Pebble Beach Co. files scaled-back development proposal.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
T hree years after plans for development at Pebble Beach were rejected by the California Coastal Commission, the Pebble Beach Company has filed a scaled-down proposal with the County Planning Department to expand two existing hotels, construct a new hotel, relocate a driving range, and develop 90 new single-family homes.
In a dramatic departure from the earlier plan, the new proposal drops a golf course and would grant easements to permanently protect more than 635 acres of sensitive habitat, including 137 acres that had previously been allocated for golf green.
Pebble Beach Company is currently completing an application to the County Planning Department, a process that has been going on since August. The application will be followed by an Environmental Impact Report.
The Coastal Commission must also amend the Local Coastal Program to allow for rezoning, which will allow for public comment throughout the process. Mark Stilwell, Executive Vice President of the Pebble Beach Company, estimates the cost of preparing the EIR for the plans rejected in 2007 was more than $500,000.
Covering 2,500 scenic acres of coastal land and the Del Monte Forest, Pebble Beach Company property includes ecologically sensitive habitat for Monterey pine, Gowen cypress, red-legged frogs and other threatened species. All of Pebble Beach’s undeveloped land is designated in this proposal either as open space in perpetuity or as part of the project.
Dan Carl, District Manager for the Coastal Commission, says the new proposal “is 10,000 times better than what they had before.” By developing a new 100-room hotel on an old quarry site already “devoid of habitat,” impact to sensitive areas is minimized, Carl says. And because the company dropped the golf course, for which “by definition, you need to cut huge swaths of forest down,” the plan effectively protects the ecosystem.
Pebble Beach Company will support water needs for the proposed development with its entitlement of approximately 120 million gallons per year, granted by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, in exchange for the $65 million the company has contributed to wastewater treatment facilities since 1994.
Stilwell predicts the proposed development will use about half the remaining water entitlement. Without the entitlement, Carl thinks the proposal could never be approved.
In addition to providing for preservation, Carl considers the plan to preserve open space as a choice “not to kill the golden goose, which is the forest itself.”
Stilwell and Carl identify the 2007 rejection of initial plans as a turning point in the relationship between the Coastal Commission and Pebble Beach. Stilwell says, “We have worked very cooperatively to get to this point.”