Groups Sue To Stop Quarry.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Alison Stewart and her husband, Dick, repeatedly told planners and elected officials that a pit mine and rock quarry, proposed to be built in the foothills of the Gabilans east of the Salinas Valley between Chualar and Gonzales, will pollute the air and water, congest Highway 101 and harm vineyards, row crops and farmworkers.
Last month, County Supervisors approved the 120-year project, proposed by Granite Construction Co., on a 330-acre parcel of the Handley Ranch, over the objections of neighbors and the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District.
Early this week, on May 17, two residents’ groups filed a lawsuit against Monterey County and Granite Construction in a final attempt to force the county to produce new environmental studies.
Alison Stewart, a founding member of Preserve Our Valley, says the Supes acted illegally by approving the project, which would produce about 1.5 million tons of aggregate rock annually.
“We would like the Board of Supervisors to consider the interest of the vast majority of citizens over the financial gains of Granite Construction,” Stewart says. “We are not opposed to a smaller project, but it needs to go through the approval process that any other project would have to go through. There are so many areas that were completely glossed over. Facts didn’t matter. We have no choice but to sue.”
Monterey land-use attorney Michael Stamp will represent Preserve Our Valley and The Open Monterey Project, the other plaintiff in the suit.
Aside from concerns about noise, the dust, air pollution and water use, there’s also the issue of open government, says Gillian Taylor, a member of The Open Monterey Project.
“We’re trying to get a better handling of projects that go through the system so that the public’s concerns are addressed properly, not steamrollered over,” Taylor says. “We want there to be some real accountability.”
Taylor says she sees a pattern where planners and elected
officials ignore the little guys and environmental
concerns in order to appease big-name companies and deep-pocketed individuals, seeking to develop in Monterey County.
At press time, Granite attorney Tony Lombardo could not be
reached for comment.
Hard Times for Local Women
Men make more money than women. And in Monterey County, the median earnings of men who work full-time, year-round are 28 percent higher than their female counterparts. Twenty-two percent of women in this county, ages 18 to 24, fall below the federal poverty line. And 30 percent of single moms with kids live below the poverty level.
There’s more: Almost one-third of Monterey County women over the age of 25 don’t have a high school diploma; and almost half of all babies are born to mothers with less than a 12th-grade education.
Monterey County’s a tough place to be a woman or a girl, according to the Tellus/Díganosreport titled, First Glance: Quality of Life of Monterey County Women and Girls, to be released on May 26. The study is the first of its kind, and it examines issues facing young and teenage girls, as well as adult and senior women, from public school test scores to health access to teen pregnancy and domestic violence.
“The issues all intersect,” says Maria Giuriato, vice-chair of the Tellus/Díganos board of directors. “If you don’t have a good education, you can’t get a decent job with decent wages, you can’t affording housing. We know there’s a dire need for housing for women in Monterey County. We know there’s an increase in domestic violence.
“In all of these issues, who gets impacted the most? Children and moms.”
Giuriato also sits on the Salinas city council and works for the county’s Department of Social Services. On May 26, she’ll be one of the Women’s Health Summit’s keynote speakers. She will be joined by Joyce Vandevere, from the Commission on the Status of Women. Dina Ruiz Eastwood will moderate the discussion, and local high school students will act as facilitators.
“Our hope is that once the report begins to generate an awareness, it will mobilize people and agencies in the community to address these findings,” Giuriato says. “I’m hoping we can take it to the next level—create a policy piece and community advocacy.”
The Women’s Health Summit will be held on may 26 at the Corral de Tierra Country Club, 81 Corral de Tierra Rd., Salinas, beginning at 2pm. It’s free, and appetizers and beverages will be provided. RSVP to Audrey at 755-8586.