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GOVERNMENT: Urban Planning in Rural Carmel Valley?

Posted May 5, 2005

By L.K. Samuels

To create a new Carmel Valley City out of a 12-mile long valley area with 44 square miles and only 12,000 residents is the antithesis of good urban planning. Urban planning tries to centralize commercial and residential growth in a highly packed area to minimize environmental impacts -- long auto commute, water quality problems, increased pollutants and so forth. The new “city” will be pressured by state and federal agencies to behave like an urbanized area. They will expect a new municipality to be planned and managed like a city with all the trappings -- high density, small lots, sidewalks, traffic lights, sewer system, civil centers, city hall, public works department, etc.

Generally, one of the main goals of urban planning is to prevent the further extension of urban sprawl. The idea is to keep development within city boundaries and then to occasionally annex chunks of newly developed county land. But many cities are pressuring county governments to stop any big developments near their city. For instance, Salinas officials are opposing the large residential subdivision (4,000 homes) north of the city called Rancho San Juan, calling it “poor planning” and “urban sprawl.”

However, the state of California has housing mandates – including very low and low income housing for all cities. Currently, the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) has calculated that 9,490 new homes must be built in Monterey County cities by 2007. If Carmel Valley is incorporated, it would also be placed under state mandates to build new homes for “very low, low, moderate, and above moderate” homes.

(Source: AMBAG Regional Housing Needs Plan 2000-2007 -- AMBAG report at )

Almost the geographical size of San Francisco (45 sq. miles), Carmel Valley is not urbanized and would do poorly under city planning measures and controls. Ironically, many people escaped to unincorporated areas to avoid problems that routinely face urban planners.

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