More than six years in the making, Monterey Downs—a proposed mega-development on the former Fort Ord—will die an unceremonious death when the Seaside City Council meets Thursday, Dec. 1.
That became official in a Nov. 30 letter Monterey Downs, LLC attorney David Watson sent to Seaside, which stated Downs developer Brian Boudreau had "no intention of proceeding with the project," and that the LLC will not accept any liabilities associated with it.
The City Council’s Dec. 1 agenda includes a recommendation to rescind all approvals of Monterey Downs (which was recently renamed Monument Village) except for its environmental impact report, which the council approved Nov. 10.
But after Watson's letter was received, the city posted a new agenda for a "special" City Council meeting that same night.
And on that agenda is a recommendation to consider de-certifying the EIR.
That means the nail is in the coffin for the project.
All this comes after City Manager Craig Malin went to Calabasas Nov. 21 to meet with Boudreau and other partners with Monterey Downs, LLC. At that meeting, Malin says, he impressed upon Boudreau and his partners the importance of signing an indemnification agreement, which would place all the legal liability related the project on the LLC, and not Seaside.
The next day, Downs attorney Beth Palmer sent an email to Malin informing him that Boudreau would not be signing the indemnification agreement, and to cease all activities related to the project for which the city would seek reimbursement.
The activist groups Keep Fort Ord Wild and Landwatch, which had long threatened to sue Seaside if its City Council approved the project, both filed lawsuits against the city Nov. 28.
In recommendations to City Council for the Dec. 1 meeting, city staff recommend sending the project back to the Planning Commission “for consideration of further project revisions that [Boudreau] may wish to propose.”
However, there is no indication Downs, LLC had an intent to propose anything, and it now appears certain the project will never come back the Planning Commission in any form.
Boudreau did not answer his phone, and his voicemail inbox was full.
His company, Monterey Downs, LLC, is intended to maintain a balance of $200,000 with the city to cover planning costs.
The city sent Boudreau an invoice Nov. 16 for approximately $303,000.
That means if Boudreau walks away now, Seaside is out $103,000 it recently spent, over and above the required balance.
Before the letter came to the city from Watson, Malin said the city would continue to work within the parameters of the exclusive negotiating agreement, which expires March 3 and precludes the city from entertaining other proposals on the project site.
“This is a long-term project and plans can get better,” Malin said, adding that the recommendation to council “reduces liability and provides opportunity for improvements.”
Also before today's news came, Keep Fort Ord Wild co-founder Michael Salerno said the city can’t just “cut and paste” a new project onto the EIR.
“The EIR is still severely flawed, and the project should not be revived in any form,” Salerno said.
After a six-year fight, Salerno, along with other members of Keep Fort Ord Wild, as well as Landwatch, finally got their wish: Monterey Downs is dead for good.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated, based on Watson's letter and the special meeting agenda, from a story that appears in the Dec. 1 issue of the Weekly.
Clarification 12/1/16: An earlier version of this story read that Craig Malin met with Boudreau in Calabasas; in an email, Malin writes that he met with all Monterey Downs, LLC partners, not just Boudreau, whom Malin calls a "minority" stakeholder.