Maybe it's Christmas season that inspired Seaside City Manager John Dunn to package it rather prettily. But the contents were still a lump of coal for those waiting for the draft environmental report for Monterey Downs, the proposed housing and horse racing development on the former Fort Ord.
It's going to be held back from the public for another 1-2 months.
These delays have become more reliable than the city's ever-changing target dates. The draft EIR was first set to go public in October 2013 but has been pushed back repeatedly since.
When City Clerk Lesley Milton sent a notice to the Weekly legal section announcing the EIR's imminent release Friday, Dec. 19, the wait seemed to be almost over. Then Milton retracted the notice. Now comes the Dunn memo, which was forwarded to the Weekly. It reads, in part:
The City of Seaside, as lead agency on the EIR for the Monterey Downs Project, intends to produce an EIR that is thorough, objective and complete…Accordingly, the City will be taking approximately 30 to 60 days to complete that process.
Here's the thing: The city's project manager for Downs, Teri Wissler Adam, already told us why the draft EIR was yanked at the 11th hour. It was yanked, she said, because the Weekly published the contents of a leaked legal memo raising serious doubts about the project's water supply.
Reached by phone this afternoon, Dunn wouldn't go there.
"The city has to be extraordinarily careful that we're doing the best possible job and are producing a complete and accurate EIR for this proposed project, and in order to do that, it's going to require some additional review," he said.
Weekly: Was the document pulled because the confidential memo revealed issues omitted from the draft EIR?
Dunn: "That gets into a speculative area, and I'm not going to engage in that."
Weekly: How can the public feel confident the city is giving officials and residents the most relevant information on which to judge the project?
Dunn: "It's the city's obligation to do the best possible job as the responsible party."
Weekly: How does this memo factor in?
Dunn: "I have no response to that question."