The Land Use Report

Adventures In The Environment

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Watsonville Wetlands Watch.org

Watsonville Wetlands Watch.org

I tend to be a “public meeting” kind of a guy. After all, I spent twenty years as an elected member of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, and if you have a job like that, you had better like public meetings! I continue to advocate your active involvement in public meetings of all types, and I will continue to highlight opportunities for you to get engaged in these meetings as a way to help forge the future of our local communities through effective action on the land use policy and project items that will have such an important impact on our local economy and environment, and even on how successful we are in attaining our social equity goals.

I do want to say to those who are not quite so enamored of public meetings that I also advocate getting out into the natural environment. The “Land Use Links” I talked about yesterday, and that are found in the transcript of each KUSP Land Use Report, will give you some good ideas of organizations that are focused on the actual natural environment, in real life. You can review the list at kusp.org/landuse.

Today, let me note that the Elkhorn Slough Foundation will be sponsoring an Open House and Native Plant Fair tomorrow. Watsonville Wetlands Watch also has a great event scheduled for tomorrow, a Habitat Festival and Native Plant Sale.

Think about getting out and about in our wonderful environment this Saturday!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Elkhorn Slough Foundation Events Calendar

Watsonville Wetlands Watch Event on September 27th

Activating

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Creative Resistance.org

Creative Resistance.org

Huge public demonstrations were held last weekend, most notably in New York City, but also in other places around the country. The purpose of these gatherings, the “People’s Climate March,” was to dramatize the need for effective action on global warming. Some KUSP listeners may actually have taken part in the main demonstration in New York City. I bet others did take part in one of the local demonstrations.

The fact that we have just witnessed such an outpouring of citizen action on what may be one of the greatest challenges that we have ever faced (“We have met the enemy and he is us.”), leads me to talk today about activism closer to home. I often say that the “unhidden agenda” of this Land Use Report is to inspire public involvement in the land use policy and project decisions that will so profoundly affect our future. The best way for any individual to do that is to get involved with one or more groups that have organized to have an impact on the public decision making process.

In Monterey County, LandWatch Monterey County is such a group. So is the Carmel Valley Association. So is Keep Fort Ord Wild. In Santa Cruz County, the Sierra Club, the California Native Plant Society, and NOPOC are groups organized to have an impact. The “Land Use Links” you can find in today’s transcript will give you lots of ideas for how you can get engaged.

I say, go to it!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Pogo – We Have Met The Enemy

Website For The People’s Climate March

Keep Fort Ord Wild

LandWatch Monterey County

The Carmel Valley Association

Santa Cruz County CNPS

Sierra Club, Santa Cruz County Group

NOPOC

Field Trip To The Ferrini Ranch

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LandWatch.org

LandWatch.org

The Ralph M. Brown Act is the state’s “Open Meeting” law. The provisions of the Brown Act are somewhat complex, but the basic message is crystal clear. Every local government agency in California must make it decisions in “open,” “public” meetings, and the public must be permitted to attend and participate in any meeting held by any local government body. There are some exceptions, but there aren’t many. Never hesitate to inject yourself into any local government meeting, and to speak up. That’s your right as a citizen.

One way the requirements of the Brown Act play out in real life is being illustrated today by a “field trip” scheduled for the Monterey County Planning Commission. The Commission cancelled its regular meeting, generally held at the County Government Center, and instead is meeting at Toro Park, to take a field trip to the nearby “Ferrini Ranch,” where a major development is being proposed. Because of the requirements of the Brown Act, members of the public are welcome to attend. If you’d like to go on the field trip, show up at the first parking lot to the right of the Toro Park Kiosk at 10:00 a.m. this morning. The field trip will involve caravanning to several different locations on the project site, and then some walking at those locations. Questions will be in order.

I have put some information at kusp.org/landuse. Think about seeing this proposed project up front and personal!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Ralph M. Brown Act

Attorney General’s Guide to the Brown Act

Planning Commission Notice on September 24th Meeting

LandWatch Comments on Ferrini Ranch

County’s Ferrini Ranch Application Website

A Fracking Presentation In Salinas Today

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Tuesday, September 27, 2014

Center For Biological Diversity

Center For Biological Diversity

Today, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will be receiving a presentation on fracking. “Fracking” is a term applied to various advanced techniques for producing oil and gas. More technical descriptions talk about “hydraulic fracturing,” “acid matrix stimulation,” and “acid well stimulation treatments.” To attend this presentation, show up on the first floor of the County Governmental Center, 168 West Alisal Street in Salinas, at 1:30.

I am delighted that the Board of Supervisors is seeking information on fracking. Fracking techniques could definitely be employed in Monterey County, which already produces significant amounts of oil and gas. Fracking demands lots of water, and injects unknown toxic materials into the ground, at great depths. Many people think it poses very significant environmental risks. Today’s presentation, however, at least the formal presentation, probably isn’t going to focus on the dangers, since the presentation will be made by “DOGGR,” the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources in the State Department of Conservation. DOGGR has been taking the position that they pretty much have everything under control. I think it would be good for the Board to hear from some of the critics, too.

If you care about the possible impacts of fracking on Monterey County, you know where to be at 1:30 this afternoon!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Agenda Website – Monterey County Board of Supervisors

Center For Biological Diversity – Fracking Website

DOGGR Website

Today Items / Tomorrow Items

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Gonzales_water_tower

Wikipedia.org

Things are happening today, and things are happening tomorrow, at the local government level around the Monterey Bay Region.

Let’s take today. If you were to show up at the Monterey County Board of Supervisors’ Chambers this afternoon, at 4:00 p.m., you’d be able to see the Monterey County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, make some key decisions about the future of the City of Gonzales; these decisions will, without doubt, have a significant impact on the future of the entire Salinas Valley. What’s on tap? Well, the proposal is to expand the City’s Sphere of Influence by approximately 2,038 acres. Since Gonzales sits, like all Salinas Valley cities, in the middle of the most economically productive farmland in the world, this means a shift from agriculture to urban development. That’s what the “Sphere” delineates. If you care, you might want to be there.

And what about tomorrow? The Santa Cruz City Council is meeting tomorrow at both 2:30 and 7:00 p.m. At 7:00 o’clock, the Council will address the water rate issue I have mentioned before on the Land Use Report. At 2:30, the Council is going to consider a Development Agreement for the La Bahia Hotel and a proposal to expand a crematorium at 1927 Ocean Street Extension, a proposal that the neighbors have thought could expose them to increased danger from mercury emissions. Again, consider showing up and speaking out!

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Monterey County LAFCO Website

LAFCO Agenda Packet, September 22, 2014 Meeting

Agenda, September 23, 2014 Meeting Santa Cruz City Council

Lompico Water – Your Time To Protest

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Lompico CWD

Lompico CWD

The Lompico County Water District, located in the San Lorenzo Valley, may soon be dissolved. That is the proposal that was approved on August 6th by the Santa Cruz County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO.

If the District is dissolved, its customers will be incorporated into the San Lorenzo Valley Water District, a much larger and economically more stable public agency. Dissolving an existing public agency doesn’t happen very often, and this proposed reorganization still might not happen.

The LAFCO vote is subject to a public protest procedure, and if you are a landowner or voter within the Lompico County Water District, the time to protest is now. The deadline is 10:00 a.m. on October 6th. If, by that deadline, more than 50% of the Lompico voters protest, the reorganization will be terminated. If between 25% and 50% of either the Lompico voters or the Lompico landowners protest, an election will be called of the Lompico voters. The ballot question will be “Shall the Lompico Reorganization, as authorized by LAFCO Resolution No. 953‐A, be approved?”  A majority of those voting will determine the outcome.

In today’s transcript, I have placed links to lots of information about the LAFCO proposal, and about how to protest, if you want to do that.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz County LAFCO Website

August 6, 2014 Staff Report on Reorganization

Map of Reorganization Area

Hearing Notice / Protest Deadline

Chart Showing Protest Procedures

Landowner Protest Form

Registered Voter Protest Form

County Action on Community Services District for Lompico

Water Rates In The City of Santa Cruz

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

City of Santa Cruz

City of Santa Cruz

Get ready to be charged more! The City of Santa Cruz Water Department is planning to raise your water rates. Customers affected include not only businesses and residents in the City of Santa Cruz, but also businesses and residents in the Live Oak and Pasatiempo areas, and in parts of the City of Capitola. There will be a Public Hearing before any rate increase is adopted, and I’m giving you a “heads up,” so you can mark your calendars if you’d like to attend and be heard. The hearing on the proposed water rate increase will be held during the regular meeting of the Santa Cruz City Council, at 7:00 p.m. next Tuesday, September 23rd.

One reason for the proposed rate increase is the current drought. Most of the costs of producing water are fixed costs, so when the amount sold goes down (as it does during a drought), rates per unit have to go up, to pay for the fixed costs.

Beyond those drought-related increases, the City also proposes to raise water rates 10% per year for the next five years. As you may remember, the City has recently expended about $7 million dollars for a desalination plant project that the Council has now shelved. That spending depleted the City’s capital reserves. How much of an increase, and how to allocate the charges, are topics for discussion and debate. If you’d like to take part, don’t forget that meeting next Tuesday!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

City of Santa Cruz Website

City Council Agendas

Website Explanation of Rate Change Proposal

Get The Lead Out

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

avatar86563_10

Calguns.net

One of the items considered yesterday on the “Consent Agenda” of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors was Agenda Item #20, an environmental status report on lead contamination at the Los Altos Rod and Gun Club. The Gun Club facility is located on about 100 acres, adjacent to Castle Rock State Park in Santa Cruz County. It has been there since 1955. Shooting activities include pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting, including trap shooting at clay targets. The resulting lead contamination means potential trouble for those downstream, including customers of the Santa Cruz City Water Department.

The environmental report in the Board’s Agenda Packet is worth reading. Lead contamination is serious, but the Club is making a good faith effort to follow “Best Management Practices,” and to clean up their legacy of lead.

Often, as in this case, items on a Board of Supervisors or City Council “Consent Agenda,” items not slated for formal discussion, are among the most interesting and important items that can be found in the Agenda Packet. To be an informed member of the community, try scanning the Agenda Packets of your local City Council and Board of Supervisors, when they are released online. You might be surprised how interesting it is to be able to read what your elected officials are reading!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

September 16, 2014 Board Agenda

Consent Agenda Item #20

Environmental Report – Los Altos Rod and Gun Club

More on Cannabis / The Ballot Propositions

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

SFMCA.org

SFMCA.org

If you want to comment on whether the name “medical marijuana” should be changed to “medical cannabis,” in Santa Cruz County, today’s your day to visit the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. An ordinance that would have exactly that effect is Item #41 on the Board’s agenda. Item #42 is related, and is potentially a lot more substantive. Chapter 7.126 of the County Code establishes regulations for the “cultivation” of medical marijuana (or medical cannabis, as the county wants to call it). The Board has been receiving complaints that various persons are breaking those rules. Item #42 is a report to the Board from the County Counsel. If you are affected, as a grower or as a neighbor, you should check out the agenda item. You can find a link at kusp.org/landuse.

If you go to the Board meeting today, you could stick around for Agenda Item #43, which I think will be interesting. Supervisor Bruce McPherson is going to be giving the Board a report on what the California State Association of Counties is thinking about various state ballot propositions, including Proposition 1, a proposed $7.12 billion dollar water bond.

If you can’t make the Board meeting, but want to listen in to items you care about, there is a “Live Audio” feed. You should give that a try!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

September 16, 2014 Agenda

Agenda Item #41

Agenda Item #42

Agenda Item #43 – Letter From Supervisor McPherson

Live Audio Link

In Santa Cruz County We Call It “Cannabis”

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Wikipedia.org

Wikipedia.org

The legalization of medical marijuana has had some impacts on local land use regulation. In Santa Cruz County, the Board of Supervisors had some hot debates over what sort of regulations should apply to medical marijuana businesses, and to the cultivation of medical marijuana. The Board adopted a comprehensive regulatory program, largely codified as Chapter 7.124 in the County Code.

Local land use powers are “plenary.” If there is a rational reason for a proposed regulation, and if there is some evidence that the regulation would achieve a purpose related to the public health, safety, or welfare, a local government can probably adopt the regulation. Individual property rights are subsidiary to the community’s right to impose land use regulations, to achieve community goals. That’s the basic rule, applicable to virtually all land use related matters, including to the regulation of medical marijuana businesses.

Tomorrow, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is likely to rescind Chapter 7.124. However, before you get too excited, the Board is also likely to “reenact” the entire Chapter, at the same time, as a way of renaming “medical marijuana.” In Santa Cruz County, it looks like “medical marijuana” is going to be called “medical cannabis.” There are links at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz County Code

Board Letter and Proposed Ordinance Changes