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Carmel Valley: No on G holds slim command

Monterey Herald -- Nov. 5, 2009

Proponents promise not to revisit incorporation
Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 11/05/2009 01:30:54 AM PST

Opponents of Carmel Valley incorporation are cautiously claiming victory on Measure G, the county's most heated election battle. But those pushing for incorporation have not thrown in the towel.

Between early absentee ballots and all seven precincts reporting, 52 percent of counted votes were against incorporation.

Incorporation opponent Lawrence Samuels said he would be surprised if the final outcome did not mirror the current count, considering that the percentage did not change from the initial count of absentee ballots to the precinct reporting.

"It would be very difficult for that to change," Samuels said.

Proponent and town council candidate Larry Bacon said that proponents are "absolutely not" conceding the election at this point, though he did acknowledge that proponents would need a break in their favor.

"It's not over," Bacon said. "We just have to wait for the count to get finished, and see where we end up."

There remain an estimated 8,500 vote by mail and provisional ballots countywide to be counted. The remaining votes will likely be counted by Monday, according to County Registrar Linda Tulett. The 4,164 Measure G votes that have been counted represent 55 percent of the 7,624 registered voters in Carmel Valley. Incorporation proponent and town council candidate Glenn Robinson said that pro-town campaigners expected about a 70 percent voter turnout.

About 15 percent of the ballots for Tuesday's election that have been counted by the county Elections Department are from voters registered in Carmel Valley. If a similar ratio holds for uncounted provisional ballots and absentee ballots dropped off at polls, then there are at least 570 uncounted votes regarding incorporation.

Then there are the absentee ballots that arrived by mail after Friday.

Bacon said that if the results hold up, there will be no repeat effort to incorporate.

"There's not going to be a do-over, at least not from our group," Bacon said. "We raised a good half-million dollars out of the valley to get this where we are today. So it ain't cheap."
Samuels said he hopes proponents "keep that promise."

While incorporation appears to have been defeated, the decade-long process could have an impact on future policy at the county level regarding Carmel Valley.

Supervisor Dave Potter, whose district includes Carmel Valley, said the incorporation effort should serve notice to county supervisors that Carmel Valley residents are serious about land-use issues in their community.

"If anything, it's a great wake-up call," said Potter, who is traveling in Ireland. "It lets the Board of Supervisors know that when it comes to issues in the valley, they're extremely concerned about who is going to be at the helm."

The board is more likely to "find projects that are a little more compatible with the valley's concerns," he said.

Potter supported incorporation, saying that Carmel Valley residents are better off governing themselves since he is routinely outvoted by the other supervisors on development issues in the valley. Supervisor Jane Parker, who was elected to the board last year, also supported Measure G and has shown an inclination to align with Potter on Carmel Valley land-use issues.

Samuels said that the concerns expressed by those pushing for townhood are legitimate. And assuming the election results hold up, anti-incorporation leaders are considering ways to work with town proponents to make sure Carmel Valley is represented at the county level.

Establishing a land trust and forming a valleywide home owners association to represent Carmel Valley's interests at county meetings are among the options being considered, Samuels said.

The valley has had little growth in the past 20 years, Samuels said, "but we still have to keep an eye on these politicians."

Laith Agha can be reached at 646-4358 or

Last Updated: Nov 05, 09

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