The Land Use Report

Subsidizing Hotel Developers

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Wikipedia Commons

Leland Stanford / Wikipedia Commons

It is not untypical for our government to give away public money and property to private developers, to stimulate behavior that our elected officials think might have public benefit. Remember the history of the railroads. This goes back to the days of Abraham Lincoln. The United States government gave away large portions of our public lands to the railroad companies, in return for construction of the transcontinental railroad. Lots of “private” benefits resulted. Several people got inordinately rich; take Leland Stanford as an example.

Locally, the Santa Cruz City Council recently voted to share tax revenues with developers who build big hotels within the city limits. This action was taken at the Council’s July 8th meeting. Council Member Micah Posner voted “no,” but the proposal otherwise had the full support of the Council. At the meeting, four members of the public testified against the proposal, and two business representatives said that these business subsidies were a good idea. Again, the Council as a whole agreed.

Not apparently a factor in the Council’s thinking was our current drought emergency. As members of the public pray for rain next year, and cut back on their current water use, their elected City Council Members are doing what they can to have more big hotels built in town, and are going to share transient occupancy tax revenues to make that happen. You can get more information at kusp.org/land use.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

July 19, 2014 Article – Santa Cruz Sentinel

July 8, 2014 City Council Agenda

Agenda Report – Agenda Item #19 – TOT Incentive Grant Program

Correspondence Received – Agenda Item #19

July 8, 2014 – Minutes of Meeting

Ideas And Strategies For Our Water Future

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

City of Santa Cruz

City of Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz County Grand Jury has issued a special report on “Desalination and Alternatives – Water for a Thirsty County.” There is a link in today’s transcript. The Grand Jury seems to believe that a desalination plant is the right way to address our current water supply crisis. The Community Water Coalition, a community group that I represent as an attorney, has questioned that conclusion. The City of Santa Cruz has also decided to explore a broad array of possible solutions, and the City is seeking public involvement.

After many negative comments were received on the City’s Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed desalination project, the Santa Cruz City Council voted to “reset” the community discussion on this topic. The Council established a Water Supply Advisory Committee, which has been directed to use an iterative, fact-based process to analyze the City’s water profile, including supply, demand, and future risks. The Committee will make recommendations to the Council on how to deliver a safe, adequate, reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable water supply.

To involve the community, the Committee asked members of the public to submit strategies and ideas for improving the reliability of the City’s water supply. The Committee is reviewing the initial ideas during a meeting being held today and tomorrow, and more public involvement is coming. So, stay tuned!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee Website

2013-2014 Santa Cruz County Grand Jury Report on Desalination

LAFCO And The San Lorenzo Valley

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

San Lorenzo Valley Water District

SLVWD

I have a fond feeling for LAFCOs, the Local Agency Formation Commissions that exist in every California county, and that are responsible, under state law, for trying to make our local government agencies more effective and efficient. LAFCOs decide whether or not new cities should be created, and whether or not annexations should be approved, and whether or not water services should be extended outside the approved water service area of agencies that deliver water. That is just a partial list of what LAFCOs do. LAFCOs also oversee the merger and/or dissolution of existing governmental agencies.

Right now, LAFCO is examining the possibility that the Lompico County Water District should be merged into the much larger San Lorenzo Valley Water District. If you live in the San Lorenzo Valley, and particularly if you receive water service from the Lompico County Water District, this is a really “big deal” for you.

In today’s transcript, available at kusp.org/landuse, I have put links to a LAFCO study on the proposed Lompico-San Lorenzo Valley Water District merger. I encourage you to take a look at the study. On August 6th, the Santa Cruz County LAFCO will consider this matter, and that means that the Lompico County Water District could be dissolved, and merged into the larger San Lorenzo Valley Water District. Again, this would be a pretty “big deal.”

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

LAFCO Study on Lompico – San Lorenzo Valley Water District Merger

August 6, 2014 LAFCO Hearing Notice

Affordable Housing In Santa Cruz County

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Low Income Housing.us

Low Income Housing.us

Santa Cruz County has commissioned a study on its affordable housing program. As I am sure you all know, affordable housing is hard to come by in our Central Coast Region. The so-called “law” of supply and demand is largely responsible. There is a lot of demand for housing in our area, and the supply is limited; thus, in an unregulated market, the price goes up. Average and below average income families are simply priced out.

Measure J, Santa Cruz County’s voter-approved growth management program, provides a partial solution. Measure J requires that housing developers actually build price-restricted affordable units, and “include” those units in their new housing developments. This is called “inclusionary housing,” and because this housing (a minimum of 15% in Santa Cruz County) is not part of the unregulated market, housing prices for those inclusionary units remain affordable over time.

Now, the County is considering, in this draft report, some proposed changes in its affordable housing program, most notably to let developers off the hook actually to build affordable units. Instead, developers would be allowed to pay money to the county. The likely result is some new financing for the County but fewer actual units on the ground.

Get links to the study and other information at kusp.org/landuse. It would be hard to overstate the importance of this issue.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz Sentinel Editorial on Affordable Housing

July 23, 2014 Sentinel Article on Proposed Affordable Housing Changes

DRAFT County Study on Possible Changes to Affordable Housing Program

Monterey County: Important EIRs

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Wikipedia.org

Wikipedia.org

Under state law, every public agency must prepare an Environmental Impact Report, or EIR, for any proposed action by the governmental agency that “might” have an adverse impact on the natural environment. Required EIR procedures are intended to ensure that ordinary members of the community can be fully informed on what the government is planning to do, before it acts, and that gives members of the public the power to demand that the government respond substantively to their comments.

The EIR process only works the way it is supposed to if members of the public in fact get personally involved. If they do, they can have a big impact on the specifics of a proposed project. If they don’t, the EIR process can turn out to be a lot of “paperwork.” As usual, I’m giving you a “pep talk” on how important it is for you to get engaged personally in land use issues.

On tomorrow’s agenda of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, three different environmental review procedures are announced. Item #56 references an EIR to be prepared for a proposed Canine Sports Center in Carmel Valley. Items #24.1 and #24.2 announce upcoming environmental reviews on Salinas River stream maintenance proposals, and a process to allocate Salinas River water rights.

Check tomorrow’s agenda for more information!

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Agenda – July 29, 2014

Fracking Made Me Move

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Friday, July 25, 2014

San Benito Rising

San Benito Rising

As I mentioned yesterday, there is a great deal of local concern about “fracking,” or “hydraulic fracturing.” Fracking is a technique for obtaining new oil resources from geologic formations that have not, up until recently, been seen as economically productive for oil and gas development. Water supply and water quality impacts can be severe.

In Santa Cruz County, the Board of Supervisors has adopted an ordinance that essentially bans fracking. In San Benito County, voters will have an opportunity in November to take a comparable action by way of an initiative measure. In Monterey County, there seems to be a real interest by oil companies to expand oil production, including by way of fracking technologies. The Monterey County Planning Commission recommended a moratorium, but the Board of Supervisors has not yet considered the matter.

If you would like to “study up” on the topic, here is a “free event” that I think will be interesting. At noon on Saturday, July 26th (that’s tomorrow), Calvin Tillman, the former Republican Mayor of Dish, Texas, is going to be speaking at the Sunnyslope Elementary School Auditorium, located at 1475 Memorial Drive in Hollister. His topic? “Why Fracking Made Me Move.” Texas has welcomed fracking, by and large. Should be worthwhile to hear from former Mayor Tillman about some of the possible downsides!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

San Benito Rising Website – Upcoming Events

San Benito Rising Website – Information and Resources

Fracking and Aquifer Contamination

Monterey County Oil

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

HCN.org

HCN.org

Here’s an upcoming public hearing item that may be of interest to all those who are following the local, statewide, and national debate about “fracking,” and continuing efforts by oil companies to increase hydrocarbon production in an era of global warming.

On Wednesday, July 30th, at 9:00 a.m., the Monterey County Planning Commission will consider a Temporary Use Permit to allow for an exploration for oil and gas, using an existing well. The permit, if granted, will be for oil exploration on property located on Jolon Road, in Bradley. The permit is being sought by the Porter Estate Company / Bradley Ranch. The Hearing Notice says, and I quote, “any and all interested persons may appear and be heard.”

As of the time I am recording this Land Use Report, the Planning Commission agenda, and the staff report on this item, are not available online. I have, however, included a link in today’s transcript to the place on the County’s website where Planning Commission agendas are posted when available. You can get more information at kusp.org/landuse.

I think that it’s good for members of the public to become informed and to join the debate about when, where, and if increased oil production should be encouraged in the Monterey Bay Region. Not only is global warming an issue, so is the impact of oil production on our scarce water resources.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Planning Commission Agendas

Google Maps – 72327 Jolon Road, Bradley

For more information on the oil exploration permit, contact:

Grace Bogdan, Project Planner

Monterey County Resource Management Agency – Planning Department

168 West Alisal Street, 2nd Floor, Salinas, CA 93901

Clearinghouse News

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

AMBAG

AMBAG

AMBAG, or the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, publishes a periodic “Clearinghouse” report that gives its readers a “heads up” on important land use related items throughout the entire AMBAG Region. That region includes San Benito County, Monterey County, and Santa Cruz County, and the AMBAG “Clearinghouse” report is a very helpful resource for anyone interested in land use items.

Unfortunately, while AMBAG publishes the Clearinghouse report on its website, the website listing always seems to be several months behind, and the greatest value of the Clearinghouse is to provide a timely notification of upcoming items. If you are interested in receiving the Clearinghouse personally, you’ll need to contact the staff planner at AMBAG. I have contact information in today’s transcript.

I was thinking about the AMBAG Clearinghouse as I prepared today’s Land Use Report because there are a lot of very interesting listings in the most recent edition, generated on July 17th. Specifically:

  • The Ferrini Ranch subdivision EIR is out for review;
  • A rehabilitation of the Santa Cruz North Coast water line is being proposed;
  • An EIR on Phase II of the Salinas Valley Water Project is underway;
  • A major modification of Main Street in Watsonville is being reviewed, and
  • A comprehensive plan for the Carmel Lagoon ecosystem is being evaluated.

Listeners may want to follow up on one or more of these items!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

AMBAG Website

Regional Clearinghouse Online Reports

To subscribe to the AMBAG Clearinghouse report, contact:

Paul Hierling, Planner

Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments

Email: phierling@ambag.org

Telephone: 831-264-5084

The Santa Cruz City Council Does Business

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

localwiki.net

localwiki.net

The Santa Cruz City Council is meeting this afternoon and evening. At 7:00 p.m., the Council will consider the relocation of the Pacific Collegiate School (or PCS). PCS is a so-called “charter school,” currently operating out of a school district facility on Swift Street, but the school district is going to reclaim their Swift Street property for public school use, and that means that PCS needs a new home. PCS proposes to relocate to 3004 Mission Street, still in the City but on the outskirts, for sure. If you are interested in this item, you can review relevant documents by clicking on the links at kusp.org/land use.

In its afternoon session, starting at 2:00 o’clock, the City Council will consider major modifications to a mixed‑use industrial/commercial/residential development proposed at 2120 Delaware Avenue. That’s Agenda Item #21, and that means that a couple of major land use changes affecting the Westside will be debated tomorrow.

The Council will also discuss a Water Shortage Emergency Status Report (Agenda Item #22), and I guess you could call the report “good news.” It says that “the overwhelming majority of customers [stayed] within their monthly allotments.” “Large irrigation accounts, including many City parks … have [also] cut back, [with] … early reports [showing] this category of customers making cutbacks of greater than 50 percent.”

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

July 22, 2014 Santa Cruz City Council Agenda

PCS Relocation

2120 Delaware Avenue Item

Water Shortage Emergency Status Report

Inclusionary Housing In Pebble Beach

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Monday, July 21, 2014

dclabor.org

dclabor.org

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors will meet tomorrow. Agenda Item #39 proposes that the Board enter into two contracts. One contract would be with a consulting firm, ICF Jones & Stokes. A related contract would be with the Pebble Beach Company. In effect, the Pebble Beach Company would promise to pay the County for the County’s costs incurred in connection with the ICF Jones & Stokes’ contract. This is a typical way that the cost of public expenditures, related to private developments, are shifted to private parties.

In the arrangement that the Board will consider tomorrow, ICF Jones & Stokes will be preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed development of 24 inclusionary housing units on Pebble Beach Company property located near the intersection of Morse Drive and Congress Road. As currently contemplated, this development would require the removal of 133 Monterey Pine and 583 oak trees. The County has the legal obligation to do a full environmental review of this proposal. ICF Jones & Stokes will do the actual work; the Pebble Beach Company will pay for it.

“Inclusionary housing” means housing that an average or below average income person can purchase or rent. If this project goes ahead, some lower income families will have the right to claim an address in Pebble Beach, certainly one of the most “upscale” places around.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Agenda, Monterey County Board of Supervisors