The Land Use Report

Wild And Scenic – Next Week

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Friday, September 5, 2014

VWA.org

VWA.org

This is the Land “Use” Report. Mostly, this weekday report talks about the decisions we make about how we will “use” the land. Will farmland remain farmland, or be turned into shopping centers? Will housing developments be required to provide at least some percentage of affordable housing, or not? Will we develop water supplies to meet the demands of new growth, or will we tailor new developments so that they live within the water supplies we already have?

Obviously, questions like these are critically important for our future, economically, socially, and certainly environmentally.

There is another way to think about our relationship to the land. Aren’t there places where we should just keep our big hands off? No decisions about “use” needed. We are just going to leave the land alone. The federal Wilderness Act, fifty years old this year, takes that approach.

A local nonprofit group, dedicated to wilderness protection, is the Ventana Wilderness Alliance, and I would like to give you a “heads up” about their “Wild and Scenic Film Festival,” to be held on Saturday, September 13th, at the Golden State Theatre, at 417 Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey. I am giving you time to get your tickets in advance. Check it out at kusp.org/landuse. Santa Cruz-raised movie star Adam Scott will be there in person, acting as the MC.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Ventana Wilderness Alliance Website

Buy Your Tickets Online Here

The Federal Wilderness Act

Santa Cruz Branch Line Passenger Rail Study

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

People Power.org

People Power.org

If you head on down to the Santa Cruz County Governmental Center this morning you can take in a meeting of the  County Transportation Commission. The membership of the Commission includes elected officials from the County Board of Supervisors, and elected City representatives as well. If you want to see a lot of elected officials in action (something I always encourage), this is just the right meeting for you.

Furthermore, I think that there is a very interesting item on today’s agenda. Agenda Item #17 is a report on the Commission’s Passenger Rail Study. The staff and the Commission will be focusing on the “Goals, Evaluation Metrics, and Scenarios” related to the study. In short, this item will provide the Commission (and the public) with an update on how this Passenger Rail Study is going to proceed.

When I first ran for public office, in 1974, I proposed that the existing rail line should be used for passenger traffic. Forty years later, we are getting a lot closer. If you read the staff report, you will get the idea that the Commission is serious about finding some way that the Santa Cruz Branch Line, now owned by the public, can actually help expand transportation opportunities for intra-county travel.

Think about that! Intra-county rail service could really be a “game changer” for Santa Cruz County. If you’re interested, check kusp.org/landuse, and/or head on down to that meeting this morning.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

SCCRTC Agenda Packet – September 4, 2014

“Weigh In” At The Planning Commission

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NOAA.gov

NOAA.gov

The City of Santa Cruz Planning Commission is meeting tomorrow evening. The meeting starts at 7:00 o’clock at City Hall. As usual, I have put links to more information at kusp.org/landuse.

Some listeners might like to weigh in on Item #1, pun intended. I am talking about the reference to “weighing in.” Agenda Item #1 is all about a proposal to establish a new fitness center facility at 2931 Mission Street. That is right on the outskirts of town, as you drive north on Highway One towards Davenport. The Housing Authority currently has its offices in an existing building at this location. The fitness center would occupy about 8,000 square feet formerly used for offices and storage for the Housing Authority.

The other item on the Commission’s agenda tomorrow evening also has a “housing” tie. Agenda Item #2 is a proposed ordinance that would modify the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit program. Providing property owners with the ability to construct ADUs, as they are called, is an important strategy for making more affordable housing available within the City. A handy chart in the staff report outlines the many changes that are proposed to the current program. In general, the idea is to encourage ADUs. Check today’s transcript to see the proposal, and consider going to that meeting tomorrow.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Agenda – September 4, 2014 Meeting

City Planning Commission Website

Staff Report – Toadal Fitness, 2931 Mission Street

Proposed ADU Amendments

The Marina Coast Strategic Plan

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LandWatch.org

LandWatch.org

The Marina Coast Water District is meeting this evening. If you live within the District, or if you care about the future of water availability on the Peninsula, or if you have thoughts about the future development of Fort Ord, you should probably take a look at the agenda packet.

The item on the agenda of most interest is the scheduled discussion of the District’s Five Year Strategic Plan. I have put links to the agenda, and to the Strategic Plan itself, in today’s transcript. Pages 28 and 29 outline “The Strategic Plan at a Glance.” On Page 8, there is a list of “Vision Statements.” One of those statements is the following: “We have studied ALL potential sources of water for the District (ground, surface, recycle, desal, etc.) and [have] selected supplemental sources of additional water.”

Thinking strategically, there are two basic approaches to matching water availability to water demand. One of them is to assume that water supply agencies will just have to do whatever is necessary to meet increasing demand over time. But there is another way. An alternative strategy would be to determine what water supply can be made sustainably available, taking both cost and the natural environment into account, and then saying that this is all the water that will be available, so that future developments will have to live with that limited supply, instead of new developments constantly requiring more water.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Marina Coast Water District Website

September 2, 2014 Agenda Packet

MCWD 5-Year Strategic Plan

California Flats

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Monday, September 1, 2014

treealerts.org

treealerts.org

One good way to participate in the land use decision-making process is to read and comment on the Environmental Impact Reports (or EIRs) prepared for major projects. Whenever a governmental agency is proposing a project that might have an adverse environmental impact, the agency is required to develop a Draft EIR, and then to provide time for public comment. The key to making the process work is for people actually to read these reports, and then to comment. Comments (and that includes your questions) must be taken seriously. A good example of how significant EIR comments can be is seen in the experience of the City of Santa Cruz with its proposed desalination plant. Once the City got 400+ substantive comments, the City realized that it had better “reboot.”

Today, I want to make Monterey County residents aware of a proposed project in the extreme southern part of the County. The California Flats solar project would cover almost 3,000 acres of land with solar generating facilities, converting these natural lands to an intense industrial landscape. The Draft EIR is now available. Comments are due by September 22nd. If you care about wildlife, and about the future development of Monterey County, please take a look! More information is at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

California Flats Solar Project Website – RMA Planning

Notice of Availability of EIR

EIR on Proposed Solar Project

Take A Survey On The Capitola Zoning Code

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Capitola-By-The- Sea

Capitola-By-The- Sea

Regular listeners may remember many past Land Use Reports, advising listeners that the City of Capitola was getting ready to amend its General Plan. The City finally did do that, thus enacting a new “Constitution For Land Use” in the City of Capitola.

The community’s General Plan is always the most important land use policy document governing local land use decisions, and its importance consists in the fact that virtually all land use decisions, on proposed projects and on various policy matters, must be “consistent” with the Community General Plan. That’s what the law says. If you would like to study up on how this process works, you can find a helpful link in today’s transcript. LandWatch Monterey County has published a “Best Practices Guide” called Land Use And The General Plan. It’s well worth reading.

Now that the City of Capitola has adopted a new General Plan, the City is going to have to modify its implementing ordinances to be consistent. The City’s “Zoning Code” provides specific development designations for specific kinds of properties, and outlines general rules as well. Changes to the Zoning Code are definitely coming! If you would like to be involved, the City is asking you to take a survey related to the City’s Zoning Code Update. It’s quick, and I encourage your participation. Find the link at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

LandWatch Monterey County Website

Land Use And The General Plan

Online Zoning Code Survey

Speaking of (Ground) Water

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

State of California

State of California

The Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors met Tuesday, to consider how best to deal with the District’s very significant groundwater overdraft problems. Since this Report is pre-recorded, I can’t tell you what happened, but if you don’t know already, I think you should try to find out, especially if you live in the District. The options considered by the District Board will have a lot of future impacts.

Another groundwater related item is the state’s effort to develop model groundwater monitoring criteria, to gauge the impacts of oil and gas extraction activities on groundwater. The state held a workshop on this matter on August 25th. The future of “fracking” in our region may depend on how seriously the state takes the impacts of proposed fracking operations on groundwater.

The Salinas Californian is reporting that momentum is growing to control groundwater pumping in the Salinas Valley. Whether or not new and effective groundwater pumping regulations are imposed will have a big impact on the future of agriculture in Monterey County.

Also important will be what the State Legislature does. Two bills are pending right now, Senate Bill 1168 and Assembly Bill 1739. If enacted, they would represent the first serious effort, ever, to deal with groundwater overdraft on a statewide basis.

More information on all these topics is available at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

District Website on Back-Up Supplemental Water Supply Options

Sentinel Article On “Brighter Picture” For Soquel Creek Groundwater

Salinas Californian Article – Momentum To Limit Salinas Valley Pumping

State Website on Groundwater Monitoring Program For Oil And Gas Production

Video – Economic Impacts of Fracking

Senate Bill 1168

Assembly Bill 1739

Follow the “CAG” – Plans For Highway 156

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

TAMC

TAMC

The Highway 156 CAG is the “Community Advisory Group” providing input on the proposal to widen Highway 156, from Highway 101 in Prunedale to Highway One in Castroville. The impacts of this proposal, if it comes to pass, would be very significant. You might want to get acquainted with the project, and with the members of the Community Advisory Group.

The last meeting of the Highway 156 CAG was scheduled for Monday, August 25th, but that meeting was canceled. Instead, a Highway 156 informational workshop will be held this morning, during the Board of Directors meeting of the Transportation Agency For Monterey County, or TAMC. The TAMC Board meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. in the Agricultural Center Conference Room, located at 1428 Abbott Street in Salinas. You are definitely encouraged to attend, and links to more information, including to the CAG membership list, are available at kusp.org/landuse.

Highway widening proposals are always controversial (and for some very good reasons, including cost, environmental impact, and the issue of whether or not they will make any real difference in congestion). In the case of Highway 156, the proposal includes the possible transformation of this highway into a toll road. That would be a new one around here. Consider getting involved now .

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

TAMC Website

TAMC Agendas

Highway 156 Widening Project

Highway 156 CAG Website

Highway 156 Toll Road Study

List of Highway 156 CAG Members

For more information contact Grant Leonard at TAMC:

Water Talks At Soquel Creek Tonight

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Capitola-By-The-Sea

Capitola-By-The-Sea

Local government agencies sometimes hold “Special Meetings,” and when they do that, they do need to provide special public notice. Public participation is at the heart of local self-government.

If you are a resident or business owner in the Soquel Creek Water District, get ready for an important “Special Meeting” tonight! At 6:00 p.m., at the Capitola City Council Chambers, the Board of Directors will discuss its “Conservation Plus” program and (even more important, I’d say) the District’s “Back Up Supplemental Water Supply Options.” I have put a link to a full copy of the Agenda Packet in the transcript of today’s Land Use Report, at kusp.org/land use.

It would be hard to overemphasize the importance of the decisions that the Board of Directors might make this evening. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported on Saturday that the groundwater overdraft situation in the District might not be as bad as previously thought. That late-breaking news may affect what happens. On the agenda is a proposal for the District to start working towards the construction of a local, “District only” desalination plant, or to contract to receive water from a proposed “Deep Water Desal” plant in Monterey County, or to start using “recycled water,” or to impose long-term mandatory water rationing. Other options are on the table, as well.

Think about attending that “Special Meeting” tonight!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Soquel Creek Water District Website

Board Packet – Special Meeting on August 26, 2014

District Website on Back-Up Supplemental Water Supply Options

Sentinel Article On “Brighter Picture” For Soquel Creek Groundwater

At 1:30 Tomorrow Afternoon (In Salinas)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Monterey County

Monterey County

I generally pre-record these Land Use Reports on Saturday, and before going to the KUSP studio, I try to find out what’s coming up at the local government level. Local government decisions, on both policy and project matters, are almost always the most important way that our communities make up their mind about land use issues.

Local governments are pretty accessible, too. With a little effort, you can almost always talk personally with a County Supervisor or City Council member. If you get organized, with other like-minded people, you can end up having a big impact on the local government land use decisions that affect you most. LandWatch Monterey County, local branches of the League of Women Voters, and the Monterey and Santa Cruz County Farm Bureaus are all groups that have been quite successful in giving voice to important land use concerns. Think about activating yourself on land use issues! You might find you like it!

Tomorrow, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will consider a number of important land use items. I may be there personally, in fact, addressing Agenda Item #23, the proposed new “private road” policy, though I haven’t actually been hired to do as I am recording this Report. That’s just a full disclosure comment. Check out Agenda Item #23, and Agenda Items #21 and #22, too, and see what you think. There is more information at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Agenda Website

LandWatch Monterey County

Find A Local League of Women Voters Chapter

Monterey County Farm Bureau

Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau