The Land Use Report

PIP – The Prunedale Improvement Project

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Friday, December 19, 2014

TAMC

TAMC

Sometimes words like “improvement” and “development,” which seem rather forward-looking and positive, can actually disguise, rather than illuminate, what’s really going to be happening, and what is really going to be involved in the activities to which these words are applied.

“Development” always sounds great. Things are going to get better. But are things actually going to get “better” now that the Monterey County Board of Supervisors has approved the Ferrini Ranch “development”? Many would say “No.” And what about “improvement” projects? Do improvement projects always “improve” our lives? Not necessarily! One of the things you always have to consider is what the long-term impacts will be of an “improvement” project that promises short-term benefits. I am not saying that “improvement” projects don’t ever improve our lives, but I do think it’s important to look at the longer-term impacts, whenever “improvements” are being proposed. One of the good things about the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, is that CEQA requires just this sort of a longer-term and cumulative impacts analysis.

I got to thinking about this philosophical issue recently, because of the “Prunedale Improvement Project” on Highway 101. You can find out more about this project at kusp.org/landuse, and if you click on the “Slide Show” link, you will get pictures of the groundbreaking, with lots of our local politicians and a musical accompaniment! Check it out!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Prunedale Improvement Project Website

Slide Show – PIP Groundbreaking Ceremony

Transportation Agency For Monterey County Facebook Page

Monterey Bay Partisan Report on Ferrini Ranch Approval

When County Roads Fail

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

CVA.org

CVA.org

The Carmel Valley Association is a nonprofit, community-based group that exemplifies what I consider to be “best practices” in the area of community involvement in land use and planning matters. The CVA has an open membership, and follows land use and related items throughout Monterey County. The Association, in other words, doesn’t make the mistake of thinking that the only thing that counts is something that is proposed for Carmel Valley, in its own neighborhood.

Whether you live in a city, or in the unincorporated area of the county, the “general” land use related decisions of the City Council or Board of Supervisors are bound to affect you. Land use decisions aren’t just about the new subdivision, or condominium project, or shopping center proposal in your individual neighborhood. The general rules that apply to all aspects of development will have a big impact. You should get involved in land use issues, and the best way to get involved is through a group that cares about the same things that you do.

A recent bulletin of the Carmel Valley Association discusses “Why Are County Roads Failing?” I have put a link in today’s transcript. Dr. Tim Sanders outlines the “level of service” issues that are so important in land use decision-making. You might want to check it out! Check out the LandWatch Monterey County website, too, for another group that can connect up Monterey County residents with important land use decision-making matters.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Carmel Valley Association Website

Carmel Valley Association: When County Roads Fail

LandWatch Monterey County Website

Today At The ZA

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Local Wiki.org

Local Wiki.org

Last week, I tried to get KUSP listeners interested in land use actions taken at the “Zoning Administrator” level of government. As I explained then, the “ZA,” which is the shorthand name given to the Zoning Administrator, is almost always a senior staff person in a City or County Planning Department. The ZA typically makes land use decisions on smaller land use items, and the ZA’s decisions can then be appealed to either the Planning Commission or to the City Council or Board of Supervisors.

Today, let me alert you to an upcoming hearing being conducted by the City of Santa Cruz ZA. That hearing will take place this morning, at 10:00 o’clock, in the Santa Cruz City Council Chambers. A proposed recycling center on Harvey West Boulevard is Agenda Item #1. A proposed thrift shop at 1305 Water Street is Agenda Item #2. Agenda Item #3, involving property located at 101 Frederick Street, is an application to cut down a heritage oak tree.

I would encourage City residents who think that our heritage trees should be protected to take in the ZA hearing this morning, to see the system in action. There is little, if any, protection for large heritage trees in the City of Santa Cruz. If you want to cut one down, the City almost always says “yes.” It doesn’t have to be that way, of course, but unless people start caring, that’s how it’s going to continue to be.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

December 10, 2014 Land Use Report – “PC/ZA”

December 17, 2014 City of Santa Cruz ZA Agenda

Davenport: Strategic Reuse

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Local Wiki.org

Local Wiki.org

When I first began representing the Third Supervisorial District on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors (and that was, admittedly, a long time ago: forty years ago, next January, as a matter of fact), how the County government could best deal with the impacts of the operations of the Davenport Cement Plant was a major concern.

County government still has concerns about the Davenport Cement Plant, but the concerns now are about how the County government can best deal with the impacts of the cessation of operations at the Davenport Cement Plant. On the Board’s agenda today, as Agenda Item #47, is an interesting report that outlines a “Strategic Reuse Plan” for the Davenport Cement Plant. I have a link to the agenda item in today’s Land Use Report blog, and that link will take you to a copy of the forty-seven page “Strategic Reuse Plan.” The Board is not going to be taking action on the proposed Plan today; instead, the recommendation is that the Board receive written public comments on the proposed “Strategic Reuse Plan” for the next sixty days, and direct the County Planning Department to consider the comments, and then to return to the Board in March 2015 with a recommended Plan, for official Board action.

I encourage all those who have an interest in the future of the Santa Cruz County North Coast to read through the proposed Strategic Reuse Plan, and to comment, if you have comments.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Board of Supervisors Agenda – December 16, 2014

December 16, 2014 Agenda Item #47

Lots Of Land Use Tomorrow

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Monterey County

Monterey County

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors is closing out the year 2014 with an agenda tomorrow that includes lots of land use items. Last Tuesday, of course, the Board approved an extremely controversial and consequential development project, the so-called “Ferrini Ranch” development, off Highway 68. The roll call vote saw Supervisors Calcagno, Armenta, and Salinas voting “aye,” with Supervisors Parker and Potter voting “no.” Unless the courts intervene, the development will proceed as approved, and will add to the overdraft of local groundwater aquifers, add to the already horrific traffic jams on Highway 68, and spread suburban sprawl further along what has been called the “scenic” Highway 68 corridor.

The land use items on tomorrow’s agenda are not as “big” in their potential future impacts as Ferrini Ranch, but they are important. Item #14.2 would revise the guidelines for the County’s Mitigation and Monitoring Program. This program is supposed to ensure that environmental conditions placed on projects are actually followed. Item #15 makes an environmental finding about the proposed “Rooster Ordinance.” Item #16 is an ordinance on noise control. And this is only a partial list! Check out tomorrow’s agenda by using the link found in today’s Land Use Report blog, at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Agendas

Monterey Bay Partisan Comment on Ferrini Ranch

Nitrates Are Not Right!

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Friday, December 12, 2014

State of Washington

State of Washington

As residents in parts of the Salinas Valley know, nitrate pollution of groundwater is a major problem, and a major public health concern (and particularly in the Salinas Valley). So, here is some good news! The State Water Resources Control Board has developed an interactive tool to help you determine if your private water well is close to other wells with nitrate concentrations above public health standards.

This tool is called “Is My Property Near a Nitrate-Impacted Water Well?” It allows users to determine if their well is within 2,000 feet of a nitrate-impacted well. The interactive tool also includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, to help users learn more about nitrate in groundwater.

The tool was created in response to the State Water Board’s 2013 Nitrate Report to the Legislature. In announcing the new tool, State Water Board Executive Director Tom Howard said: “Groundwater contamination poses a challenge to all types of drinking water sources, requiring effort by property owners with private wells to have them tested regularly for contamination. This interactive tool provides valuable information on nitrate in groundwater, allowing property owners to make an informed decision about whether to test their private well.”

You can access the interactive tool through a link provided in today’s Land Use Report blog.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

State Water Board Interactive Tool – Press Statement

State Water Board Home Page

Nitrate Contamination Interactive Tool

Sea Otter Cascade

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Friends of the Sea Otter

Friends of the Sea Otter

Thursday, December 11, 2014

One of the amazing natural features of the Monterey Bay Region is Elkhorn Slough. I trust many KUSP listeners have experienced the Slough in person. If you haven’t, why not track down the transcript of today’s Land Use Report, which is published as a blog, at kusp.org/landuse. If you click the link to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, you can learn a lot about Elkhorn Slough, including how to get out on the properties around the Slough yourself, to get some first hand experience.

Water quality in Elkhorn Slough is a major issue, just as water quality in the Monterey Bay is a major issue. Land use affects water quality, so the right kind of land use regulations can have a major impact on the health of both the Slough and the Bay.

Today, I’d like to alert you to an extremely interesting video presentation. That presentation discusses water quality concerns at Elkhorn Slough and documents recent research results that show that sea otters are playing a vital role in helping to restore Elkhorn Slough to health. There is a link to the video in today’s Land Use Report transcript. In addition, for those who would like to know more about sea otters, I have included a link to the website of Friends of The Sea Otter, which is working for better water quality in Monterey Bay .

Check out that video, called “Sea Otter Cascade.” It provides a great example of how Nature is working to keep our environment healthy!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Video Presentation – Sea Otter Cascade

For more information, contact Grey Hayes – coastalprarie@aol.com

Elkhorn Slough Foundation

Friends of the Sea Otter

PC/ZA

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MPRPD

MPRPD

For those who follow land use issues “PC” means a local agency “Planning Commission” and “ZA” means the local agency “Zoning Administrator.” Most local governments, including both City Councils and Boards of Supervisors, establish a PC composed of citizen volunteers, and designate a ZA, who is usually a senior staff person in the City or County Planning Department. The ZA handles smaller items. The PC handles more major items. The ability to appeal decisions to a higher authority, ultimately to the City Council or Board of Supervisors, is part of the decision-making hierarchy.

The Monterey County PC will be meeting today, at 9:00 a.m. The Monterey County ZA will be holding a hearing tomorrow. Some significant items appear on both of these agendas, links to which can be found in the Land Use Report blog, at kusp.org/landuse. I invite you to take a look at what projects are being proposed.

Just to whet your appetite, the Planning Commission will be considering a proposed six‑parcel land division on River Road, bringing more development to a rural area. The Commission will also be considering a proposed new parking lot for the Palo Corona Regional Park. The ZA will be considering a number of proposals to demolish existing residential structures, to replace them with larger ones.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

ZA Agenda, December 11, 2014 Meeting

PC Agenda, December 10, 2014 Meeting

Today At 2:00

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Nacimiento River - Xasáuan Today

Nacimiento River – Xasáuan Today

This afternoon, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will hold a joint meeting with the Water Resources Agency and the Water Resources Agency Board of Directors. These agencies, which are officially separate, are mostly just the Board of Supervisors itself. The “joint meeting” announcement is a legal formality. You won’t see all sorts of non‑Board of Supervisors members when you attend.

You might want to attend! The meeting will focus on a proposed Interlake Tunnel Project. The recommendation is for a go-ahead to prepare and issue Requests for Proposal for geotechnical and final design engineering, permitting, and environmental approval, along with a financing plan. Something like $2.5 million dollars will be committed, if the agencies say “yes.” Approving the recommendation will also direct the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement, to ensure that union labor is used. This reflects a legislatively imposed requirement for this project, with state money only being available if there is such a Project Labor Agreement.

The Xasáuan Today Blog posting on December 4th noted that 11.68 inches of rain was recently received in the watershed, but that this led to almost no inflow to Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio. The proposed Tunnel Project would help maximize the effective capture and use of rainwater.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Board of Supervisors Agenda Page

Xasáuan Today Blog Posting on December 4, 2014

Land Use Tuesday In Santa Cruz County

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Monday, December 8, 2014

FHWA

FHWA

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is meeting tomorrow. Lots of important land use items are on the agenda.

Item #54, on the Consent Agenda, is a proposed Memorandum of Understanding with the Transportation Commission. Approval will lead to the development of a travel demand model, specific to Santa Cruz County, so the County can establish land use policies that will create fewer traffic jams. Or at least, that’s the hope. Item #62, the first item on the Board’s regular agenda, is a public hearing to consider proposed new Affordable Housing Regulations. Maintaining a commitment to a strong affordable housing program is important

Item #63 is important, too. That’s a public hearing on the County’s 2015 Growth Goal, a hearing required by voter-enacted Measure J. If you want more or less growth in future years, you might want to testify!

Agenda Item #64 is another public hearing. The Board will be taking testimony on proposed changes to the County’s Vacation Rental Ordinance. Finally, for those who might be affected by various planning and land use fees, the public hearing on Agenda Item #65 is where you can make your thoughts known.

I have provided links to all these items in today’s Land Use Report blog. That can be found at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

December 9, 2014 Agenda, Santa Cruz County Board

Agenda Item #54 – Traffic Demand Model

Agenda Item #62 – Affordable Housing Regulations

Agenda Item #63 – 2015 Growth Goal

Agenda Item #64 – Vacation Rental Regulations

Agenda Item #65 – Unified Fee Schedule