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Incorporation Exclusion Sought

Leaving Mouth of Valley Out Would Omit Key Revenue Source
Monterey Herald, March 30, 2004

By Kevin Homes

Opponents of Carmel Valley incorporation say any fiscal feasibility study for the new city should include a version that excludes their neighborhoods, an area that would contain the bulk of the new city's tax base.

A letter under the letterhead of "Greater Carmel Associations" asks the Monterey County Local Agency Formation Commission to consider leaving out the area west of Rancho San Carlos Road as the commission compiles a report designed on whether the Carmel Valley Master Plan area could support itself as a city.

That report should exclude the area west of Rancho San Carlos Road "ridgetop to ridgetop," said the letter.

Signers include the presidents of the Carmel Knolls Property Owners Association, the Carmel Views and Hacienda Carmel community associations, and owners and managers of businesses in the Crossroads, Barnyard and Carmel Rancho shopping centers.

The upcoming fiscal analysis will balance the expected income from property, hotel and sales taxes against the expected costs of services that a new city would need to provide, including police protection, public works, animal control and land-use planning.

Excluding the mouth of the valley would sever a major source of revenue from business sales taxes from the proposed new city.

The 28,000-acre Carmel Valley Master Plan area has a population of about 14,000 and stretches from Hatton Canyon near Highway 1 in the west to a few miles east of Carmel Valley Village, and north to south from ridgetop to ridgetop.

That area is "too big and too diverse," said Robert Sinotte, Carmel Views Association president and longtime anti-incorporation activist.

"We don't want to be pulled into an enormous city of 70 square miles, the land mass of San Francisco," he said.

He and other valley mouth residents consider themselves part of Carmel, not the valley, Sinotte said, and surveys of the neighborhoods show the majority of residents and business owners there are opposed to incorporation.

A community organization, the Carmel Valley Forum, organized a petition drive that got 27 percent of the valley's registered voters to say they wanted to pursue incorporation.

That requires the Local Agency Formation Commission to process that application, said Kristina Berry, acting executive director of LAFCO, adding that the financial feasibility study has been launched by a consulting firm. That report is expected to be completed by late summer.

The commission has not yet seen the Greater Carmel Associations letter or accompanying map of the excluded area, Berry said. She said she was surprised that incorporation opponents wanted so much land excluded.

"We knew it was coming," she said, "but I didn't know it was that much territory."

The financial feasibility study, Berry said, will look at various versions of city boundaries and the impact on costs and revenues that changes might bring.

"We've heard a lot of voices from residents in the areas of the mouth of the valley," she said.

The Carmel Valley Forum has presented itself as a neutral organization that merely wants to see if forming a city is feasible and is not a proponent of forming a city.

Forum spokesman and Vice President Scott MacClelland had no comment on the request to LAFCO.

"I don't think the forum is poised to respond to every new weekly update that may come from Mr. Sinotte," he said.

Joseph Hertlein, a member of the forum and a former chairman of the Carmel Valley Land Use Advisory Committee, said that while the fiscal analysis will likely include various boundaries, the Carmel Valley Master Plan Area is "a geographically defined entity and for planning purposes, it functions as a unit."

Projects east of Rancho San Carlos, Hertlein said, affect valley mouth residents in the form of increased traffic, just as new subdivisions in the Cachagua area affect upper valley residents.

"From a planning standpoint, it makes sense to look at the whole contiguous area."


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