Timeline of the proposed development that won’t die.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
1984: The California Coastal Commission approves Sand City’s Local Coastal Plan, which allows the city to issue its own coastal development permits.
1986: After 60 years, the Lone Star/Pacific Cement Aggregates sand mining operations in Sand City end. The land is zoned for a mixed-use resort of up to 650 units.
1996: State and regional park agencies enter into an agreement with Sand City leaders, known as the “Coastal Peace Accord.” The document sets most of Sand City’s 1.5-mile coastline as open space except for two “building envelopes,” including the former sand mine now owned by Security National Guaranty. Big Sur Land Trust offers to buy the property but can’t afford the high price.
1998: In December, Sand City approves SNG’s coastal development permit for a 495-unit mixed-use resort and certifies the environmental impact report. The Sierra Club appeals to the Coastal Commission and later sues Sand City, alleging the resort’s EIR is inadequate.
2000: State Parks offers to purchase the property from SNG but doesn’t secure enough funds. In October, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District denies SNG’s water distribution permit, which involves digging wells into the Seaside aquifer. SNG appeals. Just before the New Year, the Coastal Commission denies SNG’s development permit, citing 17 inconsistencies with Sand City’s Local Coastal Plan and the Coastal Act, including lack of water supply, inadequate traffic mitigation, loss of dune habitat and disruption of endangered species. SNG appeals.
2001: The Superior Court upholds the water district board’s permit denial. SNG appeals, but the Appellate Court affirms the district’s decision.
2002: The Sierra Club withdraws its lawsuit against Sand City and the final EIR is certified. In May, the Superior Court rejects SNG’s legal challenge of the water district’s 2000 denial.
2003: In August, SNG enters into Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to lender default and the Coastal Commission’s permit denial.
2006: Superior Court Judge Roger Randall adjudicates the Seaside basin, finding that it has been overdrafted and pumping must be reduced to avoid seawater intrusion. He establishes a regional watermaster board to manage the basin, leaving permitting authority with the water management district. The ruling guarantees SNG the right to 149 acre-feet for its resort.
2008: SNG submits revised development plans for a 341-unit resort, incorporating a spectrum of sustainable features, to the Coastal Commission and Sand City. In April, the company emerges from Chapter 11 with a clean record. In May, the Appellate Court overturns the Coastal Commission’s 2000 decision, ordering the commission to reconsider SNG’s revised permit application based primarily on Sand City’s Local Coastal Plan, which does not consider the hotel property ecologically sensitive habitat. In December, SNG distributes a lengthy addendum to the 1998 EIR (available at www.montereybayshores.com).
2009: In January, Sand City approves SNG’s EIR addendum. The next month, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board denies SNG’s water distribution permit and requires a subsequent environmental impact report on the resort’s water supply. In March, the Coastal Commission postpones its hearing on Monterey Bay Shores at SNG’s request. The watermaster board sends a letter to the water management district board, encouraging it to reconsider its February decision, but the water board does not.
Sources: SNG developer Ed Ghandour, water board attorney David Laredo, Sand City Administrator Steve Matarazzo, Coastal Commissioner Dave Potter, Sand City attorney Jim Heisinger, Big Sur Land Trust spokeswoman Rachel Saunders, newspaper articles.