The Land Use Report

The FORA Regional Urban Design Guidelines

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Friday, July 3, 2015

FORA.org

FORA.org

Deciding upon the future development of Fort Ord is the single biggest planning challenge facing the people of Monterey County. At least, that’s my opinion. Certainly almost everyone will agree that what happens on Fort Ord is very important. Currently, an environmental review process is underway with respect to the proposed “Monterey Downs” development. The land proposed for this development is currently located in an area under the jurisdiction of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, but the developers want to build their horse-themed residential development within the City of Seaside. Current City leaders seem quite enthusiastic, and the City of Seaside has assumed the role of “Lead Agency” for the required review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

After that review is complete, and before Seaside can take any final action to approve the “Monterey Downs” development, the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, is going to have to agree that the land proposed for development can be annexed to Seaside. If it is, then the City Council could give final approval.

I urge Monterey County residents, including residents in Seaside, to get involved right now in this process. Listeners might also like to engage with the development of a set of Regional Urban Design Guidelines that the Fort Ord Reuse Authority is developing. There is more information at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

FORA Design Guidelines Questionnaire

FORA Website on Regional Urban Design Guidelines

FORA Website

City of Seaside Website

City of Seaside EIR Website

Monterey Downs Website

City of Seaside Presentation on Monterey Downs

LandWatch Monterey County Letter on Monterey Downs EIR

Sierra Club Letter on Monterey Downs EIR

Keep Fort Ord Wild Website

Monterey County LAFCO

Some Preemption Basics

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

URGE.org

URGE.org

On June 26th, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Obergefell case, holding that state laws preventing, or penalizing, marriage between two persons of the same sex are unconstitutional. The United States Constitution trumps any state (or federal) law that is inconsistent with the Constitution, so no state can now prohibit same sex marriage.

A friend raised a concern about the relationship of the decision to local land use regulations. The concern was that this case might lead to a general preemption of state and local laws designed to protect the environment, on the basis that the federal government has the right to overturn state and local laws on any topic. Is that what the Obergefell case means?

The short answer is that the constitutional principles upon which Obergefell is based are not a precedent for preempting and overturning state and local laws on other subjects. However, the Constitution does give the federal government the right to regulate “commerce,” and when the federal government acts, in an area in which it is entitled to legislate, federal laws are the “supreme” law of the land. We can celebrate Obergefell without any worry that it has any hidden negatives affecting land use. But concern about corporate domination of the federal government, and the use of federal laws to preempt local and state measures that protect the public health, safety, and welfare are right on target!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Supreme Court Decision in Obergefell

Roosters!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Monterey County

Monterey County

Cock a doodle do! Depending on where you live in Monterey County, this may be a wake up call you hear quite frequently, and it may not be a wake up call that you actually want to hear. As frequent listeners know, the land use and regulatory powers of local government are “plenary,” which means that local government agencies have broad discretion to establish whatever rules and regulations such agencies believe will advance the public health, safety and welfare.

Monterey County Ordinance 5249 requires a permit for “Rooster Keeping Operations,” which means you need an official County permit, or an exemption, in any case where five or more roosters are kept on any single property within the unincorporated areas of Monterey County

The purpose of the Monterey County Rooster Ordinance is to balance the legitimate interests of agricultural businesses and agricultural educational organizations with the prevention of rooster keeping that is unsanitary, environmentally damaging, inhumane, and conducive to illegal cockfighting. Starting in the middle of July, no “Rooster Keeping Operation” can legally operate in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County without either a permit or an exemption.

I have put a link to the County’s Rooster Ordinance website in today’s Land Use Report blog. You can find that, as always, at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Monterey County Rooster Website

Overgrowth And Overshoot

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Global Population Speakout.org

Global Population Speakout.org

Two weeks ago, I tried, in my own modest way, to create some sort of groundswell of social media recognition for a campaign sponsored by Global Population Speakout. Overpopulation and overdevelopment are serious issues, both globally and locally, and land use practices definitely reflect how we approach these serious topics. A campaign to raise public awareness of the issues is being spearheaded by an organization called Global Population Speakout, and the group has published a truly striking, coffee-table sized book that can be viewed online. If listeners are interested, they should track down today’s Land Use Report blog, at kusp.org/landuse.

Now, here is what I was hoping to accomplish. I was hoping that listeners might be motivated to “advertise” the Overpopulation/Overdevelopment campaign by posting some information about it on their Facebook pages, or to their Twitter accounts, to get the word out. Let me reiterate the offer I made back on June 16th. If you will use whatever social media you might be involved in to advertise the campaign, and will let me know you did that, I will put your name into a drawing to win a free copy of the actual print version of the Overpopulation/Overdevelopment/Overshoot book. But you will need to do that today! I am encouraging you to get engaged!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

June 16, 2015 Land Use Report – Overshoot

Website: Global Population Speak Out

The Book: Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

Contest Rules and Procedures

A Special Meeting Tonight

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Monday, June 29, 2015

East County Magazine.org

East County Magazine.org

The Ralph M. Brown Act, enacted in 1953, starts off with a declaration central to our idea of self‑government:

“The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

If we are to “remain informed,” we need to watch carefully what local government agencies do. The Brown Act is intended to guarantee the right of the public to know what’s happening. There are very definite rules that government agencies must follow. Normally, they must meet on a regular schedule, but if there is a need for a meeting outside that normal schedule, special notices have to be provided.

Tonight, the Board of Directors of the Marina Coast Water District is holding a “Special Meeting,” pursuant to the Brown Act, including a closed session, and will decide whether or not to submit a comment letter on the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project Draft Environmental Impact Report. That could be a very important letter. Here’s the catch, the General Manager says if you want to know what is in the letter, you will have to come to the meeting in person. He doesn’t have it ready yet. Concerned listeners might consider going to that meeting.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Marina Coast Water District Website

Board Agenda, June 29, 2015 Special Meeting

Ralph M. Brown Act

Salt Management

Friday, June 26, 2015

PVWMA

PVWMA

How often do you think about salt and nutrient management? I bet you don’t think about that topic very often. Would I be wrong to say you have never thought about it?

If you are a farmer with lands within the boundaries of the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, or PVWMA, which includes areas in both South Santa Cruz County and North Monterey County, I bet you have done at least some thinking about salt and nutrient management. The Agency has definitely been doing some thinking about that topic, because virtually all the water delivered within the boundaries of the PVWMA comes from groundwater resources. That includes not only agricultural water, but also the water that makes life possible for the residents and businesses located in the City of Watsonville, and in Pajaro, and in other rural areas within the District’s boundaries. The quality of our groundwater can be profoundly degraded if we don’t stop groundwater contamination by the excessive leaching of salts, and by nutrients that leach into our groundwater after fertilizers are applied to agricultural fields.

On July 2nd, that’s Thursday next week, there will be a Salt and Nutrient Management Plan Stakeholder Workshop. The Workshop will be held at 10:00 a.m. in the PVWMA Water Resources Center Conference Room, 500 Clearwater Lane in Watsonville. There is a lot more information in today’s transcript at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency Website

Salt/Nutrient Management Plan Committee

Big Secret: Who Are They Going To Sue?

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

SCCRTC.org

SCCRTC.org

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission is holding a “Special Meeting” at 9:00 o’clock this morning. There are only a few items on the Regular Agenda, so my bet is that the “big item” for this “special meeting” is a proposal that the Commission sue somebody, and any discussion about that will take place behind closed doors.

You may remember that the Santa Cruz City Council held a “closed session” during the Council’s meeting on Tuesday. In that case, members of the public at least knew that the Council would be discussing the possible sale or other disposition of city-owned property, presumably to facilitate a development project called “Pacific Station.” In the case of the Commission’s closed session scheduled for this morning, here is all we’re being told:

CLOSED SESSION

Conference with legal counsel – anticipated litigation. Initiation of Litigation pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) of Section 54956.9 of the Government Code: one case.

I have put a link to the Ralph M. Brown Act in today’s transcript. It is the Brown Act that sets up the rules for closed sessions. The Commission’s agenda clearly contains a typo, because the cited code section does not exist. There is a paragraph (4) of subdivision (d), though, and it doesn’t require the Commission to say anything about what this litigation might be about. Could it be about the rail line? That would be my guess. So far, it’s a big secret!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Transportation Commission Agenda – Special Meeting of June 25, 2015

Ralph M. Brown Act

What About That Slant Well?

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MPWSP.org

MPWSP.org

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Residents on the Monterey Peninsula are not only affected by the current drought, as everyone is; they are also affected by an order directed to the California American Water Company, requiring Cal-Am to stop taking over 7,000 acre feet of water per year from the Carmel River. Cal-Am’s response to the need to come up with an alternative water supply has been called the “Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.” The proposal is to pump seawater from a “slant well” located near Marina, and then to desalinate that water to produce a fresh water supply.

Today, at 2:30 p.m., in the Conference Room of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, the so-called “Governance Committee” for the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply project is going to be evaluating the project’s status. Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett is the Chair of the “Governance Committee,” but the word “governance,” is just a bit of a stretch. Cal-Am is a private corporation, regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, so there is no direct local government control over that corporation or over the water supply project. Given an opportunity to put themselves in direct control, Peninsula voters opted to stick with the private corporation.

Recent reports indicate that there has been some sort of problem with the test slant well that Cal-Am drilled to prove the concept of its proposed project. Today’s meeting might be revealing of what’s in store for the future for the Peninsula’s water supply.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

State Water Resources Control Board Order WR 2009-0060

Coast Weekly Article On Slant Well Problems

June 24, 2015 Agenda of Governance Committee

Governance Committee Website

MPWSP Website

The City Council Does Shakespeare

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Santa Cruz Shakespeare

Santa Cruz Shakespeare

The Santa Cruz City Council meets today, and there are a number of interesting items on the agenda. Some of them are going to be discussed in a “closed session,” meaning that the public won’t know exactly what’s going on, just that something is going on. Specifically, the Council is going to discuss a proposed “Pacific Station” development project, involving the sale or other disposition of city-owned property on Laurel and Front Streets.

At 1:00 p.m., on its Consent Agenda, the Council will address emergency funding for the Homeless Services Center, and proposed amendments to the contract that the City has with the Downtown Management Corporation. Those items might even be connected, since the closure of the Homeless Services Center will definitely have a big impact in downtown Santa Cruz. The Council is also planning to take final action on its 2016 fiscal year budget, and to adopt an extension of the Cowell Beach/Wharf public access policy, and to authorize negotiations with Santa Cruz Shakespeare for the use of an area in Upper DeLaveaga Park for a summer theatre series beginning in 2016. Consent Agenda items are not acted upon behind closed doors, but they are usually not discussed, either. Not unless someone asks for discussion.

On the regular agenda, there may be some discussion of a “Corridor Planning Process and Rezoning Update.” Discussion of a “paddling program” on the San Lorenzo River is definitely scheduled.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

June 23, 2015 City Council Agenda

Step Into Nature

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Patrice Vecchione

Patrice Vecchione

Long time listeners will remember that I often prod you all to get yourselves outdoors, and to experience directly the natural environment we are so privileged to inhabit. Land use policy and project decisions definitely affect our future, and very notably affect our relationship with the natural environment. Nature is not a “concept,” though; it’s a living reality, and today I have a mini book review in connection with my often-repeated advice to “Step Into Nature.”

Step Into Nature, in fact, is the title of a recently published book by Monterey artist and poet Patrice Vecchione. Check out kusp.org/landuse for more information. I wish I had known about this event in time to give you an advance warning, but Patrice Vecchione led a “Step Into Nature” benefit for Elkhorn Slough last Saturday. How about a combination Nature Walk and Writer’s Workshop to benefit the Slough? Wonderful! But that was last Saturday. I bet there will be other opportunities in the future. In the meantime, read this book!

As the “Introduction” advises, each chapter of Step Into Nature contains items for inspiration and inquiry, plus suggestions, activities, and resources. “Step Into Nature!” That’s great advice. And I won’t let you forget about all those meetings, either, where the policies are forged that will either protect Nature or destroy it.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Step Into Nature

The Patrice Vecchione Facebook Page

Girlhood And A Santa Cruz Discovery

Upcoming Events With Patrice Vecchione:

  • July 11: Carmel Valley Library Collage Workshop For Teens (831-883-7542)
  • July 18: Carmel Valley Library Poetry Workshop (831-883-7542)
  • July 19: Davenport Reading & Workshop (Davenport General Store, 11 a.m.)