The Land Use Report

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

Carmel Meets The Public Records Act

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Friday, August 22, 2014

California Watch.org

California Watch.org

I am in favor of citizen self-government, and it seems obvious that if the people are going to be in charge of their government, the people need to know what their government is doing.

The California Constitution says this right upfront. Article I, Section 3(b)(1) provides: “The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.” The Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act outline in detail how this access is to be provided. You can review today’s transcript at kusp.org/landuse for some useful links, including a video of a presentation I made, in January 2013, to the Monterey Peninsula Chapter of the League of Women Voters, entitled “Keeping Government Honest.” In short, you (personally) have the right to have public documents provided to you on an expeditious basis.

In the City of Carmel-By-The Sea, a number of citizens have been complaining that these requirements for full public access to public documents have been honored more in the breach than by observance. A recent news article reports that the City Attorney has held a special public presentation, to confirm that the City will, indeed, make public documents available with <quote> “as little fuss as possible.” If that weren’t done, the City could actually be sued.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

August 15, 2014 Pine Cone Article on Brown Act Compliance (See Page 3A)

Online Information on the Brown Act

The Ralph M. Brown Act

California Public Records Act

Pocket Guide To The Public Records Act

California Constitution – Article 1

Gary Patton Presentation – Keeping Government Honest

Rebels With A Cause

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

RebelsPOSTER_med-final_enewsThe “unhidden agenda” of this weekday Land Use Report is to stimulate your personal participation in the land use decision-making process. Land use policy and project decisions can have major impacts on our future. The decisions we make about how to “use” the land have economic, environmental, and social consequences. Whatever “side” you may be on (and there are usually a minimum of at least two different views about any significant land use matter), it’s important for you to get personally engaged. That’s the message of the Land Use Report.

If you’d like to see how this kind of personal engagement works, in real life, I’d like to give you a “heads up.” Rebels With A Cause, a movie narrated by Francis McDormand, will be shown on Thursday, August 28th (one week from today) at 7:00 p.m., at the Hidden Valley Music Seminars facility in Carmel Valley.

This movie tells the David and Goliath story of one of America’s most visited, and arguably its most beautiful, urban national parks – the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The citizens who made it all happen were “unpaid and crazy,” and successfully battled the most powerful opponents of their day in both industry and government, setting new precedents for protecting open space and helping to shape the environmental movement as we know it today.

There is more information at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

The CVA Newsletter

Rebels With A Cause Website

Hidden Valley Music Seminars Website

Gary Patton July 2013 Blog Announcement – Rebels With A Cause

Monterey Downs

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Keep Fort Ord Wild,org

Keep Fort Ord Wild,org

Monterey Downs is a proposed 550-acre, 1,000-home, 500-apartment development in the Parker Flats area of the former Fort Ord, which is located about one-half mile from Cal State Monterey Bay. The proposed development would also have a 6,500 seat covered arena, a 1-mile horse race track, 1,000 horse stalls, two 200-room hotels, and a major retail shopping area. A gambling facility might be added in the future.

I had heard that the City of Seaside was planning to host a presentation on the proposed development at its City Council meeting tomorrow, but the latest word is that this presentation will not take place. You can check the City Council agenda, online, to verify the status of this possible presentation.

The Monterey Downs development, if ever approved, could have big impacts on the Peninsula, environmental, economic, and otherwise. Because of its possible adverse environmental impacts, a full‑scale Environmental Impact Report, or EIR, will have to be prepared prior to any governmental approval. A Draft EIR is due out around the end of August. Thereafter, members of the public can provide specific comments on that Draft. A Final EIR will have to respond to all of the comments made.

Now would be a good time to start getting involved! Read up on the proposal, and clear your decks to participate in the environmental review process!

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Seaside City Council Agenda Website

Monterey Downs Website

Keep Fort Ord Wild Website

New York Times Article On The Del Mar Racetrack

Monterey Bay Partisan Public Comments

Prescriptive Rights / Martins Beach

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Prescriptive Rights / Martins Beach

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation

KUSP listeners may have been reading about a struggle over beach access at Martins Beach, located just north of Santa Cruz County, along the San Mateo County coast. Historically, Martins Beach has been open to public access, by way of a road that heads to the beach from Highway One. The road is, and has been, a privately owned road, but the public has used the road, for many years, to get access to the coast.

In October 2010, a relatively new owner of the property over which the road goes decided to shut off public beach access – and he did! The owner is one of those legendary Silicon Valley “Billionaires,” to use a characterization from the Los Angeles Times. According to Charles Lester, the Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, this action in closing the road was illegal, in the absence of a permit from the Commission. Lawsuits, state legislation, public protest, and controversy have all ensued since the road was closed.

Most recently, the Coastal Commission has been exploring the idea that the public has acquired an actual legal right to use the road by way of “prescriptive rights.” Continued public use of private property, over a period of more than five years, can actually transfer a legal ownership right to the public. If you have been to Martins Beach, and want to take part in the Coastal Commission survey, find today’s transcript at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information:

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

LA Times Article on Martins Beach

San Jose Mercury News Article On State Legislation

The City Project Blog on Martins Beach

Charles Lester Article on Martins Beach

Coastal Commission Prescriptive Rights Survey

Article On Surfrider Foundation Lawsuit

Scrapping The Affordable Housing Mandate

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Unitarian Church

Unitarian Church

Measure J is a comprehensive growth management ordinance adopted by Santa Cruz County voters in 1978. It includes this requirement: “It shall be the policy of Santa Cruz County that at least 15 percent of those housing units newly constructed for sale or rental each year shall be capable of purchase or rental by persons with average or below average incomes.”

To carry out this voter mandated requirement, the County enacted an ordinance requiring developers who construct housing to offer a percentage of those constructed units at a below market price level. Both Measure J and the County’s program focus on “construction.” The builders who actually “build” housing are charged with the responsibility to “build” affordable units.

The County staff is now recommending that this thirty-five year old program be scrapped. Instead of having to “build” affordable housing, builders could choose to pay a fee, instead, and then be excused from further responsibility. The County would get money, not actual housing units.

This proposal does not seem to meet the test of Measure J, which requires (on a year by year basis) that at least 15% of the housing units “newly constructed … each year” be capable of purchase by an average or below average income person.

If you care about affordable housing, let the Board of Supervisors know what you think. There is more information at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

August 19, 2014 Board Agenda

Agenda Item #66 on Affordable Housing