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Panel Delays Carmel Valley Ballot Decision: LAFCO to Make Ruling Next Week

Monterey Herald, Nov. 26, 2008



By LAITH AGHA
Herald Staff Writer

The Local Agency Formation Commission met Tuesday to consider whether Carmel Valley residents will have the opportunity to vote on incorporating their community. After three hours of official presentations and public commentary, the commission decided to postpone its decision until Monday, the commission's deadline for deciding if the matter should reach the ballot.

Public comment was impassioned between those in favor of incorporation and those against it. About 40 of the nearly 200 people in attendance — a group that was evenly split between the sides of the issue — stepped to the microphone to state their thoughts on the matter.

But the commissioners concurred that they were not prepared to make a decision Tuesday because of an extensive submission of printed public commentary received this week.

"It's obvious the (public) testimony was to an extent the same testimony" as the commission has heard in past meetings, Commissioner Lou Calcagno said. "Most revealing was the information we received in the last 24 hours. I have not reviewed it, and I am not going to comment on (incorporation) until I do."
Public turnout and comment closely paralleled a LAFCO meeting two years ago, during which the commission decided to order the Carmel Valley Forum — the organization charged with putting incorporation on the ballot — to provide a costly environmental impact report.

That delayed the incorporation process until last May, when a court ruling determined the EIR was unnecessary.

The commission's decision will not determine whether Carmel Valley becomes its own municipality. Its only objective is to decide if Carmel Valley residents will vote on the matter.
"I would like to have the opportunity to vote on it," said Milton Kegley, a Carmel Valley resident in his 80s who said several of his pro-incorporation friends have died since the incorporation push began eight years ago.

While many proponents argued for their democratic right to vote, most of the public commentary was a debate on the pros and cons of incorporating.

Opponents expressed concern about the theoretical town's potential bankruptcy in light of the lagging economy. Financial struggles, opponents argued, would lead to increased taxes or more development to increase the tax base.

"Most cities are going to soon be bankrupt," said Lawrence Samuels. "Because of that problem you are going to have to put in hotels for the (transit occupancy tax)."

Proponents are concerned that more development would change Carmel Valley's character, including an increase in traffic. By wrestling governance away from the county, proponents say, Carmel Valley residents will have more control over future growth.

"Developers are so greedy that they are willing to trample on the democratic rights of Carmel Valley residents," said Elizabeth Robinson.

Opponents pointed to multiple homeowners associations that have shown little support for incorporation. Some residents near the mouth of the valley cited a lack of connection with residents in the eastern portion of the valley 12 miles away.

"To say we have the same desires and the same economic interests is absurd," said Wayne Chapman, a Carmel Views resident.

Chapman said that if the town hall were located in Carmel Valley Village, it would be farther away than any city hall on the Peninsula.

Others have classified the differences as "cultural." But incorporation proponent Dale Abron refuted the cultural argument.

"I have no cultural differences with anyone who lives within the sphere of Carmel Valley," he said.

Laith Agha can be reached at lagha@montereyherald.com or 646-4358.



Last Updated: Dec 07, 08

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