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Let's Do What Needs to Be Done In Salinas, Not Carmel Valley City Hall

Carmel Valley News -- Oct. 2009

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, said Jefferson--a fan of the rural life if there ever was one. That's why incorporation is no "silver bullet" solution for Carmel Valley. By itself, incorporation has never relieved development pressures elsewhere. But because incorporation is fraught with the probability of unintended consequences, I plan to vote against Proposition G. I'll go to the meetings and hear proponents out, but as I told a good friend who's a supporter, "I'm going to be a tough vote to get."

Proponents’ arguments seem logical: electing all those who make land use decisions in our area will mean less development. But I think the exact opposite is just as likely the case: City-hood would lead to more development, as it has historically all over the world. People organize city government when it starts to get crowded. Then, as a new layer of government seeks to justify its existence by providing more services, more development is required to pay for them.

I think there are basic contradictions in the arguments of proponents, though I don’t doubt their sincere desire to limit develop.

First, many blame the county government for the loss of a bucolic paradise 30 years ago; in reality Carmel Valley has greatly benefited from the benign neglect of the county, and the results of county land use decision-making in recent decades have been excellent relative to the rest of California. It's still very nice in Carmel Valley. CV has done quite well at limiting growth under county auspices in comparison to the rest of the state.

Secondly, proponents complain that CV gets $1.8 mil. less in services from the county than we pay in taxes. But what services do we really want $1.8 million more of every year: libraries, senior centers, sidewalks, homeless shelters, traffic lights, a police station/jail, better roads? All that would make CV LESS rural.

Thirdly, proponents ignore the fact that, given constitutional protection of property rights, a local council will not be able to simply "just say 'No'" to specific development proposals, any more than county supervisors can. The eagerness of a "no growth" council to do so runs the real risk that we'll be funding massive lawsuit defenses the rest of our lives, potentially losing and likely seeing development happen anyway.

It's true that there is some risk the county will get more pro-growth as it looks to increase tax revenue; but as I understand it, all the General Plans under consideration feature fairly modest CV build outs, with development where it belongs: North Salinas, Ft. Ord and other more appropriate areas. But when we're our own city, what will the council do when it needs more money, as it inevitably will someday? It will have to approve more hotels, stores and homes in Carmel Valley.

Let's face facts: The pace of development in Carmel Valley has been limited by three things: no water, bad roads and the fact that we're beyond commuting distance from the nearest big city. Those are the key factors, not whether the planning commission meets in Salinas, the CV Community Center, or the City Hall that a future mayor erects so we can name it after her "in honor of her years of service."

There is a simple contradiction in terms in the suggestion that "creating a city will lead to less development." Let's reject Proposition G while both proponents and opponents commit to each other show up in force at planning meetings to make the argument for low-impact development where it's appropriate, and no development where it's not. But let's do it in Salinas, not the Village.

Tom Adams
Carmel Valley

Last Updated: Oct 15, 09

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