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The CV Feasibility Studies

A Lesson in Slieght of Hand Statecraft

When pro-city petitioners were gathering signatures in 2002, many Carmel Valley residents were assured that a successful petition drive would only initiate a preliminary feasibility study, and nothing more. Few were told that the petition procedure mandated the actual legal process leading to a possible City. Later, Carmel residents again were told that the process would stop if the preliminary feasibility study found it uneconomical to incorporate. However, LAFCO officials in Monterey County admitted that they could not find a single feasibility study commissioned in California that did not favor the creation of a new city.

Despite the hard financial times for the state of California and for many cities since 2001, the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis that was released in January of 2005 showed that it was feasible to create a Carmel Valley City. If the city of Salinas does not have the financial ability to keep their three libraries open, how could a rural area be financially capable of starting up a new City?

The numbers in the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis study are cooked. It is a bare-bones city with almost no funding; this being the only way to show that it is economically feasible to incorporate Carmel Valley. For instance, the 2003 general fund revenue for near-by Carmel-by-the-Sea is $2,548 per capita. The feasibility study shows only $468 per capita in the third year of operations for a CV city.

Also troublesome are the countless unfunded mandates that a City must support. The mayor of Salinas and LAFCO commissioner, Mayor Caballero warned about these unfunded mandates in a hearing on Jan. 24, 2005; cautioning about cities being forced to provide affordable housing quotas, clear water systems, elections, buildings for public meetings, etc. An unincorporated area does not have to worry about these mandates. But none of these issues are addressed by the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis.

Furthermore, due to new state and federal standards for roads, a CV city will eventually have to rework its roads and that will be extremely expensive, perhaps over $100 million. Lew C. Bauman from the Public Works Department of Monterey County has reported that Carmel Valley roads need $3 million to $4 million a year just for maintenance. The Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis budgeted just $300,000 per year for road repair.

Nitrates in the soil will likely require a complete 12-mile long sewer system that will disrupt the environment. Federal and state water quality standards could force a Carmel Valley City to replace its mainly septic system with a massive public sewer system and sewage plant at the mouth of the valley. The full feasibility study is silent on these possible costs. Every City in Monterey County has a public sewer system. Most areas like Monterey and Marina had septic system originally, but changed over when they incorporated or when a particular area was annexed to a City. There is no incorporated city in Monterey County which allows septic systems, although most started with such a system.

The Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis is available online at LAFCO’s website:

Caballero, mayor of Salinas, Monterey County's largest city, said a city "has a lot of obligations that unincorporated areas don't," including providing public facilities for meetings and city business, meeting affordable housing quotas, cleaning up any runoff water from storm drains, holding elections and paying for programs the state requires but doesn't fund.

source for Caballero's quote: Monterey Herald – Jan. 25, 2005

Last Updated: Dec 06, 08

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