Desal Project Stalled In Court
Save Our Waterfront lawsuit says Cannery Row plant will put the city at risk.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Community activist Barbara Evans worried that the city of Monterey didn’t do its homework before it approved a desalination plant project on Cannery Row.
The desal plant, if built, will provide drinking water for Ocean View Plaza, a planned 224,000-square-foot development of condos, shops and restaurants. The Local Agency Formation Commission [LAFCO] OKed the plan, which would allow the private developers to form a special district to oversee the desal plant.
So, last week, Evans’ group, called Save Our Waterfront, filed a lawsuit against the city of Monterey, its City Council and LAFCO.
“The deal is unusual and unprecedented. We have a lot of concerns about the project and we don’t feel as if the City has done its homework,” Evans says.
Evans says that a community services district must demonstrate that it’s financially responsible. She claims neither the City nor LAFCO have completed an investigation into the plaza’s developer’s history or finances.
“We need a financial feasibility analysis to see if they’ve ever even constructed a desal plant, and to indemnify lawsuits against the city in case the plan fails,” Evans says. “It puts our city budget at risk. What if they leave a half-completed project?”
Monterey Assistant City Manager Fred Cohn counters that there are a lot of mechanisms in place to make sure that the City and the community service district are not left holding the bag. In addition, he says, the City is “very familiar” with the developers.
“We’re very comfortable with their ability to turn this project into reality,” Cohn says. “Plus, a small package desal plant is not rocket science. There’s one at the Aquarium.”
Jacqui Zischke, an attorney with Lombardo and Gilles, the firm representing Ocean View Plaza developers, did not return phone calls by press time.