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Vote on C.V. an Example of Arrogance

Monterey Herald, Oct. 21, 2006

NOTE: The Monterey Herald’s editorial below is extremely biased. It fails to take into account the fact that 75% to 80% of valley residents don’t support a new city. Or that voters need to have all the information available before voting on such an important issue. Also note that Carmel Valley is not some flat, urban or commercial zone without a river running through it. Our valley is highly sensitive to environmental changes. Back in an era when EIR’s were less important, 50% of the current cities in Monterey County prepared a full EIR before voters were given the opportunity to vote.


When it comes to land use, Lou Calcagno and Jerry Smith apparently have decided that public opinion doesn't matter. They're willing to prevent public votes on big issues, no matter what it takes, no matter how bad it looks.

The latest example of official arrogance came Wednesday when the two county supervisors, joined by three others on the Local Agency Formation Commission, chose not to let the people of Carmel Valley decide whether to incorporate.

In a stunning reversal of a decision 10 months earlier, Calcagno, Smith, commissioners Ralph Rubio and Tom Perkins and alternate Matt Gourley, filling in for absent Anna Caballero, voted to require a full environmental impact review. That gives development interests and other incorporation opponents time to create other obstacles in case the $500,000 cost of performing the study doesn't kill the incorporation effort outright.

County supervisors previously blocked public votes on the Rancho San Juan development and an alternative general plan drafted by community groups. Even after the courts cleared the way for the general plan measure, the supervisors are trying to stall that vote indefinitely. What happened Wednesday was an extension of the same kind of thinking.

Commissioners gave various inconsistent reasons for their vote, which ignored the opinion of the LAFCO staff and consultants. Smith, for instance, said he wants to assure more affordable housing is built in the valley, while Rubio says a new municipality can't support itself.

Ultimately, it was an illogical and disingenuous decision that insults incorporation backers who have worked six years to bring the issue to a vote. It was another gift to development interests led by lawyer Tony Lombardo. After making a career arguing that various developments didn't need environmental impact reviews, Lombardo this time successfully argued the opposite.

Incorporation backers contend convincingly that the decision has nothing to do with protecting the environment and, in fact, is meant to push more construction into a largely bucolic region overwhelmingly opposed to large-scale development.

Is incorporation a good idea? Maybe. Maybe not. Generally, those at the mouth of the valley tend to feel one way and folks in the more rural inland feel another. There's been a lot of talk about straw votes and opposing views in the neighborhoods. The way to settle it is an official public vote by valley residents. Instead, five men from Seaside, Moss Landing, Gonzales and King City took the decision away from Carmel Valley. The commission's only valleyite, Anne McGowan, was on the losing side of a 5-2 count.

Incorporation proponents say they want to create their own town partly out of fear that the Board of Supervisors is forcing unwanted development on them. What happened Wednesday demonstrates why they're afraid. When the commission meets again Monday to tie up loose ends, it should undo them instead.

Last Updated: Dec 07, 08

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