’s up to the voters

Carmel Pine Cone -- June 21, 2009

HERE AT The Pine Cone, we have selfish reasons to want the Town of
Carmel Valley to be created. Elections in the new town — which would regularly
pit ardent no-growthers and environmentalists against people who think
property rights, affordable housing and a vibrant economy also matter — would
be fascinating to cover. So would the meetings of the Carmel Valley City
Council and Planning Commission. So when you vote in the November election
(absentee ballots go out Oct. 5 and election day is Nov. 3), if your goal is to make
The Pine Cone’s staff happy, vote Yes on incorporation.
(If this editorial were a text message, we’d insert a smiley face icon here.)

However, we admit that residents of Carmel Valley have a bit more at stake.
For people who live there, the main issues are two:

■ Without incorporation, will Monterey County supervisors allow Carmel
Valley to be overdeveloped?

The answer is they can’t. As the result of a lengthy legal battle following the
approval of Carmel Valley Ranch more than 30 years ago, Carmel Valley has a
highly restrictive general plan which prohibits most new subdivisions and strictly
limits development on lots of record. If the Monterey County Board of
Supervisors decided to open the floodgates by amending the general plan to permit
extensive new development, those changes would be halted in their tracks by
CEQA. So residents of Carmel Valley can rest easy, knowing that it is impossible
for their valley to experience San Jose-style (or even Carmel-by-the-Seastyle)

What incorporation proponents don’t want is any development at all. And
while the United States Constitution protects the rights of property owners to use
their property in an economically beneficial way, making some new development
on existing lots inevitable, it is certainly true that an activist city council
with plenty of taxpayer funds to spend on experienced no-growth lawyers could
delay even the most determined property owner’s development plans almost

So while the Monterey County Board of Supervisors couldn’t allow intensive
development even if it wanted to, a no-growth city council could probably figure
out a way to prevent the few development projects the board might approve
under the existing Carmel Valley general plan.

Is that what Carmel Valley voters want? It is up to them.

■ Can Carmel Valley afford to incorporate?

Even in these tough times, it stands to reason that, if any group of citizens in
the State of California can afford their own local government, the people of
Carmel Valley can. Upscale communities always pay far more in taxes than they
receive in government services (whether federal, state or local). So, no matter
what the fiscal analysis shows, the council of the Town of Carmel Valley should
be able to pay its bills.

However, it is also true that adding a new lawyer of government invariably
increases government expenditures.

So the question for the people of Carmel Valley is: Given that they can afford
their own government, but also that the new government will cost extra, are the
benefits of incorporation worth the costs?

The answer to that question is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, it is
up to the voters.

Incorporation of Carmel Valley seems likely to fail. If it does, we will be disappointed.
But the will of the voters is to be respected. And if the people of
Carmel Valley say they don’t want to incorporate, the question should be considered
settled for at least 50 years.

Last Updated: Aug 21, 09

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