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A portion of Aera Energy’s heavy crude operation at San Ardo, from the company website

The oil industry campaign to block the Measure Z anti-fracking initiative in Monterey County had put together a campaign treasury of $1.1 million as of June 30, and that’s without any input from local property owners who are in the oil industry or hope to be.

In the latest campaign finance filing with the county elections office, the industry group is now calling itself “Monterey County for Energy Independence – Stop the Oil and Gas Shutdown With Major Funding from Aera Energy and Chevron Corp.” MCFEISTOGWMFAECC for short.

It reports having received $300,000 from Chevron and $800,000 from Aera, the Bakersifield-based oil production company owned by Shell and Exxon Mobil.

On its website, Aera says it produced 10,200 barrels of heavy crude daily at its oil operations San Ardo. It says the oil operations, covering about seven square miles, sell oil on the premises for transport to refineries out of the area. The company says it has been producing heavy crude oil in San Ardo since 1952.

The industry group reports having spent about $440,000 so far, mostly for lobbyists and campaign strategists out of the area. Apparently heading the effort for the oil companies are two lawyers with the well-connected Nielsen Merksamer firm of San Rafael, Steven S. Lucas and Erin Lama. Lucas specializes in ballot measures and teaches election law at Stanford.

Locally, the committee reports having spent some $19,000 with the L&G law firm in Salinas, the firm formerly known as Lombardo & Gilles, which specializes in development, agriculture and marijuana law. It also reported owing $10,000 to Salinas planning consultant Maureen Wruck.

Details of Measure Z can be found at http://www.protectmontereycounty.org

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idea concept with light bulbs on a blue backgroundGood news for those of you who think knowledge is a good thing. A group of civic-minded folks headed by longtime community broadcaster Rachel Goodman is taking a run at buying and reviving radio station KUSP.

If you, like me,  get a bit confused about which station is which, that’s the one that was at 88.9 on your FM dial, the one that used to be a model of local public radio with news and talk shows and some music, etc., etc. Unfortunately, it’s also the one that tried to save itself financially by converting to a full-time music purveyor, principally adult alternative.

As Goodman tried to warn the good folks on the board, that didn’t work out so well. It was entertaining as heck but not enough so to generate enough contributions at pledge break time. It went off the air a couple of weeks ago and its future is now in the hands of a bankruptcy trustee. (Rumor has it that company that specializes in religious broadcasting is interested.)

Goodman and company plan to launch a video and kickstarter campaign in coming days and at the moment are soliciting solid pledges from Central Coast folks, or others, who want to see (hear) more news and information on the airwaves. While KUSP is based in Santa Cruz, it transmits into Big Sur and it provides a remarkably strong and clear signal throughout much of the region.

There is lots of history to the public radio story on the Central Coast, with a long period of overlapping stations offering much of the same NPR lineup and talks of mergers and the like. I don’t see much point to getting into all that at this point, but I am confident that Goodman and those around her can create a format that complements rather than competes with the other public-spirited stations down there in the low numbers on the radio dial.

Stay tuned for additional info here, but if you want to help out in the meantime, you can get hold of Goodman at Rachel@well.com.

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DSCN0558 (1)“Advertising is legalized lying.” 
–H.G. Wells

If I am not careful with what I am about to write here, I am in great danger of offending some of the fine people of Marina, so I wish to make it clear up front that that is not my intent. The fact is that I’m not entirely sure of my intent, but I saw something in the local papers this week that seemed to me to require some sort of examination, just the way some mountains require climbing.

It was an ad, full page, introducing local readers to a new development, Sea Haven, more specifically Preserve & Residences Sea Haven Monterey Bay. Hard to tell from the ad.

It was a splendid ad if its purpose was to capture attention. If its purpose was to accurately describe the product, however, it was kind of a fail. Very well done but a fail nonetheless.

The artwork is a lovely photo of the shoreline, with dunes and ground cover and some ocean.

The main headline tells us “The Ultimate Luxury is Living in a Place Few Know Exist.”

Intriguing.

It goes on to say, “Introducing Sea Haven in the city of Marina, a new residential community and nature preserve in the rolling dunes.”

OK, I said to myself. I must have missed something. There is a significant housing development, a Sea Ranch kind of place, to be built along the Marina shoreline? I know the newspapers are short of resources, or so they’re always telling us that, but how could they have missed this story? And how come I haven’t heard the gnashing of teeth at the Sierra Club or any threats of litigation over the inadequate EIR?

The ad referred me to a website, LifeSeaHaven.com. I proceeded there directly and with great curiosity.

If I wasn’t suspicious before, I was when I read this:

“While the Monterey Peninsula is revered around the world, few know of the little seaside towns that dot the coast along the Monterey Bay just to the north. The city of Marina is the kind of sleepy little beach town we all dream about.”

This is where I fear some Marinites might not care for what I’m writing here because they may see their little city exactly that way. I don’t wish to pick a fight with anyone, especially Partisan readers in Marina. I’ll just say this. I had not previously heard Marina described quite like that.

It goes on with some actually useful information.

“Sea Haven is a sustainable new planned community of approximately 1,050 homes throughout carefully crafted neighborhoods that spread over 248 acres on the former site of the historic Fort Ord U.S. Army Base. Here, the land gently rises and opens itself up to the distant sea for all to enjoy . . . “

Finally, a qualifier. “Distant.” And, on the next page, a map. It’s not exactly on the shoreline. In fact, it’s about a mile inland, at Imjin Parkway and Abrams Drive. Now I was getting it. This is what they used to call Marina Heights, or Cypress Marina Heights. Or, more accurately, the proposed Marina Heights.

Some will recall that the large chunk of former Fort Ord was approved for development back around 2008 when the economy went south. Before being mothballed, the project was in the hands of something called the Chadmar Group. You won’t find much of anything about the current principals on the website, but if you Google around some, you can find a disclaimer site that tells us not to believe everything we read elsewhere and that tells us the developers are now headquartered at a Marina Del Rey address that is home to something called Sunbrook Partners, which apparently is kind of a big deal in the world of real estate.

Oh yeah, there’s also a Facebook page. My favorites line there is this: “Sea Haven is just an ocean-drive away from all types of marine life exploration at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Get outdoors today!”

Take a bow, copywriters. You have outdone yourselves.

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Oil and gas well profiled on sunset skyMEASURE Z SUPPORTS EXISTING OIL INDUSTRY JOBS

I’m Ed Mitchell, a long-time resident of Prunedale. About eight years ago, I spoke up when the first permit for fracking came before the Board of Supervisors. Since then, I’ve worked with organizations from Aromas to Jolon to protect Monterey County’s water from being harmed by the negative impacts of fracking.

That effort has included co-founding the organization that put forward the Protect Our Water— Ban Fracking initiative that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot as Measure Z. Having recently seen and heard misleading comments about the initiative, I want to share my knowledge about the initiative’s purpose versus the high-risk contract that the fracking industry wants the public to accept. Given that I have worked on the fracking issue steadily for eight years and helped draft the initiative, I believe my comments might be informative to readers of the Monterey Bay Partisan.

The initiative to ban fracking is about protecting our water — not about oil.

It’s about preventing toxic fracking fluids from being injected and stored in local water basins, forever threatening generations to come.

It’s about allowing traditional oil jobs to continue — while protecting the economic well-being of this county’s ag, real estate and hospitality jobs from an extremely polluting and new extraction technology.

The initiative is supported by tens of thousand of voters in all parts of the county.

Please consider the following risk observations, scientific findings,and facts about local fracking:

Risk Observation 1: Fracking along the Salinas River and injecting contaminated fracking fluids into the water basin in the most seismically active oil field in America is a formula for economic disaster for the Salad Bowl of America if pollution leaks into the single source of water for the Valley.

FACT #1: Last March, the L.A. times highlighted this risk by reporting on the USGS earthquake studies in Oklahoma. From 2009 to 2015, earthquake activity directly correlated to fracking injection activity spiked from a century-long average of three magnitude 3 earthquakes to 809 quakes of magnitudes 3 to 5. Monterey County now has an average of one magnitude 6.0 or higher earthquake every 23 years. Parkfield is recognized as one of the world’s most highly seismic areas, and the major San Andreas fault runs through the county.

Fact #2: In March 2016, a scientific report verified our water can be polluted in another way. A study by scientists from Stanford University2, published in Environmental Science & Technology, found that 10 years of fracking operations near Pavillion, Wyo., “have had clear impact to underground sources of drinking water” and “other states which have shallow fracking operations, such as California… could also have contaminated water.” Is that what we want to happen to our ground water?

Risk Observation 2: The Salad Bowl of America is a national strategic asset, equal in importance to any oil field in the U.S.

Fact #3 Yet, representatives of the fracking industry talk about 732 oil jobs without recognizing risks to other industries, while wanting this type of contract: They want unlimited use of local water. They want to pump millions of gallons of contaminated water back into the water basin. And they want to shift ALL of the long-term risks to local residents. Based upon my extensive government contracting experience, that’s an incredibly unfair contract for the public. The frackers get all the profits while the public gets all the risks.

Fact #4 In June 2012, seismic thumper trucks showed up around Aromas in North County to determine the feasibility of fracking. Seeking fracking permits and conducting seismic surveys prove oil companies are actively seeking to frack in Monterey. And if allowed, fracking will stretch from South County to North County.

Fact #5 In 2014, the State Groundwater Sustainability Act was approved requiring the county to recharge local overdrafted water basins. Yet the fracking industry wants unlimited use of water from the Salinas Valley while agriculture and residents continually conserve water and many pay higher prices for water. That’s not fair— but the fracking industry doesn’t care.

Fact #6 Representatives of the fracking industry claim in that oil companies in California are subject to the strictest regulations in America. However, the quality of protection the regulations provide is only as good as the integrity of those who comply and the integrity of those who enforce. For example on Nov. 14, 2014, NBC presented its investigative report Waste Water from Oil Fracking Injected into Clean Aquifers3 revealing that the DOGGR, California’s watchdog agency over fracking operations, failed to stop fracking companies from injecting contaminated fracking water into federally protected potable water aquifers. Thirty-four such wells are in Monterey County. That’s not compliance or enforcement — and the fracking industry knows it.

Operating oil well profiled on dramatic cloudy sky

Fact #7 The Protect Our Water initiative submitted to the Registrar of Voters specifically allows current oil operations to continue4. I know that because I drafted the early versions of the initiative, and with others ensured wording was inserted so San Ardo jobs were protected. I quote from page 1:

“Section 1 Paragraph B: “This Initiative does not prohibit oil and gas operations … from using existing oil and gas wells in the County, which number over 1,500 at the time this Initiative was submitted….” To further ensure the type of work that has gone on for decades would be allowed to continue, we inserted into Section 2 the definition of current operations that are allowed to continue, including: “steam flooding, water flooding, or cyclic steaming, routine well cleanout work, routine well maintenance, routine removal of formation damage due to drilling, bottom hole pressure surveys, or routine activities that do not affect the integrity of the well or the formation.” Any claim by frackers that cyclic steam injection is not allowed is deception.

Additionally, the fracking industry misrepresents that 732 oil field jobs will be lost if a fracking ban is passed … while avoiding discussing the risk to 100,000 ag, real estate and hospitality jobs by installing fracking oil wells near or on farms or storing toxic fracking fluids in the local water basin near our irrigation water. Their 732 jobs are more important than tens of thousands of jobs in other industries in the Salinas Valley? That’s incredibly one sided. But the frackers don’t care.

If you care about local impacts, and if you care that a large earthquake could easily cause toxic fracking fluids to leak into our irrigation and drinking water; and if you care as much about the 100,000 non-oil jobs as you do aobut the 732 CONTINUING jobs in San Ardo, and if you do care about protecting your children’s future, then VOTE YES on measure Z to Ban Fracking in Monterey County. Z for Zero fracking, Zero jobs lost, and Zero impact to our water.

To read the initiative please go to:   www.protectmontereycounty.org

Substantiating sources:

1   L.A. Times, Mar 02, 2016, Yardley: Oklahoma takes action on fracking-related earthquakes — but too late, critics say http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-sej-oklahoma-quakes-fracking-20160302-story.html

2   Stanford University, March 29, 2016 Impact to Underground Sources of Drinking Water and Domestic Wells from Production Well Stimulation and Completion Practices in the Pavillion, Wyoming, Field http://news.stanford.edu/2016/03/29/pavillion-fracking-water-032916/

3 NBC TV … Nov 14, 2014: Waste Water from Oil Fracking Injected into Clean Aquifers http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Waste-Water-from-Oil-Fracking-Injected-into-Clean-Aquifers-282733051.html

4   March 2016, Monterey County PMC Initiative:Protect Our Water: Ban Fracking and Limit Risky Oil Operations Initiative http://www.protectmontereycounty.org/the_initiative

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lsRAISING THE RENT ON MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM IS PENNY WISE, POUND STUPID

You likely have read of the city of Pacific Grove’s attempt to levy an admissions tax on the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This occurs although the entrance to the aquarium is in Monterey and less than half of the aquarium is actually in Pacific Grove. But the aquarium has been so successful that public officials could not resist the lure of robust sales of entrance fees. All that cash is changing hands – why not get some for cash-strapped Pacific Grove?

Now it turns out that Pacific Grove is not the only city with avaricious impulses. The city of Monterey has now undertaken to raise the nominal rent ($1 per year) charged for the aquarium’s use of the “tidelands” portion of the property – the rocks and ocean that border the aquarium’s main building and to which the aquarium provides public access where none existed before. To that end, the Monterey City Council will hear a recommendation by staff on Tuesday Aug. 16 to employ an appraiser for the magnanimous fee of $31,500 to determine fair market rent for this tidelands property.

For the first time in 35 years, the city seeks to act on a lease provision allowing for review of the $1 rent every five years. It seems like when there is some cash ringing the registers, Monterey wants to “get me some” too. Of course, all that aquarium cash is plowed back into the costs of operation, education, and research, so it is hardly excess or available for other purposes. Not to mention the gazillion dollars the aquarium has brought to the Peninsula in the past 35 years.

There is, of course, more behind the scenes (there always is) than an unused, poorly drafted lease provision. For several years during the council’s long overdue upgrade of the wharf and waterfront leases, the wharf merchants and the Yacht Club have complained that they were being treated unfairly because the Aquarium was only paying $1 per year.

The comparison is absurd, however. The aquarium is a non-profit, public benefit corporation that owns the majority of the land it occupies. Pointing the finger are private vendors and a private club that own none of the land they occupy and operate either for profit or the benefit of private members only. The wharf merchants still pay less than fair market rent and have been subsidized for 50 years by the public. The Yacht Club is a non-profit mutual benefit corporation, whose use and activities benefit only its private members whose dues have been subsidized for 20 years by the city.

imagesIt is possible that the public, the council, and staff do not realize that the aquarium purchased the majority of land it uses outright and in fee from the former owners of the derelict Hovden Cannery, which occupied the site for many years. It is unknown whether Hovden paid any rent at all for the tidelands property around the fringe of the cannery. But some council members and the city staff, unaware of the institutional history of city and state involvement in the development of our world class aquarium, have decided to take a run at a piece of the aquarium’s non-profit pie despite the fact that the tidelands use there is only around the fringe, and greatly enhances public access to the bay at no cost to the public.

An examination of the facts is in order. Monterey entered into a written lease with Monterey Bay Aquarium (“MBA”) on March 10, 1981, for a term of 50 years for the purpose of creation of an aquarium and related research and educational activities. Characteristic of the city’s penchant for using leases drafted by the city attorney rather than a competent real estate lawyer, the lease is almost entirely boilerplate and is notable only for its brevity and unprofessional presentation. The only three paragraphs specifically tailored to this unique transaction involved one sentence for a 50-year term, identification of the use, and the following provision for rent:

  1. Rent: Lessee agrees to pay the sum of ONE DOLLAR ($1.00) per year as rent. Said rental amount shall be reviewed not less than every five (5) years in accordance with Monterey City Charter section 6.8 and said amount may be adjusted as set forth therein. In no case shall said rental amount be less than ONE DOLLAR ($1.00).

Nowhere in the lease is the concept of “fair market rent” mentioned. Section 6.8 of the City Charter no longer exists, and there is nothing in the lease suggesting that a successor ordinance will apply. All section 6.8 said was that a three- arbitrator process would be employed if the parties could not agree on rent – but 6.8 says nothing whatsoever about “fair market rent.” So there is “no there there” regarding a standard or criteria “set forth therein.”

It is a well understood and a universal rule of law that any ambiguity or confusion in a written document is construed against the drafter. That is the city. So what is the criteria for adjusting the rent? Cost of living? Assuming, for example, that the cost of living has doubled since 1981, a generous interpretation of this lease provision could increase the rent to $2 per year. But that’s pretty nonsensical, isn’t it? No less nonsensical would be to claim “highest and best use” or “fair market rent” when no such standard is alluded to in the lease.

images-1Monterey enticed the aquarium development in 1981 with nominal rent for the tidelands, and now wants to renege when the aquarium has been too successful.

It is possible that city staff thinks that a new charter provision, section 6.4, applies by default of former section 6.8. That is contrary to the rules of interpretation, as stated above, but more importantly, 6.4 has no application to this pre-existing lease. Section 6.4 obligates the city to make all leases at fair market rent (a provision that the City Council has very belatedly begun to honor), but it has no application to pre-existing leases. A legislative act cannot alter the terms of an existing contract or lease. And it cannot supply a standard where none existed before.

So why would the city spend $31,500 for an appraisal when fair market rent is inapplicable to the aquarium lease? The appraiser would reach the same conclusion if given all the facts, as appraisers are bound to accommodate the actual circumstances and constraints of a given property in making a professional appraisal. It is difficult to imagine that any honest appraiser would come to any other conclusion but that the appropriate rental for these minor tidelands used by the aquarium is, and will continue to be, $1 per year.

Such a waste of money is difficult to comprehend. It will take some 300 years for the city to recoup the cost of this appraisal from the aquarium. But the precise language of this lease and the charter provision are only part of the reason the city has no legal basis to increase the tidelands rent by any appreciable amount. There is also state legislation and opinion/action of the State Lands Commission to consider.

On March 25, 1980, the State Lands Commission, with jurisdiction over all the tidelands granted to the City in 1919 and earlier, specifically found that the aquarium would provide a statewide public benefit and was therefore exempt from a prohibition of commercial revenue producing activities on the shore. It said that the proceeds for the public benefit activities conducted at the aquarium are not “profits” and are instead revenues needed to cover non-profit operating expenses. That was true then – and it is true now.

Also in 1980, the California Legislature passed a bill specifically authorizing the lease (which was to be at nominal rent), and that legislation remains in effect. On Aug, 29, 1986, then-City Attorney Bill Marsh confirmed in a letter to the State Lands Commission that:

“…the Monterey City Council decided that the overall benefits, both educational and economic, were significant and far outweighed any rent the City might anticipate from a lease.”

images-2On Nov. 4, 1986, the State Lands Commission endorsed the lease (specifically describing the $1/yr rent) as in accordance with the state grant of tidelands property to the city of Monterey, and that “any rental derived by the City from the lease shall be deposited in the City’s Tidelands Trust Funds” to be expendable only for state-wide purposes…” (emphasis supplied). The commission also specifically found “That said lease is in the best interest of the State.”

On Aug, 13, 1992, then-City Property Manager Bob Humel wrote to the commission in support of the aquarium’s application to expand the facility with construction of a new wing (largely on tidelands property), confirming that the aquarium had “proven to be of significant value to the City, State and even a broader spectrum of visitors from other areas.”

It would appear that the city staff is ignorant of, or chooses to ignore, this written history and the acts and opinions of the state of California. Any action to alter the terms and rent of this lease would require consent of the State Lands Commission and an act of the Legislature. Such consent is most unlikely.

The staff report recommending this foolish expenditure addresses none of these issues. All it says is that an appraisal can be done, which is true. But why? And it says nothing about the likelihood of expensive litigation nor the black eye the city would get for the blatant appearance of greed and of reneging on its repeated pronouncements that the benefits delivered by the aquarium “far outweigh any rent” the city might receive. Has that changed?

e8ef760b6fcba0804e5204919f26a771And as usual, the staff report  provides no context to evaluate tidelands rent. El Torito pays peanuts. Bubba Gump’s and the Fish Hopper pay more (they occupy more of the tidelands), but not significantly so compared to the rental value of the land and buildings they occupy. If the prospect of a rental rate of $100,000 per year were remotely possible, then perhaps the perfidy of the city could be explained, even if it could not be excused. But, even then, the state says it must only go to “state-wide purposes,” not the Monterey coffers. So what’s the point?

We could say the appraisal is a fool’s errand, a complete waste of money that could be spent to other useful purposes in our new Waterfront Master Plan. But it is also an embarrassment to our citizens that displays ingratitude for the massive economic and cultural benefits that the aquarium has bestowed on our community.

Let the council know on Tuesday (afternoon agenda) that we don’t want to be a party to biting the hand that feeds you.

Willard P. McCrone is a retired lawyer and former member of the Monterey Planning Commission. His research and writings led the City Council to start reforming leasing practices at the city-owned Fisherman’s Wharf, where numerous longtime leaseholders have reaped large profits by subleasing wharf space with no benefit accruing to the city.

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The young girl with the husband have a rest in a garden. California, CarmelI love Carmel. I was born in Carmel while it still had its own hospital and maternity ward. Carmel is in my blood, and like many people I never want it to change. Of course, over the last 56 years it has, in many ways, changed quite a bit, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Yet it is comforting that many of the village landmarks I grew up with, from the Pine Inn to Bruno’s Market, still look pretty much the same as they did in my earliest childhood memories.

For some strange reason a single building on the corner of 7th and Dolores seems to be the focal point for the local political drama over keeping Carmel Carmelish. Several years ago it was suggested that a Long’s Drug store might occupy the former bank building, but that was shot down by the anti-chain-store crowd whose short memory forgot that the townsfolk fought to preserve a similar chain store that closed its Ocean Avenue location just a decade earlier.

More recently there were arguments over whether the relatively new (1970s) building was architecturally significant and worthy of preservation or is a disposable piece of modern architecture improperly imposing itself on Carmel’s classic storybook charm. After that was settled in favor of keeping the building, there were more arguments about what sort of business should occupy the space.

Eventually it became an “event center” for special events. Then early this year the owner thought a market and deli would be a nice fit for the building, but the machete- and pitchfork-wielding townsfolk thought it looked too much like a dreaded fast food operation.

Now the owner wishes to open a restaurant there. A fairly large, but non-threatening restaurant. That should be fine, right?

Apparently not if it has a display case with two cash registers. According to competing restaurant owner Rich Pepe, that makes it not a restaurant but a “food court.” And because food courts are typically associated with big suburban shopping malls, a display case in a restaurant is a direct threat to Carmel’s way of life (Patisserie Boissiere excepted).

According to Pepe, “Many of us feel a very large, 100-seat cafeteria/food court operation in Carmel will only encourage day-trippers and damage Carmel’s fine reputation as a unique village.”

Putting aside the obvious snobbery, I think it’s safe to say that the duration of a visitor’s stay will never be influenced by the mode of food service offered on the SE corner of 7th and Dolores. The decision to come to Carmel for a day, a weekend, or a week is typically determined by such factors as personal schedules, how far they have to travel (someone from San Jose will likely return home in the evening while a visitor from Omaha would probably stay a night or two), and the purpose of their visit.

Personally, I think a food court would make a wonderful social hub well suited to the Carmel lifestyle. I’m not talking about the kind with cheap formula fast food, plastic chairs, Formica tables, and sporks, but rather a comfortable dining space surrounded by local vendors offering coffee, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and such. It could be a place where locals could stop for an easy lunch or snack en route to the post office or library. A place where friends and neighbors could run into each other by chance and enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed setting. In my vision it also has a fireplace.

But neither Pepe’s nightmarish day-tripper attractant nor my vision for a community social hub is what’s being proposed. It’s just a restaurant with a harmless display counter. The problem isn’t the display case. The problem is that Carmel’s regulations are so blasted rigid and formulaic now. Any deviation from what is legally considered Carmelish is treated as a crime. They have eliminated any possibility of creativity in business management or aesthetic design. The irony, of course, is that Carmel’s charm was developed by people who came here so they could be free to express their creativity in art, architecture, and business as they, not society, saw fit. I think they would be horrified by Carmel’s regulations today.

James Toy lives in Seaside and is a regular contributor to the Partisan. This first appeared on one of his blogsMr. Toy’s Mental Notes.

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Gary Patton’s important land-use blog needs a new home

Gary Patton At 2007 Symposium

Patton

Gary Patton’s name is synonymous with environmentalism in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, where he founded the LandWatch organization that is often the public’s last line of defense against runaway development and zoning decisions fueled cash instead of common sense.

He is a lawyer and a former Santa Cruz County supervisor, and until just the other day when radio station KUSP went off the air, his Land Use Report blog was featured on the KUSP website.

The Partisan is proud to link here to his latest column and we are looking into ways that we could regularly and prominently disseminate and promote his valuable work. But it deserves a more permanent location, one that works equally as well in Santa Cruz  County as it does in Monterey County, so if you have ideas, please share.

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Dollarphotoclub_89236926Thanks in part to Partisan reader emails, the California Coastal Commission voted 9-2 on Wednesday to hold a hearing on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors‘ decision to remove affordability requirements on the Moro Cojo Subdivision in North County. In doing so, concerned commissioners cited the need to retain affordable housing, and voted against its own staff recommendation to let the county’s decision stand.

This means that the Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 26 decision to allow 161 affordable Moro Cojo homes to convert to market rate – without replacements – is now void.

As Partisan readers know from a previous piece, the 90-page coastal appeal staff report buried important, relevant information on pages 78-90. Your emails to coastal commissioners, telling them to look at those pages, were successful. The commissioners did look, and absorb those pages, which is probably why they voted against their staff’s recommendation.

A CHISPA-spokesperson submitted a letter claiming that people who want the affordable housing to remain affordable are NIMBYs (not in my back yard people) who don’t want farmworkers living near them. It’s an odd claim, because it’s the “NIMBYs” who were trying to keep the homes affordable so that future farmworkers could also afford them. More than 50 Moro Cojo homeowners attended yesterday’s hearing, many of them Spanish speaking. There was no translator, but the Coastal Commission promised that there would be at the next hearing.

Meanwhile, back at home, the reporter for the local daily who wrote about yesterday’s hearing interviewed CHISPA representatives, but interviewed no one wanting to keep the homes affordable. The article states that “most [Moro Cojo] residents are bound to a roughly 8 percent [interest] rate” on their home payments. That’s another odd claim, since it has never arisen before.

At a future time, probably in January 2017, the Coastal Commission will hold a public hearing to decide if the 161 Moro Cojo homes can be converted to market rate and, if so, whether or not CHISPA needs to replace them on a one-by-one basis. Since replacement value stands at around $48 million, this will be an interesting session.

Because the original Moro Cojo subdivision approval involved the waiving of serious environmental concerns that would have prohibited a market-rate development, the hearing will be starting at the beginning (“de novo”) to consider the matter from the beginning rather than from the point of the Monterey County hearing.

In January, or whenever the Coastal Commission holds its hearing, there will be opportunity for public comment. Stay tuned.

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American Water Works, the parent of Cal Am Water, has two basic strategies for expanding its business. One is to expand into areas where development is expected. The other is to buy up small water services, those under 10,000 customers.

Both methods are in the works for Cal Am, the Monterey Peninsula’s principal water purveyor.

Cal Am has a long history of not adding supply infrastructure, from 1966 when it bought the Peninsula system, to 1996 when the State Water Board ordered it to change direction. Even after the California Public Utilities Commission added its recommendation in 2001 to build a desal facility at Moss Landing, Cal Am has worked at snail speed.

A “eureka moment” occurred, however, Cal Am realized that the future required new water to come from north of the Peninsula. Exciting visions of sugar plums began dancing in Cal Am’s head. Maybe all the cards were lining up, putting development at the former Fort Ord into play for Cal Am. After decades of neglecting the infrastructure, Cal Am now had a profitable game changer.

This explains everything. But for it to work, Cal Am would have to win legal battles and not simply meet engineering hurdles.

It had to play along with the Regional Desal Project in 2008-2010 because the CPUC, Cal Am’s regulator, had designed that process. But that venture was not to Cal Am’s liking. The CPUC had approved a project that was about 80% publicly owned, providing Cal Am with little ownership and infrastructure. That greatly limited its ability to collect profit. At the first opportunity, Cal Am and Monterey County’s government scuttled the project. They used conflict of interest charges to sink it.

Then Cal Am decided to pursue a fully corporate-owned and larger desalination project, which fit its profitable expansion strategy. It would be located near the former Fort Ord, the only part of the Peninsula with development potential. It would require Cal Am to overcome numerous legal hurdles.

The company first needed to overcome the county ordinance requiring public ownership of any desal facility. It got the county to cooperate and to get the CPUC and the State Water Board to lay the groundwork with quasi-legal opinions in support.

Soon, Cal Am’s primary consultant on the project was caught in a conflict of interest (Dennis Williams of Geoscience holds patents on slant well technology). The CPUC agreed that a conflict existed. But Cal Am skirted that issue by adding a legal non-revenue sharing agreement, Williams continues on the job with the potential to make millions even though a much less severe financial conflict of interest had sabotaged the Regional Desal Project.

Cal Am’s strategy shows up in various ways. Though the company initially promised the public and the permitting agencies that the intake for the current desal project would be under the bay, the intake is inland. This aggravates the legal challenge over water rights. Remember that Cal Am has no water rights for this project.

Being inland, the intake is smack in the seawater-intruded Salinas River Groundwater Basin (SRGB). The desal intake draws seawater inland, causing more seawater intrusion and legal problems. But Cal Am, of course, has a legal strategy for a “practical solution,” claiming a beneficial use of the largely abandoned intruded aquifer water. It is an innovative legal strategy that must overcome decades of court cases that conclude that overlying water rights holders have prevailing rights. The legal test is yet to come.

By pumping from the Salinas Basin, Cal Am is obliged to “return” source water taken from the intruded aquifers. This is the local law, the Agency Act, governing the basin.

There seems to be no great alarm about the continued high volume of Salinas Basin water in Cal Am’s test slant well samples. Why not? In my opinion, it is because the requirement to return water to the basin is being used to justify expanded infrastructure into new territory. Cal Am is credited with “success” by negotiating a breakthrough deal – the Peninsula and farmers agreed to the plan! But Castroville and the farmers got a great deal, paying less than 3 cents toward each dollar in costs. The difference of 97 cents will come from Peninsula ratepayers.

But the main point is not the cost. It is the infrastructure and rights Cal Am needs to implement the return water agreement. It will need to construct piping and pumping infrastructure in the area, and it will need obtain the authority to deliver potable water to Castroville. It will seek to be a water distributor right in the middle of the jurisdiction of another water purveyor, Marina Coast Water District (MCWD). Yes, it will be able to deliver potable water smack in the middle of another water service area and adjacent to the future development opportunities on the former Fort Ord. Despite another legal challenge, Cal Am will be positioned exactly where it has wanted to be for many years – able to provide water to new Fort Ord development.

Related legal hurdles include overcoming Marina Coast Water District worries that it has been invaded. MCWD is litigating against Cal Am for not making promised payments from the earlier Regional Desal Project. But expect Cal Am to play hardball. Remember that American Water Works has a national expansion strategy to acquire smaller water services (under 10,000 customers) when opportunities arise. These are called “tuck-ins.” MCWD has about 8,000 customers.

Recently, I have pleaded with the Mayors Water Authority to look at the legal risks Cal Am is facing, and the relevant water supply contingencies. But those in the know seem not to be concerned.

This is not mission creep, nor a series of unexpected circumstances. It is corporate planning. I have seen, read and heard too much over the years to think otherwise. I think the corporate strategy is clear. Cal Am will be positioned exactly where it has dreamed to be, right in the middle of Fort Ord, the only area with significant growth potential on the bay. All because it expects to win every legal challenge.

With such litigation ahead, who has confidence that Cal Am will meet the milestones set by the state’s cease-and-desist order?

Riley is managing director of Public Water Now and a regular contributor on water issues. He has been an active observer of each aspect of Cal Am’s desalination ventures and a technical adviser to the Peninsula Mayors Water Authority.

 

George Riley
georgetriley@gmail.com
645-9914

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Monterey wharf operators are simply fudging the facts

 

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If you can’t beat them with facts and figures, try creating your own version of the truth.

That seems to be the strategy of the Fisherman’s Wharf leaseholders, some of whom have operated under sweetheart lease deals for decades. They recently launched another round of public appeals in an attempt to beat back reform efforts at Monterey City Hall by making it sound as though city officials are insisting on unrealistically short leases and that city leaders want to see local businesses replaced by corporate franchises.

On a Facebook page and in petitions now being circulated around the city, restaurant owner Chris Shake and associates contend the city is limiting the leases to 10 years when, in fact, several leaseholders have recently signed longer leases and others have been been offered significantly longer terms.

According to Shake, short leases make it difficult for small businesses to obtain the financing needed to make improvements to the properties. According to officials at City Hall, the city is perfectly willing to extend the leases well beyond 10 years when needed for financing reasons or other factors.

Earlier this summer, Shake announced that he planned to raze one of his restaurants because of onerous conditions imposed by the city. Some news outlets reported that without addressing the city’s viewpoint.

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The businesses behind the “Save our Monterey’s Old Fisherman’s Wharf” Facebook page posted items this week contending that city officials had arbitrarily and unfairly chosen to evict a longstanding tenant, Sam Balesteri, whose family operates two restaurants and a coffee shop. What the posting doesn’t say is that city officials negotiated with the the Balusteris for the past year and couldn’t come to terms. The Balesteri family has operated on a month-to-month rental arrangement while discussions with the city continue.

“We tried our very best for 11 months,” said City Councilwoman Libby Downey, a political target of the wharf enterprises. “They say we wouldn’t give more than 10 years on a lease. We were offering more than 10 years.”

The top photo on the Facebook page depicts the wharf as it would look with a Hooter’s franchise, a McDonalds and other chain businesses. City officials have repeatedly emphasized that they are committed to keeping the wharf operations locally owned.

The Save the Wharf  group and associated businesses are supporting retired school administrator Dan Albert Jr., son of the former mayor, in the November council election and opposing re-election of Downey and Councilman Alan Haffa, who supported elimination of the old leasing structure. For decades, longtime owners of wharf businesses were allowed to almost automatically renew long leases at rates negotiated decades before. In some cases, the leases were held by operators who had gone out of business  but sublet the properties to others paying considerably more.

The petitions and the Facebook postings don’t mention that the city’s effort to reform the leasing process included bringing in Monterey’s leading commercial Realtor, John Mahoney, to professionalize the city’s approach to the wharf.

Shake put his position in a statement being circulated with the petition and on Facebook. The city responded but its position hasn’t received as much attention.

Here’s what the petition says:

“The Monterey City Council recently enacted policies that drastically shorten the ground leases for businesses on Old Fisherman’s Wharf. The formerly 20+ year leases are now limited to 10 years, and the implications should scare residents and fans of our wharf. Many Wharf businesses own the buildings they work in. In fact, some own everything from the ground up, including pilings and structures. They pay leases to the city for the space their buildings occupy. They build and maintain these structures, and they are the ones who pay for improvements. In order to do this, they take out bank loans. And here’s the catch – typically banks won’t loan to businesses with short-term leases. There are already instances of business owners who are reducing their investment because their leases are too short. Now the second piece of bad news – do you know who has the capital to get around this problem? That’s right – the corporate giants of the foodservice and retail world. The Monterey City Council denies it has created an environment that will destroy the proud history of local business on our wharf and create a giant ‘Strip Mall by the Sea.’ But ask any business owner – these lease deals aren’t normal, and they are deadly to family-owned businesses. Join us in keeping our wharf local, traditional, and a proud piece of Monterey’s legacy.”

Here’s the response, from Assistant City Manager Hans Uslar.

“Thank you for bringing this petition to our attention.  The Monterey City Council implemented new updated leasing guidelines last year. The City’s leases with the Wharf concessionaires are public tidelands leases.  All revenue from the leases goes into the City’s Tidelands Trust Fund subject to oversight of the state through the State Lands Commission.  Money from the Tidelands Trust Funds may only be used for purposes consistent with tideland commerce, navigation, fisheries, and recreation.   The City Council will ensure all leases are fairly negotiated, are consistent with Tidelands Trust purposes, and consistent with the City’s Charter.

“The City’s new leases will not be limited to 10 years, but can be 15 years, 20 years, or even longer depending on the cost of alterations a concessionaire commits to investing to improve the building.  Tenant improvements will usually have an economic life that corresponds to the lease term.  The City Council does not want to create a ‘new’ Wharf that will lose its present charm and eclectic mix of restaurants and shops.  The Council heard these concerns and decided to first and foremost negotiate with our current concessionaires to try to enter new lease agreements with them. As a matter of fact, the City’s lease negotiator has exclusively negotiated with existing tenants and concessionaires. To date we have negotiated with three existing tenants and in every case the City has offered leases terms that exceed 10 years due to the improvements the tenants want to make to the premises.

“The Council appreciates the family-owned businesses and the unique brand and atmosphere they bring to our Wharf. We want them to continue to be successful operators.  Under the Council’s guidelines, locally owned businesses will continue to have preference over those outside of Monterey County.  The Council’s goal is to have successful business throughout the City that the people who live, work and visit Monterey want to patronize.  The City has a long history with many local businesses, and it wishes to continue that model.

“Lastly, we appreciate your input and your love for our treasured Wharf. If you would like to learn more about Monterey’s leasing guidelines, please visit www.monterey.org. For the next week or so, we will post our guidelines on our home page, so that you all can see and read them! Thanks again and see you on our Fisherman’s Wharf!”

 

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Global warming

“Earth Just Experienced The Hottest June Ever Recorded – This marks the 14th consecutive month of record-breaking global temperatures.”

“The first six months of 2016 were the warmest half-year on record.”

Global average temperatures in June (2016) were 0.9 degrees Celsius hotter than the average for the 20th century.”

I have been very concerned about climate change for a long time. Last year I joined the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a national non-partisan, non-profit that advocates for national polices that will address climate change. There are 340 chapters nationwide, including our Monterey chapter. The organization is bottom up. By that I mean it first seeks local support and then carries its message (yours and mine) to Congress and the president. Our overall goals are to advance an innovative approach we are proposing to arrest climate change called Carbon Fee and Dividend. The program has been adopted in British Columbia and has been effective in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time bolstering their economy.

For more information, go to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website.

Climate change is perhaps one of the most serious environmental threats we will confront in this century. Climate researchers warn that global warming is occurring faster than in any time in the history of human civilization. What’s more, there’s an overwhelming consensus that human activities are the predominant cause of this anomalous warming. The emission of greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels has dramatically altered the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere, trapping heat and causing steadily higher global land and ocean temperatures. The science is well established and the physical evidence is all around us – dying forests, warming seas, drought and floods, mass die-offs of wildlife, conflagration, famine and conflict.

Climate scientists warn that if we don’t take measurable steps to curb greenhouse gases now, we have virtually no chance of keeping rising temperatures below an overall 2 °C warming goal – a widely accepted threshold that will indeed bring misery but is thought to be a future mankind can live with. Even so, meeting the target means that temperature rise will be substantially greater than that of the previous century (2.2°F/1.25°C temperature rise in the 21st Century verses 1.4 °F/.74 °C temperature rise in the 20th Century).

Scientists also worry that greenhouse gases left unchecked will cause the Earth’s climate to cross tipping points that will fundamentally destabilize earth systems and accelerate the warming. Once that happens, we will be in uncharted territory. What is known is that we will no longer live in a “Goldilocks” planet that made human civilization possible. Our children and their children will be witness to a world full of uncertainty, conflict, crop failures, and shortages. Elegant livings systems will unravel at a pace humans have never seen before.

Carbon Fee and Dividend is not an end-all solution. It’s not a panacea, but a critical step in the right direction. Research and development, conservation, public awareness, reforestation, etc. will continue to be critical. It can work in conjunction with cap and trade. Simply, CFD is an equitable and straightforward way to price carbon. And economists (mostly all) believe that pricing carbon is the only realistic way there is to get us to a green economy. Without the dividend component, however, the additional costs imposed on American households would be highly regressive and simply unjust. Fully 64% of California households will receive a net benefit via the dividend we are proposing. That percentage is substantially higher for minority, low-income, and elderly households.

As a progressive Democrat there’s a lot of stuff I care deeply about. But if our planet descends into an uninhabitable hell, all of those concerns will fall by the wayside. And it’s the poor who will be the hardest hit. Environmental justice and social justice are, after all, inextricably linked. Adaptation strategies will cost a lot of money – money that could be used to better education, healthcare, retraining, scientific research, transportation, income inequality, food insecurity and homelessness.

I also care deeply about the natural world. We might survive, but countless other sentient beings will not. The Age of Humans has already had a crushing impact on livings systems. Climate change will further simplify our world. We’re already seeing the wages of our abuse of the planet. Just 1.5 degrees of temperature rise has already caused havoc. What awaits us when the planet sees another 2-3 degree rise? I think it’s a mistake to downplay the impacts and take the “we’re resilient we’ll get by” (non) strategy.

So what can you do? CCL Monterey is appealing to you for your support. We are currently seeking the endorsements of local cities by way of signed resolutions. Cities like San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Modesto are already onboard. We hope to submit our resolution request to the City of Monterey in the near future. We are looking for residents who are supportive. We can’t do this without you!

If you care about this issue as I do, want to lend your support, join CCL, or have any questions or need more information, I’d be happy to engage further.

Frank Schiavone is a father and grandfather. He and his wife realized a lifelong dream moving to Monterey in 2013. He is an active environmentalist who cares deeply about protecting habitat for rare and endangered species and he has worked for 15 years with several environmental groups (writing grants, newspaper columns, comment letters, white papers and project plans). He can be reached at frankschiavone3@gmail.com.

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IMG_1961 (1)IMG_1964 (1)Some of the many signs that have popped up to thank the fire crews. These are along Highway 68 near the Toro Park encampment.

And here is a list of volunteering opportunities put together by the local chapter of NORML, the marijuana people.

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LARRY PARSONS: The last word on The Donald

donald-trump-cartoon3OK, this is the last time I’ll mention Donald Trump in the Monterey Bay Partisan. I’ve grown weary of the predictable, link-ridden comments that previous posts have invited. I’ll just go with Sen. Ted Cruz here and advise people to vote their conscience come November.

WHY I WON’T VOTE FOR TRUMP

My conscience would never allow me to vote for Trump, even if he were running his entire campaign to the left of Bernie Sanders or winking at the 1,000 points of compassionate conservatism professed by the two Presidents Bush.

Trump lost me years ago when he jumped in the engineer’s cab on the crazy train of birtherism, the malignant slur at the heart of too many Republicans whose antipathy toward a middle-of-the-road Democratic president revolved around a wildly racist theory posited by flat-out kooks.

Trump has never acknowledged that President Obama was born in Hawaii and eligible for his two terms as president. He doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. Trump took credit in 2011 for forcing the president to release his long-form birth certificate, which didn’t placate a single one of his fellow travelers in birther circles. Trump hinted that private investigators he sent to Hawaii had found explosive evidence. He never disclosed those supposed findings. He never will because he lied. He basked in the entire demeaning plunge into the sewers of political discourse because it made him “popular.” Indeed it did. He’s on the ballot as the GOP nominee.

Sorry, you don’t get to pass Go and get my vote if you’re a birther — repentant or, as in Trump’s case, not. Case closed.

BOTTOM LINE CASE FOR CLINTON

It doesn’t matter what I could say here about good reasons for keeping Trump out of the Oval Office. He will be soundly defeated in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, and he will lose in California. Going on at length about his many negatives is preaching to the choir in these parts.

I would like to see the local Republican candidate for Congress, the personable and bright Pacific Grove Councilwoman Casey Lucius, repudiate the man at the top of the GOP ticket to burnish her fresh-kind-of-a-Republican image. I won’t hold my breath, though. It wouldn’t do her any good from a purely political perspective.

That’s why Republican Congressional leaders — House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — will condemn Trump’s bigotry against a Mexican-American judge or his churlish insensitivity to the Muslim-American parents of a slain Army officer. They must go through the motions of decency. But they know the prize is winning the White House. They’ll hold their breath at any malodorous Trump exhalation to beat Hillary Clinton. They are realists. To advance the GOP agenda, they need the presidency.

I’m a realist, too. Trump or Clinton will be the next president. And the next president will appoint several Supreme Court justices, shaping the court for the next 20 years or so.

That’s why McConnell has gone to historic lengths to block Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, a highly qualified and decidedly moderate jurist. The next president will break the high court’s current 4-4 split between liberals and conservatives.

After the authority to use military force as commander in chief, a president has no greater power than to nominate Supreme Court justices. The court has the final say on crucial issues that define our country — voting rights, civil rights, free speech, privacy, executive power, money in politics, police work, same-sex marriage, gun rights, reproductive rights and far more.

GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence on the stump a few days ago predicted Roe vs. Wade, which made abortion access legal, will be “consigned to the ash heap of history” under a President Trump. Pence has his eyes on the big prize — a right-wing Supreme Court majority for the next generation. The only realistic obstacle is Clinton.

Spare me the back-and-forth about Hitlery this, NAFTA that, neocons, war hawks, DNC emails, tax returns, Benghazi, bankruptcies, Crooked Hillary, Cheeto Putin, radical Muslim terror, Monica and “lock her up.”

If Trump wins, his name will be stamped on the Supreme Court Building for years to come, long after the current, birther-born fever breaks. Bad. Very bad.

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Oil and gas well profiled on sunset skyThe anti-fracking hysteria (and I use the word advisedly) in Monterey County and elsewhere is vastly over-wrought, and based almost entirely on misinformation. See this from the EPA.

Here, in a nutshell, is the bottom line: last year there were 300,000 (count ’em, 300,000!) fracked wells in operation in the United States. Common sense tells us, or at least should, that if the magnitude of problems were even a tiny fraction (pardon the pun) of those claimed by the opponents, we we would be in the midst of an actual, as opposed to purely hypothetical, environmental nightmare. This is not to say that there are not risks, but that they are both manageable and greatly outweighed by the benefits.

The simple fact is that fracking has not only made the U.S. the world’s leading producer of oil but, thanks to the substitution of natural gas for coal in electricity production, the world’s leader in the reduction of CO2 emissions. This year, more electricity will be produced from gas-powered plants than from coal-powered plants. Producing electricity from natural gas releases half the CO2 that doing so from coal does, with none of the nasty chemical byproducts. In addition, our dependence upon imported oil (and all that that implies) has been very significantly reduced. Simply put, fracking has had an enormous positive environmental impact.

To put the benefits in more concrete terms, thank fracking for the fact that you are paying a LOT less for gasoline that you were two years ago. See chart.

The truth is that properly regulated fracking would be not merely an economic boon to Monterey County but really, really good for the environment.

Given the standard envrio-nutty response to any suggestion that they are full of it, I should add that I have absolutely no financial interest in any energy-related company.

Allison is a retired computer industry analyst who lives in Carmel Valley.

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Dollarphotoclub_89236926Many houses in North Monterey County, currently affordable to low-income households, will convert to unaffordable market rate unless the Coastal Commission, at its August hearing, makes the unlikely decision to override its staff’s recommendation. Replacements for these homes are not provided for, and there are not any in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, one in three Salinas City School District students is homeless. [#1] They live in cars, trucks, motels or tents, and their chances of someday living in a decent home owned by themselves or their parents are slim to none.

I am asking for your help. What’s needed to prevent this loss is a flood of YOUR emails to Coastal Commissioners.

The issue involves the Jan. 26, 2016, decision by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors (Parker dissenting) to amend the affordability requirement that keeps 161 homes in the Castroville area coastal zone permanently affordable to low-income households. [2]

The decision changes the permanent affordability requirement to 20 years, which will expire in 2020 since the Moro Cojo homes were built in 1999-2000, financed with federal and state subsidies.

By law, their affordability status may not change unless the Board of Supervisors acts consistently with the 1982 North Monterey County Local Coastal Program. It states that Monterey County shall protect affordable housing in the North County coastal zone and, if for any reason the affordable housing must be converted, replacement units shall be required. Despite that mandate, the supervisors voted in January  to amend the permanent affordability restriction at the Moro Cojo project so it will terminate in 2020, and they requited no replacement units. The net effect will be to immediately REDUCE affordable housing stock by over 160 units.

I appealed the board’s decision to the Coastal Commission on the grounds that it violated the 1982 Program related to affordability. Reviewing the appeal, Coastal Commission staff has recommended that the Coastal Commission not interfere with Monterey County’s January decision.  [#3]

The staff report is so long (90 pages) that busy commissioners are unlikely to realize important facts without some guidance. As you will note below, important facts are buried so far into the 90 pages as to virtually guarantee they won’t be read unless someone directs them to the information.

Your emails will help direct the commissioners to the salient points of the appeal; I’m asking that you urge the commissioners to read pages 78-90 of the staff report. Commissioners will learn important facts they will otherwise not know.

Here are examples of what they’ll learn:

  • Marc Del Piero, chair of the 1982 Monterey County Board of Supervisors when the North County Coastal Program was adopted and an author of the program, submitted a declaration supporting the appeal, stating under penalty of perjury that changing the affordability status of the Moro Cojo homes is “clearly inconsistent” with the program. The staff report never mentions his declaration. Instead, it just includes it without comment on pages 78-80.
  • An analysis of the five issues on which the Coastal Commission evaluates consistency with the North Monterey County Coastal Program, with substantial evidence supporting each, also is never mentioned in the staff report. It too is included only as an attachment without comment on pages 81-90.Without a flood of emails alerting the Coastal Commission to the information hidden at the end of attachments to the staff report, Monterey County’s January decision is nearly certain to be sustained and existing affordable housing will be lost with no replacement. Low-income families now homeless will be unable to afford market rate Moro Cojo homes. Sending emails won’t take long. Click on the email address for each of the 19 people with email addresses at http://www.coastal.ca.gov/roster.html.  An email with that addressee’s name will appear. Copy and paste into the subject line: Appeal No. A-3-MCO-16-0017

Then copy and paste this into the body:

I’m a Monterey County resident. I respectfully request you to read important information at pages 78-90 of the staff report in connection with the criteria for finding “substantial issue.” That information is not mentioned elsewhere in the staff report but is important. It will show you why the Coastal Commission should reject staff’s recommendation for the Aug. 10 hearing and instead vote to find “substantial Issue.”

The emails must reach addressees by Aug. 4. Brian O’Neill of the commission staff must be copied on each to prevent the email from being ex parte:

brian.o’neill@coastal.ca.gov

After you send the emails, if you want to feel happy from knowing you’ve done something good, drive to the Moro Cojo subdivision on Castroville Boulevard off Highway 156 near North Monterey County High School. You will find a well-kept neighborhood where low-income families purchased affordable homes and live in dignity. Remember,

  • According to the county’s current cap for resale of Moro Cojo homes, which would become void if the Coastal Commission does not override the County’s 1/26/16 decision, “The current maximum resale value of a three-bedroom house in the [Moro Cojo] subdivision, is $291,750.” (Page 9 at http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2016/8/w16c-8-2016.pdf, far more affordable than market rate.)If the emails persuade Coastal Commissioners to vote for “substantial issue,” a subsequent hearing will be scheduled on the affordable housing policy issues. If the facts are fairly presented, I believe the Coastal Commissioners will override the County’s 1/26/16 decision. That would result in the 161 Moro Cojo homes remaining permanently affordable to low-income households in Monterey County.LINKS:

#1. http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/2014/09/18/homeless-ranks-salinas-schools-up- swing/15809113/

#2. http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20151208/NEWS/151209801

#3. http://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2016/8/w16c-8-2016.pdf

#4. http://www.coastal.ca.gov/roster.html

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