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Editorial: An Undemocratic Process

Carmel Pine Cone, Dec. 5, 2008




SEVEN YEARS ago, we used this space to urge that external barriers to incorporation of Carmel Valley be lifted. If the people of the scenic valley want to take charge of their own zoning, road maintenance, police protection and the like, they should be able to without the state, the county or the Local Agency Formation Commission’s interference, we said in July 2001 editorial.

“If the people want it and they’re willing to undertake the financial obligations of self-government, nothing should stand in their way,” we summed up.

This week, one of the most formidable barriers to letting the people of Carmel Valley decide their own fate was lifted, when LAFCO voted to approve the creation of a Town of Carmel Valley. The issue will probably be submitted to the valley’s voters next year. While we take no position on whether they should vote yes or no, we certainly applaud the fact that they’ll be able to make up their own minds.

But underlying the triumph of democracy that LAFCO’s decision represents, there is a rather shocking undemocratic undercurrent. According to LAFCO’s analysis, no fewer than 27 neighborhoods, business areas and property owners asked to be excluded from the proposed town — including The Crossroads, Barnyard and Carmel Rancho shopping centers and most of the adjacent residential neighborhoods, plus the Clock Tower business district and several other important properties on Via None Marie, not to mention Rancho Cañada, Quail Lodge, Hacienda Carmel, September Ranch and Tehama. Since incorporation was proposed, it has been obvious that anti-incorporation sentiment runs high at the mouth of the valley. But at this week’s meeting, except for Tehama and Coast Ranch, all these people were told, “Too bad — you’re in.”

It seems the Town of Carmel Valley wouldn’t have enough money to operate without the substantial sales, hotel and property tax revenues all these shopping centers, expensive homes, offices and hotels generate. Which raises the very ugly possibility that an entire, geograpically isolated part of the proposed Town of Carmel Valley may be hauled unwillingly into the city, simply because the residents (businesses don’t get to vote) in the Shanghaied area are outvoted by the more populous neighborhoods to the east. This would be wrong. While it might be acceptable for a small pocket of opposition to be included in a town which is voted for by a majority of residents throughout the proposed town, doing the same thing to such a wide area as the entire mouth of Carmel Valley smacks of totalitarianism.

Unfortunately for incorporation proponents, the idea that all those people would be forced to join a town they don’t like is also likely to drag the incorporation proposal to defeat. Because even residents of mid-valley and Carmel Valley Village who favor incorporation are going to find something unsavory about dragging the mouth of the valley with them.



Last Updated: Dec 07, 08

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