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Final debate before incorporation vote

Carmel Pine Cone – Oct. 16, 2009


MORE THAN 100 people filled the Hidden Valley
Theater Wednesday evening to listen to what could be
the final debate on the proposed incorporation of
Carmel Valley before the Nov. 3 vote on Measure G.

Larry Bacon, Karin Strasser Kauffman and Glenn
Robinson represented proponents, while Scott Dick,
David Cummings and Bob Sinotte spoke out against
incorporation. Bacon, Kauffman, Robinson and Dick
are all running for town council. The debate was sponsored
by the Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce, and
its managing director, Elizabeth Vitarisi Suro, moderated
the discussion.

For about 90 minutes, the two sides fielded questions
from the audience and offered dueling views of the pros
and cons of making Carmel Valley a town. Since the
public debate over incorporation has been raging for
years, the discussion understandably offered little new

Revenue hits?

The economy, and its impact on the Town of Carmel
Valley’s revenue from sources such as sales and property
taxes, were front and center Wednesday.

“We’re in a depression,” Sinotte said. “I don’t know
a single retail business that’s running in the black.”

Cummings agreed. “A town is a business,” he
observed. “You don’t want to open a business when the
market is going in the wrong direction.”

Town supporters, though, brushed aside worries
about the economy.

“Recessions do end, and when they do, we’re going
to be back in prosperity,” Bacon countered.

Robinson said he’s not worried about the timing of
the election.

“You want to do it during a bottom market,”
Robinson countered. “We’re going to start this town at
the right time.”

While admiring the idealism of proponents, Dick questioned
whether the town can afford to incorporate.

“I believe in self-determination, but you have to be able to
pay for it,” he said.

Accused of being NIMBYs, proponents fired back. “We’re
sometimes characterized as anti-growth, but we want slow or
modest growth,” Robinson added.

Proponents said not all development constitutes sprawl.
“Infilling is a great way to promote new growth,”
Kauffman said. “Not all development is bad.”

Opponents claimed incorporation has little support from
Carmel Valley residents.

“Not a single residents’ association in Carmel Valley supports
incorporation,” Sinotte said.

Robinson disagreed. “The Carmel Valley Association,
which is by far the largest homeowners group in Carmel
Valley with 900 members, has endorsed Measure G,”
Robinson countered.

Town supporters insisted incorporation is necessary
because the Monterey County Board of Supervisors has
shown preferential treatment for big developers.

“September Ranch gets approved, while many of us can’t
add a bathroom,” Kauffman observed.

Dick, meanwhile, suggested incorporation will lead to
greater development pressure.

“AMBAG, the counties and the cities have agreed to push
growth into incorporated areas,” Dick said.

Opponents also suggested a defeat at the ballot box won’t
stop incorporation.

“Goleta had four elections in eight years,” Dick noted.
“There’s nothing stopping [incorporation supporters] from
coming back every two years.”

Proponents, though, said it’s unlikely voters will have
another opportunity to incorporate in the near future.

“We’re going to have one shot,” Bacon insisted. “It took us
a quarter-million dollars to get here.”

Robinson agreed. “It will be decades before we get a
chance to do this again,” he added.

Last Updated: Oct 17, 09

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