Daily news from Monterey County Weekly

ETC. Photo of the day by Larry Hayes. The joy of the jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is again open for visitors. Photographed with iPhone 11 Plus. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

A controversial development proposal off River Road is the kind of conflict we might see more of.

Good evening.

We’re just about a month away from the one-year anniversary of the start of the River Fire, which started with a crack of lightning on Mount Toro. It burned over 48,000 acres, destroyed 30 structures and caused four injuries. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate during the 19-day fire, including those within the Las Palmas development off of River Road.

As the fire was threatening the Las Palmas neighborhoods shortly after the fire began, I, Pam Marino, remember immediately thinking about how six months earlier, the Monterey County Planning Commission voted 6-4 to approve construction of the River View at Las Palmas Assisted Senior Living Facility which, if built, would be perched right above Las Palmas I and in the direct path of the fire.

Wildfire risk was exactly one of the arguments among many that Las Palmas residents made when they urged commissioners to deny the project. They pointed to the tragic 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise that killed over 50 senior citizens who were unable to escape the fast-moving wildfire.

On Sept. 8, four days after the River Fire was declared 100-percent contained, the attorney for the Las Palmas I Homeowners Association sent a letter to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, the Monterey County Regional Fire Protection District and the county planning department putting them on notice.

“Monterey County and Monterey County Regional Fire District Will Be Held Liable for Approving the Project’s Dangerous Condition,” the letter is titled. It states River View will “result in dangerous conditions” for residents in both the existing Las Palmas I development and the assisted living facility itself. If the board approves the project, both the county and the fire district could be held liable for whatever calamity befalls residents, it warns.

The letter, signed by 207 Las Palmas I homeowners, faults the county with an inadequate review of how emergency vehicles will access the site—that requires traveling through the Las Palmas I neighborhood and up an incline to the ridge at the top—as well as how all residents will get out in a time of emergency. In addition, it argues the county didn’t take into account how the facility’s presence might actually make the fire risk worse for Las Palmas. These are the types of questions surrounding new development that we can expect to see more of as the worsening climate crisis makes fire risk that much more a part of daily life.

Other problems cited in the letter: The county used an environmental impact report from 1982 that doesn’t take into account today’s conditions; two highly visible structures would sit on the ridge disrupting the scenic view corridor along River Road; inadequate storm drainage; impact on the Salinas Valley groundwater basin.

The impact to views in the scenic corridor, along with the contention that the project is incompatible with the original Las Palmas general plan, prompted four planning commissioners to vote no on the River View project in February last year. While the six in favor said it would bring over 100 much-needed assisted living beds to Monterey County, those that voted against determined the potential negative impacts far outweighed the benefits. It’s not uncommon for a group of neighbors to compile a list of objections along these lines, but it’s a little more uncommon for 40 percent of the Planning Commission to agree. 

Tomorrow it’s finally time for the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to vote on River View during their 1:30pm session. You can attend in person (at 168 W. Alisal St., Salinas) or participate on Zoom by clicking here.

-Pam Marino, staff writer, pam@mcweekly.com 

BY THE NUMBERS

Health officials are recommending (but not requiring) masks in indoor spaces. Health officers in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Napa counties issued the recommendation today suggesting everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor spaces. Monterey County’s incidence of new cases remains low, but has been rising in recent days.

LATEST LOCAL NEWS

Salinas police officers shot and killed a man. The shooting happened on Friday night, but there has been little information released on the circumstances.

Monterey County is adding homeless shelters. The first shelter of its kind on the Monterey Peninsula, Casa de Noche Buena opened in February and it’s already proven to be successful in shepherding people from homelessness to permanent housing. The SHARE Center in Salinas opened in May.

New DACA applications are blocked and the program is ruled illegal. The determination, issued on Friday, July 16, blocks new DACA applications.

Shots for kids. The Monterey County Office of Education and Natividad co-host a town hall meeting about Covid-19 vaccinations for children and teens. Health officials provide information and answer questions from 5-6pm tomorrow, July 20.

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LOCAL INSPIRATION

LOCAL INSPIRATION of the day by Daniel Dreifuss. The designers at Monterey GlassWorks in Sand City rely on critiques, collaborations and access to networking. Their open-door policy encourages visits from fellow creatives, or just anyone who wants to check out their work, any time. Submit your Local Inspiration (digital art, music, multimedia, video, etc.; please include the medium you’ve used, and note when and where it was created). 

Name that quarantune! During the pandemic, pianist Tim Bennett’s church performances were gone. Instead, he created a virtual game using his musical chops. 

Quilts and cloth can convey a lot. They can even convey messages about biodiversity and the urgency of the climate crisis. Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) has a traveling quilt exhibition and it’s landing at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. 

Local sweet treat without refined sugar. An energy ball from Nice Bites is made by hand in Carmel Valley; the gluten-free, vegan treats are packed with superfoods. Try the walnut cardamon or the Mexican chocolate and mango combo. 

BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® REAL ESTATE

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realestate.montereycountyweekly.com

  
IN CONTEXT

What is next for resettling migrant children? This country has made immigration a “security” issue, rather than a “humanitarian” issue. An argument for reframing it, and prioritizing safe and legal resettlement of kids.
-The Nation, July 19. 2021

The sound of my inbox. The great hope of newsletter writers seems to be some escape from the internet as it exists now.
-The Cut, July 7, 2021

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HELPFUL DISTRACTIONS

How are you feeling about the return to in-person college? Students share their thoughts with the Los Angeles Times.

The Artichoke Festival returns to the Fairgrounds on July 24-25, and so should you.

 

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