Thursday, June 24, 1999
Heard It All Before
Thanks to the Coast Weekly for your balanced coverage of the Armstrong Ranch development [June 10-16]. Both sides to the debate got fair and impartial coverage.
However, I must take exception to many of Gibson Speeno's statements, such as "the expanded tax base from the ranch may be helpful in funding needed schools, parks and recreation facilities, and enabling an improved level of library, public safety and other municipal services."
In his new book, Better Not Bigger (New Society Publishers, 1999), Eben Fodor cites study after study that demonstrate how residential growth raises taxes. Land-intensive city-edge growth, such as the proposed Armstrong Ranch development, consistently costs more in public services than it pays in taxes. There are dozens of these studies and they all come to the same conclusion: new subdivisions reach into the pockets of established residents to finance additional schools, parks and services.
When I mentioned this to Mayor Jim Perrine at a recent meeting of Marina 2020 Vision, he said that the Armstrong Ranch project would include commercial development so that the taxes generated would at least equal the costs of additional services. In other words, the Armstrong Ranch development would, at best, pay for itself. Yet, the citizens of Marina have heard this story before. When a large development north of Reservation Road was proposed, a new shopping center, including a major supermarket, was promised. Instead we got a K-Mart.
We know that Gibson Speeno will build the single family homes. But who can say if the commercial development will ever take place? The bottom line is that the Armstrong Ranch development could end up costing the people of Marina a lot of money, as well as endangering our water supply, creating traffic congestion, and forever degrading our small town ambiance.
Thank you for your fine article on urban growth boundaries [June 10-16]. The alternative to establishing urban boundaries is to allow growth to occur until no open space and agricultural land remain. At that point, the choices are to increase density or stop growth--the same choices we have today.
It seems to me that making choices today to preserve our quality of life for ourselves and future generations is called wisdom, not "social engineering," as claimed by one of those interviewed in your article.
Public transit, efficient energy use, lower water consumption, affordable housing and good air quality are just a few of the added benefits of compact communities. These are choices that many do not have today. Just developing at the density of Carmel-by-the-Sea would save hundreds of valuable acres of productive farm land. I don't hear many complaining about living in that community!
Thank you for your recent article on urban growth boundaries. One would think that establishing some level of certainty about where future development could occur would be welcomed. However, judging by comments from some in the real estate community in your article on urban growth boundaries, they seem to have grown accustomed to the battles over contentious land- use issues. I say, "Hooray for LandWatch."
In light of the amount of land (usually prime agricultural land) that is being used up for each new 1,000 residents, I think we need to get some reasonable and responsible growth boundaries in place. I appreciate the time and effort that LandWatch put into their "State of Monterey County 1999" report and encourage others to look for it on the LandWatch Web site at http://www.landwatch.org.
SEASIDE PLANNING COMMISSION
The June 3 Vote Watch reported that the Marina City Council voted 4-1 to approve design plans for a county animal shelter, with Councilmember Ken Nishi casting the single "no" vote. However, the council's vote was actually unanimous.