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Incorporation Foes Have Their Say at C.V. Forum

Carmel Pine Cone, Feb. 20, 2004


THE FISCAL analysis isn’t complete, the boundaries haven’t been set, and no election has been held.

Still, some Carmel Valley residents view the mere fact that incorporation is being discussed as an affront.

Opponents were out in force during town hall meeting Feb. 12 at All Saints’ Day School, where residents were informed of the steps now underway to determine the feasibility of a Town of Carmel Valley. Those who support incorporation say the area should have its own separate identity; opponents say they don’t want a divorce – they like being part of Monterey County.

The meeting was purely informational and no actions were taken, but the hour-long question and answer session provided many with the opportunity to express their displeasure at the idea of branching out on their own.

“We don’t feel a connection to the village, and we don’t want to be part of it,” said Carmel Views Association president Bob Sinotte.

Presidents of the Hacienda Carmel and Carmel Knolls property owners’ associations also express their disapproval, citing a poll that revealed a majority oppose incorporation and charging that “a group of individuals wants to sever our history with Carmel.”

The meeting was hosted by the Monterey County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, a governmental agency responsible for creating or changing local districts. The agency was called in to conduct studies when more than 25 percent of the valley’s registered voters signed a petition to find out more about the issue.

Advocates of incorporation are concerned the growth in other parts of Monterey County – particularly the Salinas Valley – will diminish their political influence in the county and reduce their input over local zoning issues. But a Town of Carmel Valley, they say, would translate to more effective, efficient and responsive local government and services.

They also point out that Carmel Valley already pays for more in taxes than it receives in services. According to a pamphlet circulated by the Carmel Valley Forum – which dubs itself “neutral” – Carmel Valley produces $6 million in tax revenues for the county, but a new Town of Carmel Valley would cost only $5 million.

Kristina Berry, acting executive officer of LAFCO, said the process has progressed further tan during a similar move two years ago. The agency, she said, will make a decision on whether to recommend incorporation based on a financial analysis that will determine whether the city would be able to survive on its projected budget.

“If it’s denied at the LAFCO level, no more action will be taken for one year,” she explained. “If it’s approved, protest hearings would be initiated,” giving opponents an official chance to have their say.

But many secession opponents weren’t willing to wait. If the Town of Carmel Valley were to come into being, they said, their lives would be micro-managed by a small group of people, taxes would be increased and new development would be sure to follow.

The petition that got the ball rolling was circulated by the Carmel Valley Forum, a non-profit organization founded in 2001 to gather data about the practicality of incorporation. President Milt Kegley called the forum an impartial group with the sole purpose of gathering and disseminating facts.

“Studies have been going on for three years, but the issue probably won’t be voted on for one more year,” he said.

Another forum member, former Monterey County supervisor and Carmel Valley resident Karin Strasser Kauffman, told the audience she joined the forum because she felt “neutral facts needed to be presented in public meetings,” the volunteers had gone as far as they could go, and she wanted to “set goals instead of arguing.”

“More than enough people signed the petition to make it go forward,” she added. “Even if someone doesn’t want the facts, their neighbors may want the facts on taxes and services and potential boundaries… Twenty-five percent is well above the 10 percent that usually gets the government’s attention.”

Last Updated: Dec 07, 08

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