The Land Use Report

Litigation And Land Use #3

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Friday, January 23, 2015

LandWatch.org

LandWatch.org

LandWatch Monterey County and the Highway 68 Coalition have filed lawsuits challenging the approval of the Ferrini Ranch development by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. As approved, the project would create 185 new homesites along Highway 68. Retiring Supervisor Lou Calcagno cast the deciding vote, in one of his last official decisions.

The lawsuits claim a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. CEQA doesn’t mandate any particular decision when a development project is considered, but it does require a fully adequate analysis of all of the impacts of a proposed project. That kind of analysis did not occur, according to LandWatch and the Highway 68 Coalition. In a non-CEQA challenge, LandWatch also charges that the development is in direct violation of General Plan requirements relating to proof of water.

The challengers will have the burden of proof, and the courts will “defer” to the Board’s decision, if there is “any” substantial evidence that the Board complied with the law. These lawsuits are not automatic winners. The County should be advised though, that if they do lose, the County may end up paying the attorneys’ fees of the challengers. Recent reports say that the County has to pay LandWatch over $400,000 in connection with an earlier lawsuit on the County General Plan.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Gary Patton’s Blog on “Deference”

Planning Department Information on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Website

LandWatch Litigation on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Web Page on Ferrini Ranch

News Article on Ferrini Ranch

Monterey Bay Partisan on Ferrini Ranch Lawsuits

Litigation And Land Use #2

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

LandWatch.org

LandWatch.org

Good morning! This is Day Two of some remarks about litigation and land use. As I said yesterday, public participation, not litigation, is the best way to get the land use decisions you want. Promoting public participation, of course, is the “unhidden agenda” of the Land Use Report. Land use decisions have a big impact on our future, and becoming personally involved is your best way to have an impact on land use policy and project decisions.

That said, let’s not discount the importance of land use litigation. Litigation can play an incredibly important role in making sure that governmental land use decisions represent the public interest.

I decided to talk about litigation and land use when I found out that two different lawsuits have been filed, challenging the recent approval of the Ferrini Ranch development by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. Both LandWatch Monterey County and the Highway 68 Coalition have filed lawsuits against this development approval, but those who have been following the debate will remember that both groups have gone to court not as their first response to what they think is a bad project approval, but as a last resort.

That’s the right way to do it, and in fact, the courts actually require project opponents to have “exhausted their administrative remedies” before they come to court.

Tomorrow, I’ll comment on the claims made in the lawsuits.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Gary Patton’s Blog on “Deference”

Planning Department Information on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Website

LandWatch Litigation on Ferrini Ranch

LandWatch Web Page on Ferrini Ranch

News Article on Ferrini Ranch

Monterey Bay Partisan on Ferrini Ranch Lawsuits

Litigation And Land Use

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

UCSC Legal Studies

UCSC Legal Studies

When not recording the Land Use Report, I am an environmental attorney (and I also teach in the Legal Studies Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz). Because I am an actively practicing lawyer, I suspect that many people might assume that I am an enthusiastic promoter of litigation, as the best way to address land use policy and project matters.

Actually, that’s not true! Today, tomorrow, and Friday I am going to make specific reference to recently concluded and recently initiated litigation in Monterey County, but I want to lead off with an observation that may be surprising to some listeners. Our system of government discourages the use of the courts to make important land use policy decisions. On any substantive issue, the courts are supposed to “defer” to the land use decisions of elected officials and governmental agencies if there is “any” substantial evidence that would uphold the decision made by the government.

Judges do NOT substitute their judgment for the judgment exercised by elected officials. Even if there is overwhelming evidence that a development would have adverse impacts, as an example, the courts will allow the development to go forward if there is “any” substantial evidence that would justify a decision in favor of the development.

Public participation, in other words, not litigation, is the best way to get the land use decisions you want!

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Gary Patton’s Blog on “Deference”

Tonight: Meet At The Grange

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Californiagrange.org

Californiagrange.org

Water supply planning is underway in the Soquel Creek Water District, and in the City of Santa Cruz. The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency is also deeply engaged in planning and implementing measures to achieve a safe and sustainable future water supply. And let’s add the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and the Scotts Valley Water District. And of course most listeners will be aware of the kind of water supply planning going on in Monterey County. The State of California has stepped up, too, with a new law focused on water supply planning for groundwater resources.

Planning for future water supplies is a major governmental challenge, and the plans adopted and implemented around the Monterey Bay will have profound environmental and economic impacts. For those specifically affected by the plans of the City of Santa Cruz Water Department, be aware of a meeting scheduled for this evening, Tuesday, January 20th, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Live Oak Grange, located at 1900 17th Avenue.

Live Oak Neighbors and the Live Oak Grange are co-sponsoring this meeting, at which residents can learn about what the City of Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee is doing. Sue Holt, a member of that Committee, was specifically appointed to represent the Live Oak Area, and she will be there to engage Live Oak residents on the issues that will be directly affecting them.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Information on the Live Oak Neighbors

Live Oak Grange Website

First District Goes Facebook

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Monday, January 19, 2015

John Leopold And Staff

John Leopold And Staff

Our representative form of government will work correctly only if we, the represented, are actually in contact with the officials we have chosen to represent us. Representative democracy is not solely, or maybe even best, characterized by the process of “voting.” On a holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose accomplishments definitely include a major responsibility for enactment of the federal Voting Rights Act that helped enfranchise millions of black Americans, let me say that voting is necessary but not sufficient.

Actual, personal contact and communication with our elected officials is needed. The smaller the governmental unit, of course, the easier that is to accomplish. Because Santa Cruz County is the smallest county in the state, geographically, it is relatively easy to meet your County Supervisor. It’s a bit harder in the much larger Monterey County. We need to make the effort. And our elected officials need to reach out, too. Recently, Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor John Leopold announced a Facebook page, as a way of reaching out. Other Supervisors also have them. Check them out. That kind of digital contact is all to the good, but it’s not sufficient, either. Get in personal touch with your representatives. “Touch” means you could touch them. You might have to go to some meetings!

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

John Leopold’s Facebook Page

Leopold “Political” Website

Santa Cruz County First District Website

Santa Cruz County Websites For Other Districts

Bruce McPherson Facebook Page

Greg Caput Facebook Page

Zach Friend Facebook Page

Ryan Coonerty Facebook Page

Dave Potter Facebook Page

Jane Parker Facebook Page

Fernando Armenta Facebook Page

Simon Salinas Facebook Page

Romance In The Wetlands

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Watsonville Wetlands Watch

Watsonville Wetlands Watch

Last week, the Santa Cruz Sentinel featured a story about two docents for the Watsonville Wetlands Watch who found a human connection through that Watsonville Wetlands Watch docent program. It appeared to me, as I read between the lines, that love and romance blossomed in the wetlands. If you’d like to see the article, I have a link in today’s transcript.

I also have a link to an announcement by the Watsonville Wetlands Watch, letting interested persons know that their 2015 docent training program begins on January 21st. You could actually sign up and become a docent yourself.

No one is claiming that this docent program is going to replace eHarmony or Match.com (not to mention Tinder) as a way to make a romantic connection. Let me say, though, you might well fall in love with the wetlands environment around Watsonville if you do sign up for docent training. If you fall in love with another trainee, consider that a bonus!

Docent training is a fun and interesting way to learn about the natural and cultural history of the wetlands, and to receive training to become a field trip facilitator. The training sessions include Wednesday evening presentations and Saturday field trips, visiting sites not normally seen by the public. Among other things, Wetlands Watch trained docent volunteers lead tours, participate in special events, work in the demonstration garden, and conduct water monitoring. I encourage you to check it out.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Watsonville Wetlands Watch Website

Wetlands Watch Docent Training Announcement

Santa Cruz Sentinel Article – Docents Discover Shared Passion

For More Information on the Docent Program contact Kathy Fieberling:

  • Telephone – 831-345-1226 or by Email

 

Last Day To Register For EcoFarm

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Asilomar Conference Center

Asilomar Conference Center

I have a couple of items today that are of a “you, too, can get directly involved” character. First, let me alert you to the 35th Annual EcoFarm Conference, being held, as usual, at Asilomar in Pacific Grove. The conference runs from January 21st to the 24th.

This year, the conference will include an all-day interactive session on “Cultivating Organic Seed Stewardship,” providing attendees with an understanding of the history, culture, biology, and economics of seed. The session is intended to stimulate efforts to ensure a sustainable seed future, a critically important topic in this era of genetically modified organisms. The EcoFarm Conference will also boast a “Central Coast Livestock Producer Summit,” which will focus on the feasibility of establishing cooperative services for Central Coast meat producers. There will also be a session on “Applied On-Farm Permaculture Design,” engaging workshop participants in permaculture design methodology and principles that will help them produce design plans for their own farms and gardens. That’s just for starters.

As a second item, let me highlight an opportunity for interested persons to become a “Volunteer Naturalist” at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve. Training classes begin on January 17th.

Get more information by heading to kusp.org/landuse.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

EcoFarm Website

EcoFarm Registration Web Page

EcoFarm Conference Website

Cultivating Organic Seed Stewardship

Central Coast Livestock Producer Summit

Applied On-Farm Permaculture Design

Announcement About Elkhorn Slough Naturalist Training

Elkhorn Slough Volunteer Opportunities

Panoche Valley Solar Project

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

images

KQED

A solar project is being proposed in the Panoche Valley, located in San Benito County. I have put a link to a map in today’s transcript, to help those not familiar with Panoche Valley to figure out where it is. I have also included a link to a photo album published by the Los Angeles Times, so listeners can get an understanding of what the Panoche Valley looks like. This is a remote and beautiful location, currently agricultural. The proposed project would essentially “industrialize” it.

The current proposal is to reduce the size of a project approved in 2010, and to construct the project over a shorter, 18-month time frame, as opposed to the previously approved 5-year construction period. The applicant is also proposing revisions to various project components, and revisions to previously approved mitigation measures, and PG&E has identified necessary telecommunication upgrades. A Supplemental Environmental Impact Report has been prepared, and the public review period on that report ends on February 10, 2015. There is time to weigh in, if you care. The Supplemental EIR assesses only the impacts that may result from the proposed changes to the 2010 Approved Project and from the PG&E modifications, but does not reanalyze the impacts of the approved project as a whole.

There is more information at kusp.org/landuse.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Panoche Valley On Google Maps

L.A. Times Photo Album

Draft SEIR On Proposed Changes

For more information contact Michael Krausie – 831-636-4000

Board Agendas Today

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Land Trust Of Santa Cruz County

Land Trust Of Santa Cruz County

Both the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meet today, and in each case, the Board has a new member. This will be the first Board meeting for Santa Cruz County Third District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty and for Monterey County Second District Supervisor John Phillips.

In Santa Cruz County, Supervisor Coonerty and Supervisor McPherson are proposing that the Board adopt a “Working Lands Resolution.” Because the proposed Resolution is on the Consent Agenda, action on the item will take place without any discussion, unless someone specifically asks for more discussion. It is not completely clear what operational impacts might come from adoption of the proposed Resolution, but it speaks positively about timber harvesting, which is always a controversial topic in both the San Lorenzo Valley and on the County’s North Coast. If you want to communicate with the Board, you can attend in person, or submit a comment over the Internet, using the agenda link found at kusp.org/landuse. The proposed Working Lands Resolution is Agenda Item 30.1.

In Monterey County, the Board will consider funding for an Environmental Impact Report on the proposed demolition of the “Arthur and Kathleen Connell House,” located at 1170 Signal Hill Road, and listed on the California Register of Historic Places. That is Consent Agenda Item #19.

More Information: 

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Agenda

Monterey County Board of Supervisors Agenda Website

Santa Cruz County Board Agenda Item 30.1 – Working Lands

Information On The Historical Character Of The Arthur And Kathleen Connell House

 

Santa Cruz City Council Tomorrow

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Sierra Club

Sierra Club

Tomorrow, the Santa Cruz City Council has a number of land use related items on its afternoon and evening agenda. I was intrigued to see that in a closed litigation session, starting at 1:00 o’clock, the Council will be considering the purchase of property at 521 Front Street. There is an existing commercial building on the site, which is right near the corner of Front Street and Soquel. I hadn’t heard about any City building plans for that location, but I’m betting that the City is contemplating adding some more parking downtown. The closed session will definitely be “closed,” so interested persons won’t find out what’s going on by showing up tomorrow afternoon.

If you do show up at 2:30 in the afternoon, you can participate in a discussion about loosening the restrictions on mobile food vending and hear about the City’s parking plans for Lower Pacific Avenue. You can also participate in an item proposing new decorum rules for those addressing the City Council.

In the evening session, starting at 7:00 p.m., the Council will consider letting the Seaside Company chop down one more “heritage tree,” this one located at 701 Beach Street. If you have the impression that the City’s policy is to preserve its heritage trees, think again. If you care about protecting heritage trees, you may want to be there to testify on Agenda Item #1, to argue against the Council’s imposition of another tree death penalty.

More Information

Land Use Links

Gary Patton’s Two Worlds Blog

Agenda: January 13, 2015 Santa Cruz City Council Meeting