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Letter and Insert to LAFCO Commissioners on full EIR

The letter below was an insert in Oct. 14-20, 2005 edition of Carmel Pine Cone.

P.O. Box 22231
Carmel, CA 93922
October 8, 2005

Local Agency Formation Commission of Monterey County
P.O. Box 1369
Salinas, CA 93902

Subject: Request LAFCO for an Extensive Environmental Study of the Proposed Incorporation of Carmel Valley

Dear Commissioners:

The Board of Directors of Save Carmel Valley respectfully request that you order a full and complete environmental study of the proposed incorporation of Carmel Valley. We believe that an extensive environmental study is an essential component for an informed electorate. Our organization is a coalition of property owners, including board members of many property associations, four of which have filed declarations of opposition to the proposed 44 square-mile city—a city that couldn’t keep its doors open for more than a couple of months with the valley’s property taxes alone—a city alarmingly dependent on tourism for nearly 70% of its revenues.

The initial environmental study recently submitted to LAFCO does not even begin to address this proposed city’s over-reliance on tourism and the attendant traffic a tourist-city would ultimately produce as it promotes itself. One needs only to look around to anticipate the social and environmental pressures placed on resort-destination cities. A successful Carmel Valley land developer, who has provided sizeable funding for the supporters of incorporation, reluctantly admitted that tourism revenues for a Carmel Valley City would become like heroin to a drug addict, and when more is not enough, the city would hire an economic-development coordinator.

In addition, a Carmel Valley city hall would generate significant traffic, probably more than any other public building in Carmel Valley except the Carmel Middle School. Nowhere in the analysis is the city hall’s potential traffic studied or even addressed.

We believe that any viable environmental study should also examine a city’s low-income housing requirements. Land Watch’s former director from Santa Cruz, Gary Patton, was so concerned about the state’s sizeable demand on this proposed city for low-income housing, that he suggested building much of it on top of commercial buildings in the mouth of Carmel Valley, including the new Safeway. These disturbing comments from the director of Land Watch portend a model of social experimenting that Carmel Valley property owners do not want! An extensive EIR should address city requirements for low-income housing, and attempt to examine its potential impact on both traffic and the environment.

The initial analysis also neglected to mention the deteriorating condition of the roads in Carmel Valley and the environmental/financial challenges required to address these roads—more than 50% do not meet current development standards. What portion of Carmel Valley’s 167 lane-miles of roads will the state require a proposed city to rebuild and widen? Unbudgeted infrastructure demands could place immense pressure on a city to grow and create new revenue streams. The necessary reengineering and rebuilding of critical roads and bridges, and the minimum of $4-5 million needed annually just to address the failed road system (not budgeted in the city’s financial analysis) should certainly warrant an extensive environmental review—not to mention a financial red flag. Additionally, the study needs to consider the impact of increased tourism on these sub-standard roads.

Water analysis in regions of Carmel Valley, according to the county, have indicated hotspots of nitrate contamination from failed septic systems. The Carmel River and aquifer should be a part of any serious environmental study. If it were determined that state water-quality levels for a city would warrant the building of an extensive city sewer system, such a revelation, and its environmental impact, should be made public in advance of any incorporation election.

The initial study has not addressed the community’s many long-term environmental concerns, which a massive, under-funded city would create. If Incorporation were to be approved, and that’s a stretch, taxpayers should not have to bear the costs of an extensive, post-election EIR nor be alarmed by its findings. Such information should be an essential part of the decision process, and should be financed by its “undecided” group of supporters.

The Carmel River Valley is one of the most sensitive environmental areas still left relatively untouched. The Valley’s low growth of less than ½ of one percent per year for the last twenty years and its low density of only 266 people per square-mile is not something we want to trade for a massive, under-funded, tourist-dependent city.

Surveys have demonstrated that nine out of ten property owners in the mouth of the valley do not want this giant municipality; eight out of ten property owners in the Village are also strongly opposed; and seven out of ten in mid valley are opposed. Even the Carmel Valley Association has expressed only a 19% support from its total membership.

Please consider the other 81% of that association and the thousands of property owners who are opposed to incorporation and the many registered voters who saw no harm in “just looking into it.” Don’t let us down. Demand an extensive environmental study. Anything less would be an insult to our community and viewed as a lack of impartiality. The purpose of LAFCO is not to move rapidly or to accommodate the proponents’ budget, but to be thorough and sensitive to the community’s overall social, financial and environmental concerns.

We believe the three communities of the valley will join forces to create a long-term, conservation-based vision in conjunction with a well-planned and funded Carmel River Valley Land Trust; but our communities do not need nor do we desire to be drawn into a giant city.

“…guard it well, for it is far more precious than money…and once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.” Ansel Adams


Robert A. Sinotte, President


Last Updated: Dec 06, 08

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