Valley Demands Democracy
County planners ignored months of grass-roots work to draft pro-growth area plan for Carmel Valley.
Thursday, February 28, 2002
A Carmel Valley citizens committee that has been working for months with the County wants to see its hard work taken seriously.
Members of the Carmel Valley Land Use Advisory Committee (CVLUAC) are waiting to see which draft area plan Monterey County officials will favor--an eco-friendly, little-to-no-growth plan developed by CVLUAC, or a pro-development plan that would create more buildable lots, widen Carmel Valley Road to four lanes and build a 175-room hotel at Rancho Canada.
At a Monday night CVLUAC meeting, committee members sent a clear signal to the county staff in charge of the plan''s update. The battlefield was the Web site maintained by the County planning department. Committee members want to see the County''s pro-development plan completely over-struck on the Web site, and they want the CVLUAC''s revised plan posted.
They want the staff in charge of the update to attach a note to the Web site explicitly stating that CVLUAC''s plan is the definitive version up for discussion. The committee also wants all future presentations to include talk of the CVLUAC''s plan, not the county''s version.
If the committee has its way, the county will also distribute hard copies of the revised plan to the public, with extra copies available at the Carmel Valley library and Thunderbird Bookstore.
"I have to talk with [Assistant County Administrative Officer] Jim Colangelo about it, but it sounds like a reasonable proposal," said Annette Chaplin, project manager for the General Plan Update.
"Right now there should be community dialogue--it''s a draft plan," she said, adding that the County will hold public hearings on both the area plans and the entire draft General Plan before it is finalized by the Board of Supervisors in the fall. "It doesn''t have to be so charged. But sometimes it is."
Chaplin blames the dueling plans on misunderstandings, and missed deadlines on the part of the CVLUAC.
CVLUAC members are waiting to find out if county officials will act on their proposal. They say they held several community meetings to hear public input, and worked with local residents and county staff to sketch their proposal. They then submitted it to Supervisor Dave Potter and County staff in early December 2001. Four weeks later the County published its draft General Plan, including a draft area plan for Carmel Valley.
"And lo and behold, our 35-page plan was nowhere to be seen," howls CVLUAC Secretary Glenn Robinson. "In its place, a junior County Planning staffer--who doesn''t even live in Carmel Valley, for crying out loud--had drafted--without our input, or even knowledge that this was even in the works--this new 13 page plan."
"It''s either a bad judgment call that can and should be reversed," Robinson says, "or they are acting on orders from higher up. Is this just another case of developers with deep pockets making sure a very environmentally friendly plan gets deep sixed?"