Carmel Valley issues still hotly disputed as GPU 2010 heads to Planning Commission.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Carmel Valley’s land use battle is back in full formation, with developers revealing plans for a 42-home subdivision at the mouth of the valley and residents raising concerns over new growth, fuzzy math, and watered-down traffic standards in the county’s recently-released general plan.
Partners Bill McLeod and Brian Clark on April 5 proposed 30 market-rate and 12 affordable homes on Val Verde Drive to the Carmel Valley Land Use Advisory Committee. The committee continued the item, and will evaluate the subdivision in more detail once an environmental document is completed, committee Chairwoman Janet Brennan says. There is already opposition.
Deeanne Howe, who lives across the road from the project, says she is worried about the impact of the high-density development where she and neighbors often ride their horses. She says residents fought nearby project Carmel Cottages when it tried to utilize Val Verde Drive. Howe says the developers should decrease the project’s density and find a different road.
The developers say the project will have four homes per acre, which is allowed because the development exceeds the county’s affordable housing requirements. “Everyone says we should have inclusionary, low-income housing, but nobody wants it next to them,” McLeod says.
Whether the development will be able to go forward, however, hinges on the fate of the general plan, GP2010. The Planning Commission starts public hearings on the plan on Wednesday, April 14.
The valley is currently under a subdivision moratorium due to congestion on Carmel Valley Road, but GP2010 assumes the building restriction will be lifted, with 266 new lots planned over the next 20 years.
Brennan says the moratorium shouldn’t be rescinded until traffic flow is improved at Highway 1 and Carmel Valley Road. “There is no solution to that problem, yet the county basically proposes new development that is only going to make that worse,” she says.
The Carmel Valley Association is questioning an apparent accounting error in the final EIR compared to GPU5 that results in a much lower number of new lots. In a letter to planning commissioners, CVA President Christine Williams says the 1986 Carmel Valley Master Plan has a housing cap of 1,310. In GPU5, 785.5 units were accounted for and 258.5 lots were approved for construction, resulting in 266 lots for future growth.
But a table in the final EIR puts the vacant lots approved for construction at 492, which would only leave 32.5 new lots, Williams says. “If in fact only 32.5 lots are left to build on, then the developers have a problem,” she says.
Alana Knaster, deputy director of the Resource Management Agency, says her staff is researching the issue, but the simple answer is that the ’86 plan and 2010 plan are two different documents. “Our intention was that the 266 relates to the prior master plan, but they are not identical,” she says.
CVA says GP2010 seriously weakens traffic standards along Carmel Valley Road. The current plan establishes thresholds based on average daily traffic, but GP2010 switches to evaluating peak-hour level of service. “The county wants to allow more traffic,” says CVA board member Tim Sanders. “If we stayed with the old standard, it would postpone development.”
Knaster says the new approach will help better identify gridlock areas.