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Foe Just Says No to C.V. Cityhood: Rotary Speech Sets off New Round of Sparring with Proponents

Monterey Herald, March 2, 2006



By KAREN RAVN
Herald Staff Writer

Calling the proposed incorporation of Carmel Valley a "giant, reckless and enormously unpopular scheme," a leading foe of incorporation set off another round of claims and counterclaims Wednesday with a speech for the Carmel Rotary Club.

At La Playa Hotel in Carmel, Robert Sinotte, the founder and president of Save Carmel Valley -- No on Incorporation, said the proposed city would have serious money problems and be unable to pay for necessary infrastructure improvements.

"The 'town' of Carmel Valley would be alarmingly dependent on tourism for more than two-thirds of the city's gross general revenues," he said.

"That's an outright lie, and you can quote me," said Andrew Allison, a Carmel Valley resident who supports incorporation.

Sinotte seems to be counting transient occupancy taxes (TOT) and sales taxes as tourism revenue.
"Do you mean Carmel Valley residents don't buy anything?" Allison asked.

Glenn Robinson, president of the Carmel Valley Association, said the latest projections show that hotel taxes in the proposed city would bring in less revenue than property taxes.

"TOT has remained fairly low," he said, "while property taxes have continued their inevitable rise."
But Sinotte dismissed property taxes as minor contributors of only a sixth of the city's revenues.
The city will need big bucks, Sinotte believes, because big problems loom.

"Its decaying roads... do not meet current development standards," he said. And widening, re-engineering and paving them would cost more than $200 million.

But Robinson said the total budget for public works for Monterey County is only $21 million.
"And Mr. Sinotte makes a claim that Carmel Valley somehow has road issues 10 times the annual budget?" he asked. "It's preposterous."

Sinotte described the city's public works department as "two part-time employees and only $327,000 budgeted for patching holes, striping roads, cleaning out drains and cutting weeds."

"The city hasn't been formed yet," Allison countered. "It doesn't have a budget. It hasn't decided how many employees it would have."

An election would have to be held to decide the incorporation issue. Sinotte proposed separate ballots for separate communities if and when such an election is held. If it's held valleywide, as currently structured, he said, the election would be a "mockery of democracy."

"He's trying to chop it up into little pieces," Robinson said. "That's an awfully parochial view of a much larger community."

But he said that if Sinotte's own community at the mouth of Carmel Valley doesn't want to be included in the city, "That's not a problem. We can draw a line to take you out. Just let us know."

Each side of the incorporation issue claims that developers are supporting the opponent's side.
"Developers are funding this incorporation process with large infusions of money," Sinotte said, "and... at least one developer is negotiating behind closed doors with LAFCO and county officials on behalf of the undecided, indecisive city-proponents."

The Local Agency Formation Commission is the body that will rule on the incorporation proposal.
But Allison called that Orwellian.

"As one of 400 small contributors to the incorporation effort," he said, "I'm perfectly well aware of who's paying for it -- as is Sinotte."

Karen Ravn can be reached at 646-4358 or kravn@



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