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CV Environment Review for Incorporation

Jan. 24, 2005



LAFCO of Monterey County _______________________________________________________________
LOCAL AGENCY FORMATION COMMISSION
P.O. Box 1369 132 W. Gabilan Street, Suite 102
Salinas, CA 93902 Salinas, CA 93901
Telephone (831) 754-5838 Fax (831) 754-5831



KATE McKENNA, AICP
Executive Officer


DATE: January 24, 2005
TO: Members of the Formation Commission
FROM: Kate McKenna, AICP, LAFCO Executive Officer
SUBJECT: CARMEL VALLEY INCORPORATION PROPOSAL

(LAFCO FILE NO. 03-10)



SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS:
It is recommended that the Commission:



Receive staff report;
Receive public comment;
Re-affirm the Commission’s direction to staff to undertake preparation of an Initial Study, to re-issue the Request for Proposals for consultant assistance, and to return a consultant contract and proponent payment agreement to the Commission for approval at the earliest possible date, and
Continue hearing to March 28, 2005.


EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT:

This report addresses the appropriate level of environmental review for the incorporation proposal, and provides information about other tasks underway.

California Environmental Quality Act Compliance

As lead agency, the Commission is required to determine the appropriate level of environmental review for the incorporation proposal. In July 2004, the Commission directed staff to seek consultant proposals to prepare an Initial Study. The Initial Study will provide information to assist the Commission in determining the need for a Negative Declaration or an Environmental Impact Report.

Two proposals to prepare an Initial Study were received in September. Incorporation proponents objected to the Initial Study cost, requested that proposals be sought from a larger consultant pool, and also suggested alternatives such as using a prior environmental document or issuing a Categorical Exemption. On December 6, the Commission requested that staff research the environmental determinations of other LAFCO agencies.

Staff has researched incorporation proposals of the past five years in California. All proposals found in this period were determined by Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs) to need a Negative Declaration or an Environmental Impact Report. None were issued a Categorical Exemption. A chart (Attachment A) identifies the researched agencies and the types of required environmental documentation. The chart also includes environmental research for two older incorporation proposals in the region; although beyond the five-year horizon of the survey, they are of local interest.

Most of the surveyed agencies determined that Negative Declarations were appropriate for their incorporation proposals. Examples include the Cities of Oakley (Contra Costa LAFCO), Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods and Rancho Santa Margarita (Orange LAFCO) and Goleta (Santa Barbara LAFCO). A Negative Declaration was also issued for a Castro Valley incorporation proposal that was ultimately defeated at the polls (Alameda LAFCO). Initial Studies were prepared for all of these proposals, finding no potentially significant impacts which could not be mitigated.

Environmental Impact Reports have been required for Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove (Sacramento LAFCO). An Environmental Impact Report is being prepared for the proposed incorporation of El Dorado Hills (El Dorado LAFCO). The Sacramento LAFCO now routinely requires Environmental Impact Reports on incorporations, following expensive and time-consuming legal challenges to a Negative Declaration originally issued for the Citrus Heights annexation in 1997.

Past incorporation efforts in the Monterey Bay region, although not recent, are of interest as background information. One of these was the proposed incorporation of Pebble Beach in 1989. LAFCO of Monterey County prepared an Initial Study and determined a need for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report. The proponents did not go forward with the proposal. An Initial Study was also prepared in the early 1990s for the incorporation effort of the Aptos area (Santa Cruz LAFCO). That Commission determined a need for an Environmental Impact Report, a decision that was challenged and upheld in court. However, the Aptos incorporation proponents did not proceed with the application.

Staff has investigated the feasibility of updating a prior environmental document (the County’s Carmel Valley Master Plan Environmental Impact Report, 1985) and circulating it as a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report. Some valuable baseline data were obtained as part of the County’s recent work on a draft General Plan and Environmental Impact Report. However, discussions with County staff reveal the difficulty of isolating the information needed for Carmel Valley, as the draft General Plan and environmental document focused on the County as a whole. LAFCO staff does not recommend this strategy due to the age of the Master Plan environmental document and the costs that would be involved in obtaining the required information. Also, there is no supporting evidence at this point to require an Environmental Impact Report.

Recent correspondence from proponents (Attachment B) presents a case for a Categorical Exemption. A Categorical Exemption is technically possible under §15320 of the California Environmental Quality Act (changes in the organization or reorganization of local governmental agencies where the changes do not change the geographical area in which previously existing powers are exercised). However, such exemptions should not be employed where there is significant public controversy, as the threshold for challenge is extremely low.

The interests of the Commission and public are best served and defended by continuing to require the preparation of an Initial Study for this proposal. The Initial Study process will identify and analyze the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposal, and guide the Commission’s eventual determination of a Negative Declaration or the need for an Environmental Impact Report. This position is consistent with advice provided by one of the consultants for the proponents (Braitman and Associates, July 26, 2004) who recommended proceeding with a Negative Declaration or subsequent use of a prior environmental document.

Staff is recommending that the Commission reaffirm its earlier decisions to undertake the preparation of an Initial Study, to direct staff to re-issue the Request for Proposals for consultant assistance in preparing the Initial Study, and to direct staff to return a consultant contract and proponent payment agreement for approval by the Commission at the earliest possible date.

Fiscal Analysis

The public review draft of the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis was released by LAFCO on January 3, 2005. Findings were presented by the consultants at the Commission’s December 2004 meeting. The report and presentation are available on the LAFCO website. The report will be revised in coming months to reflect the results of revenue neutrality discussions.

Revenue Neutrality

Now that the draft fiscal report is available, revenue neutrality discussions will begin between the County of Monterey and the incorporation proponents. LAFCO staff are organizing the initial meeting to be held in mid-February. The expected timeframe for negotiations and agreements is about 3 months.

Service Plan

Preparation of a required Service Plan for the incorporation proposal is underway. A progress report was presented by the consultant at the December 2004 meeting. The consultant is now meeting with key districts to discuss her initial research and analysis. A public review draft is expected in February.

Respectfully submitted,




Kristina Berry, AICP
Senior LAFCO Analyst







ATTACHMENT A
ENVIRONMENTAL REQUIREMENTS FOR
INCORPORATION PROPOSALS
(1999-2005)

Local Agency Formation Commission
New Jurisdiction
Incorporation Date
Environmental Document

Alameda
Castro Valley
Defeated at polls
Negative Declaration

Contra Costa
City of Oakley
July 1, 1999
Negative Declaration

El Dorado
El Dorado Hills
Proposal in process
Environmental Impact Report In Preparation

Orange
Aliso Viejo
July 1, 2001
Negative Declaration

Orange
Laguna Woods
March 24, 1999
Negative Declaration

Orange
Rancho Santa Margarita
January 1, 2000
Negative Declaration

Riverside
Menifee
Proposal in process
RFP for Initial Study in Process

Riverside
Wildomar
Proposal has not been applied for, Initial Fiscal Analysis prepared


Sacramento
Rancho Cordova
July 1, 2004
Environmental Impact Report

Sacramento
Elk Grove
July 1, 2000
Environmental Impact Report

Santa Barbara
Goleta
February 1, 2002
Negative Declaration






Monterey
Pebble Beach
Did not proceed (1989)
Environmental Impact Report Required

Santa Cruz
Aptos
Did not proceed (1990)
Requirement for Environmental Impact Report was Upheld by Court







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