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Intended Decision

A Peninsula environmental group has prevailed in litigation challenging the Fort Ord Reuse Authority’s decision to effectively approve plans for the proposed Eastside Parkway project without first performing an environmental impact report as required by California law.

Monterey County Judge Lydia Villarreal found that FORA and its project partner, Monterey County, took numerous actions and spent considerable amounts of taxpayer money to essentially lock in the location and design of the highway that is intended to provide additional highway access to Fort Ord while linking Highway 68 to Highway 1 on a route skirting the east side of the former Army base.

The group Keep Fort Ord Wild, through attorneys Michael Stamp and Molly Erickson, has argued that the project would promote inappropriate development and that the decision-making process advanced well beyond the proposal stage without the required environmental studies and public input.

“Respondents (FORA and the county) claim their public statements promising CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) review demonstrate the project was not approved,” Villarreal wrote in her notice of intended decision. “But the issue is not necessarily whether there will be environmental review, it is whether there will be meaningful environmental review. If approval is a foregone conclusion, the CEQA process is but a formality, undermining public accountability, one of the primary purposes of CEQA.”

Villarreal provided considerable detail about engineering and route-planning work performed by various engineering firms under contract to FORA, and she cited several court rulings in support of Keep Fort Ord Wild’s position. The group was formed partly to oppose plans for the Monterey Downs horse racing development, which has collapsed of its own weight.

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I have a question for the Fort Ord Reuse Authority board and/or its staff or any of the many members of various FORA boards. Why did the agendas for two meetings coming up this week get sent out to the board, and the public, at midnight Friday?

The first agenda was for the administrative committee meeting scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. That means that people who receive their agendas by email at the office likely won’t see it until Monday and that the many who are taking Monday off won’t see it until about the time the meeting starts.

The second agenda, sent out a minute later, 12:01 a.m. Saturday. It’s for the executive committee meeting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Technically, it’s legit. They met the 72-hour rule. But the spirit of the law was broken like last year’s resolutions. When the 72 hours happens to be a holiday weekend, you could hardly blame even a diligent member of the committee to miss the notice. And the public? It’s possible that some random members of the public might stumble upon the agendas for these meetings but some things simply can’t be avoided, right?

I sent an email to the FORA staff asking about the timing but haven’t heard back yet. If someone finds out before I do, please let us know.

Cheers.

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Antique water fountain, detail of a source for drinking water, drinking water

Antique water fountain, detail of a source for drinking water, drinking water

Editor’s note: The following by Tom Moore of the Marina Coast Water District originally appeared as a response to a previous Partisan post about the advertising for the Sea Haven development, formerly Marina Heights, planned for Marina. It is reposted here to expose it to a wider audience.

Now that we’ve gotten out of our system the national politics associated with the “Coming Soon Marina Heights” development or whatever misleading marketing names they will come up with for it, let’s get back to water and why you should not worry/worry.

The Sea Haven/Marina Heights project, along with all of the former Fort Ord, is served by Marina Coast Water District (MCWD). While most of you know the following facts, they are included here for any new readers:

  • MCWD is a government organization, not a private company. As such it is prohibited from making a profit off its ratepayers.
  • MCWD has nothing to do with Cal Am or the Cal Am service area (unless you count the various suits filed by Cal Am against MCWD and MCWD’s countersuits against them as “having to do with”…).
  • MCWD owns outright all of the water service and wastewater collection infrastructure on the former Fort Ord and in Marina itself.
  • MCWD owns nearly 5,200 acre-feet per year (AFY) of the 6,600 AFY of groundwater pumping rights attached to the former Fort Ord (the U.S. Army owns the other approximately 1,400 AFY).
  • MCWD owns 2.2 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater treatment rights for the former Fort Ord (the Army owns the other 1.1 MGD).
  • By contract (with FORA), MCWD is honoring and will continue to honor FORA’s allocation of the 5,200 AFY of groundwater pumping rights to the underlying land use jurisdictions (Seaside, DRO, Marina, City of Monterey and Monterey County).
  • FORA long ago divvied up the 5,200 AFY and distributed portions to these land use jurisdictions (even though they do not actually own the rights themselves).
  • ALL of this groundwater comes from the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin (SVGB). None of it comes from the Carmel River or Cal Am.

When the “Coming Soon Marina Heights” development proposal came to the city of Marina many years ago (under a different political regime) it got several sweet deals. The one that irked those of us keeping an eye on MCWD was that the city pretended that the development would use less water than MCWD engineers said the development would need. This occurred because the city wanted to entitle not only “Coming Soon Marina Heights” but also the Dunes development and Cypress Knolls. However, MCWD’s engineer told the city that there would most likely not be quite enough water in the city’s allocation of groundwater from FORA to build out all three developments.

Those of us who have been paying attention have noted that the full build-out of these various Ord Community developments (despite even the current rapid pace of construction) is many years away. So there is still time for MCWD to find and develop the additional relatively small amounts of water needed to support full build-out …. (OK, if you want to glom onto the “no worries” viewpoint you should stop reading here)… unless things go badly with our groundwater.

So how could things go badly with our groundwater? There are two broad possibilities:

1. If Cal Am succeeds in using the CEMEX property to obtain source water for the size of desal plant that it wants, Cal Am will be taking at least 27,000 AFY from a location a mere 1.8 miles from MCWD’s nearest potable water well and less than 1,800 feet from the location of the source water well for MCWD’s desal plant. This presents a serious potential threat to the groundwater south of the Salinas River where all of MCWD’s wells are located.

(For comparison purposes, MCWD currently pumps less than 4,000 AFY from its wells — thanks to water-conserving ratepayers in Marina and the Ord Community! However, MCWD has the right to pump more than a total of 10,000 AFY eventually. Just the Ord Community’s build out demand has been estimated at 9,000 AFY.)

2. The new groundwater sustainability act ends up forcing MCWD to forfeit some portion of its current total groundwater pumping rights. The whole point of the act was to make groundwater pumpers behave collectively in such a way as to sustain indefinitely the groundwater basins that serve them. Since the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin has for decades been experiencing seawater intrusion, it is not currently in a sustainable condition. The consequence could be cutbacks in future pumping of groundwater.

And for those of you who may believe that we really don’t have a problem because we live next to the ocean and there is an infinite amount of water there, here is some more bad news. For the past 20 years or so, Cal Am has been proving that it’s not so easy to get source water from the ocean. If it was so easy, why aren’t they getting their source water from Monterey, Seaside or Sand City beachfronts? They could buy up a property in Sand City for the Cal Am desal plant itself and save a whole bunch of pipeline construction. For that matter, if it is so easy to get source water for a desal plant, why not get it from Carmel beachfront? They would avoid tens of millions of dollars of new pipelines through Monterey that are required under their current proposal.

The fact is that desal is NOT easy. Ratepayers don’t want to pay for it, some folks don’t want infrastructure on their pristine beach, regulatory agencies want to make sure the infrastructure causes as little harm as possible, the plants themselves are complicated to operate and maintain, the plants are expensive to build and very expensive to operate (salt and other stuff just doesn’t like to leave water – check the physics involved in the chemistry), the engineering is challenging and few people welcome the disposal of the brine output in their patch of sea. Oh, and did I mention that the ratepayers don’t want to pay for it.

All of these challenges have to be overcome to build a successful desal project that produces water. MCWD should know because it built and operated the first government-owned desal plant on the Central California coast. MCWD knows what these challenges were like and what kind of limitations they put on what is actually feasible. And the plant is currently mothballed precisely because it is too expensive to operate and maintain as long as we have access to groundwater at one tenth the cost.

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Set of wooden pinocchio puppet dolls

Fourth District Supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue, center, and his campaign advisers discussing what to say next about Jane Parker

For those of you who haven’t read enough yet about Dennis Donohue’s attempt to portray Jane Parker as an unpatriotic, veteran-hating lefty, here’s a little more.

The very short version is that in a news release on Tuesday, former Salinas mayor Donohue struggled mightily to back up his previous assertions that Supervisor Parker, his opponent in the June 7 election, has done her darnedest to mess up the redevelopment of Fort Ord, even going so far as to oppose the veterans cemetery. He even argued in one of his mailings that Parker had managed to block construction of the cemetery despite these two facts. A. Parker never voted against the cemetery in any fashion and B. Construction of the cemetery is well under away and the first phase is expected to be completed in late summer. He said her votes against the cemetery and rebuilding the fort had cost the county millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

In his news release, Donohue stuck by his allegations, though they have been thoroughly discredited by, among others, state Sen. Bill Monning, who sponsored the successful legislation creating and funding the cemetery.

You can read his news release here. His evidence, his only evidence, in it was his assertion that in two meetings of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, Sept. 14, 2012, and Oct. 12, 2012, Parker had voted to change the location of the cemetery, a location that hasn’t been changed.

Here is what Donohue said: “The facts are extremely clear as in consecutive Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) meetings (September 14 and October 12, 2012) that were attended by Senator Monning, Ms. Parker and myself, Ms. Parker voted to request the FORA staff to recommend a new location for the Veteran’s Cemetery, needlessly delaying the project.”

“Furthermore,” continued Donohue, “October 12, 2012 meeting, she voted again to direct staff to look for additional locations and that motion was defeated 12-1.”

Unfortunately for Donohue, there is a record of what occurred at those meetings. It isn’t what he says. Not even close.

According to the staff report and the minutes of those two meetings, there was NO board discussion of relocating the cemetery.

Here’s what it was about, but first a warning. FORA meetings are all about process, not actually doing things: The issue was the fact that the 1996 Base Reuse Plan did not include the Veterans Cemetery as a project. At the request of Seaside City Councilman Ian Oglesby, the staff asked the FORA board how it wished to add the cemetery to the plan and to consider whether the so-called endowment parcel next to the cemetery should be labeled residential rather than open space/recreation. The endowment parcel was created as a potential way to finance the cemetery.

The board was presented with three procedural options. Option 1 involved waiting until Seaside brought forth an entire project proposal for the area. Option 2 was to include these changes in the list of changes being compiled as part of the Base Plan Reassessment Process, since there were other additions and edits needed to the document. Option 3 allowed the board to vote right then and there on changes. There were questions about whether Option 3 would be legally effective.

There also was discussion about why the board would want to make changes to the endowment parcel when other buyers may be available to move more quickly than Monterey Downs, so it could be wise to leave the uses open rather than tailored to one buyer.

On a motion by then-Carmel Mayor Burnett, seconded by Parker, the board voted 7-4 at the Sept. 14 meeting to direct staff to return to the board with an option that allowed the board to move ahead with the cemetery as quickly as could be done legally, and leave the endowment parcel to be addressed through Option 1 if and when Seaside had a project for the site. Since the action was not unanimous, it required a second vote.

That second vote took place at the October meeting. Supervisor Parker voted yes again, but the rest of the board voted no, apparently because Burnett alluded to having talked to the city of Seaside and finding there apparently was some agreement to proceed with all the changes under the Option 2 method in another six to 12 months, which never occurred. Supervisor Parker’s vote for the original motion would have resulted in the cemetery being added to the base plan earlier. A videotape of the meetings shows that neither Parker nor any of the board members discussed the location of the cemetery.

Don’t take my word for it. You can read the staff report and the minutes simply by clicking the links below.

VC Staff Report 10.12.12

FORA 10.12.12BrdMin

FORA 09.14.12 Brd Min

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Supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue has sent a batch of mailers to Peninsula voters that are variations of the mailers that drew serious heat from state Sen. Bill Monning last week. The new ones are toned down to a degree but still twist Parker’s record on the veterans cemetery at Fort Ord.

The Salinas mailers essentially accused Parker of blocking the cemetery, even though it is already under construction, said Parker opposed the cemetery, which she didn’t, and made the false claim that it would take Donohue’s election to the Board of Supervisors to get the cemetery project started. back

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The latest missive says Parker “was the ONLY member of the FORA (Fort Ord Reuse Authority) board to vote against (the cemetery’s) location, siding with her special interest friends. She needlessly delayed the project, denying Monterey County veterans the honorable resting place they deserve.”

Despite what Donohue says, nothing Parker did delayed the cemetery project or denied anyone a resting place, according to Monning, who sponsored the legislation creating and financing the cemetery. The new Donohue mailer attributes those claims to two articles in the Monterey County Weekly from July 14 and July 21, 2011.

The first article doesn’t get into the cemetery but does address the somewhat related Whispering Oaks business park at Fort Ord. That’s where Monterey-Salinas Transit wanted to build a bus yard, near where the cemetery is being built and near the proposed Monterey Downs horse park project. Parker did indeed vote against the Whispering Oak project, largely because it would have required removal of tens of thousands of oaks. The Board of Supervisors approved the project, which led to 18,000 signatures of voters demanding a ballot measure on the project. At that point, Supervisor Dave Potter publicly acknowledged that the original vote was a big mistake and that the supervisors had learned their lesson. The board then voted 4-1 to kill the project, an action that had no impact on the cemetery.

In order to gain veterans’ support for the Monterey Downs venture, the developers attempted to link the fate of the Whispering Oaks and cemetery projects to Monterey Downs but officials on the various elective bodies involved managed to untangle the issues. Parker’s vote had nothing to do with the cemetery and did nothing to delay it.

The July 21, 2001, article cited by the Donohue campaign focuses on the issue of the artificial mingling of the cemetery and horse park ventures. Parker is quoted as saying she thought it was a bad idea to make the cemetery’s fate dependent on the horse park. The first phase of the cemetery is expected to be completed this summer. The Monterey Downs venture remains months or longer away from initial approvals and its backers still have not secured all the land or the water rights they need. The article does nothing to support Donohue’s claim.

Elsewhere in the same flyer, Donohue says, “On the Board of Supervisors, Parker voted against the redevelopment of Fort Ord thanks to pressure from her special interest campaign contributors. It cost the county millions of dollars, hundreds of jobs and new life to blighted properties.”

Let’s take the second sentence first. Parker has voted against redevelopment of Fort Ord, and Donohue is the only one who knows this? And her lone vote on a five-member board, which never actually happened, cost Monterey County millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs?

On articles of this type, the Partisan attempts to maintain some detachment and let the facts speak from themselves but this one causes us to conclude that Donohue must truly think the voters of District 4 are idiots.

Now let’s turn to the first sentence. The flyer attributes that one, about voting against “the redevelopment of Fort Ord,” to the minutes of a Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 22, 2009. There were, in fact, two Fort Ord-related matters on the agenda that day, both involving Whispering Oaks, proposed bus yard.

Here is everything the minutes have to say about those matters:

Acting as the Board of Directors of the Redevelopment Agency of the County of Monterey: Agreement No. A-11544

  1. Approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the RedevelopmentAgency of the County of Monterey and Monterey Salinas Transit for the MST Operations and Maintenance Facility within the proposed Fort Ord Whispering Oaks Business Park; and
  2. Directed the Auditor-Controller to amend the Fiscal Year 2009-10 Budget to increase revenues and appropriations by $575,000 in Fund 173, Unit 8213 – Fort Ord Capital. (4/5th vote required)

It was not about “the redevelopment of Fort Ord.” It was about one project and it was initially approved by the supervisors. Zero millions of dollars were lost. Zero jobs were lost.

Donohue has not responded to press inquiries about the flyers. If and when he does, he likely will blame it all on his campaign staff. He needs, instead, to apologize.

Here is the Partisan’s report on the earlier mailers and Sen. Monning’s reaction.

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Falsely states that cemetery has been blocked by Supervisor Jane Parker

DSCN0380 (1)Politicians rarely weigh in on campaigns other than their own but a new mailing by Monterey County supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue strayed so far from the facts that it provoked a strong denunciation from state Sen. Bill Monning.

“I just saw the Donohue hit piece against Supervisor Parker,” said Monning. “This is so erroneous and inaccurate that I hardly know where to start. ”

The mailer claims that Parker, the 4th District incumbent, somehow is blocking the veterans cemetery at Fort Ord even though it is already under construction.

“The California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery is already under construction and scheduled for opening in August or September this year – well before this candidate could even take office,” Monning said Saturday.

A headline in the mailer says, “Jane Parker says ‘No’ to Veterans and Monterey County,” and the text says, “Only one vote on the Board of Supervisors stands between Monterey County veterans and a long-awaiting military cemetery at Fort Ord. Dennis Donohue strongly supports the plan and will stand with veterans to get it done.”

Monning, D-Carmel, has been heavily involved in  the cemetery project, working closely with the Board of Supervisors, area legislators, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority and veterans organizations. He sponsored legislation establishing the cemetery and securing more than $2 million for the project. He said Saturday that Parker had supported the cemetery “every step of the way.”

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Former Salinas mayor Dennis Donohue

“For Donohue to suggest that establishment of the veterans cemetery only awaits his affirmative vote to come to fruition is not only false, it is disrespectful and dismissive of all of us who have worked to establish the cemetery,” the senator said.

“For Dennis Donohue to vilify Jane as somehow not supporting the veterans cemetery is false and misleading and intentionally designed to deceive the voters. I am disappointed to see a candidate initiate a campaign based on lies and deception instead of advancing an honest portrayal of what he might aspire to do as a supervisor,” said Monning.”If this is how Donohue runs his campaign, would he also throw truth and ethics to the winds if elected?”

The mailer also attacks Parker for her opposition to a related venture, the failed plan by Monterey-Salinas Transit to build a transit center near the cemetery site at Fort Ord. The initial Board of Supervisors’ approval of that project led to a referendum measure motivated mostly by plans to cut down thousands of trees. The referendum led to another vote by the supervisors during which Supervisor Dave Potter acknowledged that the original vote was a mistake and Supervisor Lou Calcagno praised the protesters as being “right on.”

Unfortunately for voters attempting to follow the status of the cemetery project, the developers behind the proposed Monterey Downs horse racing and housing venture initially linked their venture’s approval to the cemetery and the transit yard, an attempt to artificially create political pressure on officials opposed to the Monterey Downs effort. That enabled the developers to enlist some local veterans to criticize politicians who expressed concerns about the environmental impacts of the large Monterey Downs venture, which has not acquired the necessary property, approvals or water rights it needs to advance.

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Business growth opportunity concept as a group of business people taking advantage of a tall tree grown in time to create a bridge to cross over and link two seperate cliffs as a motivation metaphor for financial patience and opportunismThe Partisan takes a timeout from its Truth-O-Meter series today to look instead at two recent endorsements by the Monterey Herald. It probably is not a coincidence that we chose these editorial endorsements because they ran exactly counter to the Partisan’s own choices.

We won’t argue the overall recommendations. Newspaper endorsements don’t have to make sense. Instead, we will pick and choose some of the key elements that seem to underly those choices.

More than any other topic, the Herald’s endorsement of Dennis Donohue to replace District 4 Supervisor Jane Parker focused on Fort Ord and the pace of redevelopment there.

It noted that the district takes in much of Fort Ord and says “the position and ideas of the District 4 Board of Supervisors candidates on reuse of Fort Ord are key factors in our endorsement, given the hopes pinned on Fort Ord reuse by the entire region for economic redevelopment, housing and jobs.”

The editorial, unfortunately, neglects to explain the governance of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, which is responsible for redeveloping the former Army base or, perhaps closer to the truth, for not really getting very far on redeveloping the former base, which closed in the mid 1990s.

The agency charged with redevelopment is governed by an unwieldy board of directors, 13 members with voting rights and a large cast of non-voting members. The voting members represent most of the government jurisdictions with a stake in the process, including the surrounding cities and the county. Four of the five supervisors are members or alternates. Parker is a member and so is Supervisor Dave Potter, who received the Herald’s endorsement in the other supervisorial race. By implication, the Herald seems to be faulting the FORA board in general for not doing more to turn old barracks into new shopping centers, but where exactly should that blame land? The Herald seems to be forgetting that Donohue was an active member of the FORA board while he was mayor of Salinas and, therefore, the newspaper made little of his  missed opportunity to speed things up. The Herald also seems to forget that a large segment of the local population isn’t all that keen on major new development at Fort Ord.

What’s that? One person can’t provide much momentum to the redevelopment bureaucracy. Our point exactly.

The Herald likes it that Donohue is in favor of the proposed but way-off-in-the-distance Eastside Parkway, a new highway that would run through Fort Ord to connect Highways 68 and 1. Again, as much as the Herald might wish it otherwise, while an individual supervisor wields considerable power on issues that come before the five-member Board of Supervisors, the same supervisor holds just one of 17 votes on the primary highway-building agency hereabouts, TAMC.

The Herald finds it telling that most of the city officials in the district support Donohue rather than Parker. The Partisan finds it telling as well. Those who support Donohue have histories of supporting virtually any project in their realms, everything from cookie-cutter fast food joints to the hugely unpopular Monterey Downs horse racing complex proposed for Fort Ord.

Herald political endorsements of late seem to hinge on the degree to which the candidate supports development, and while the development wish list always gives a nod to jobs and affordable housing, few public figures in our midst have accomplished anything of note in those arenas in recent years. Perhaps the newspaper blames Parker. If so, it has not been paying close attention. Peninsula residents, and to some degree all Monterey County residents, are witnessing a contest between the forces of commerce and the forces of conservation. While Donohue, like many other development-minded politicians, claims to be in favor of “smart growth,” he and his allies haven’t been able come up with concrete examples to propose or support.

The Herald’s endorsement of Donohue overstates the impact of one public official and mistakenly suggests that electing him over Parker would change the board and its direction. Actually, the opposite is true. Parker throughout her political career has been a nearly lone wolf fighting to protect the environment and she has been outvoted at nearly every turn by people in synch with Donohue. Keeping Parker in place and making changes elsewhere, such as in District 5, would amount to much more meaningful and positive change.

In case you didn’t notice, that was a transition. Moving along now to the Herald’s endorsement of District 5 Supervisor Dave Potter over challenger Mary Adams.

In the Potter endorsement, the Herald gives the incumbent big points for experience and tenure without mentioning what little has come of it.

“On water, Potter clearly knows the urgency of securing a new Peninsula supply,” the Herald writes. “He supports Cal Am’s desal project with reclaimed waste water as part of the total solution. Adams indicated she was still uncertain about the desal project, and she placed a higher emphasis on conservation.”

It is true that Potter “clearly knows” the urgency of securing a new Peninsula water supply. That’s because the state’s mandate that we cut back on our use of the Carmel River has been in effect the entire time he has been in office but his clear knowledge of the urgency has resulted in nothing except huge expense.

While serving on the board for two decades, Potter has worn a remarkable number of other hats. He has been on the state Coastal Commission and has forever been a board member for the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. If there is any one public official who could have been expected to show leadership on the Peninsula’s water crisis, it was Potter. Yet the only leading role he seems to have taken was to help lead the county into a messy conflict of interest involving water official Steve Collins, a conflict that derailed years of work on a desalination solution.

It is true that Adams places a higher value on conservation. A large majority of Peninsula residents has lost faith in Cal Am and officialdom’s ability to complete a desalination project at anything approaching a reasonable cost and, out of necessity, also places a higher value on conservation.

“Potter has a much better grasp of all facets of the water issue, and there really is not any time for a steep learning curve on this critical issue,” the Herald opines. What Potter truly grasps is how a community spent 20 years failing to make measurable progress. If Adams is elected, it will take her about 20 minutes to get caught up on that history.

The Herald also likes it that Potter likes the idea of an Eastside Parkway and criticizes Adams for not knowing much about it. The Partisan’s suggestion is simply this. If it is so important to the local economy and well-being, perhaps some explanatory articles would be advisable. And perhaps the Herald can think of a way to give some special highway-building, job-creating, water-making powers to their favored candidates in case they win.

Partisan proprietor Royal Calkins is a former editor and opinion page editor for the Herald and, therefore, cannot convincingly assert that he is not disgruntled in at least some respects.

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horses neonI am a Seaside resident who is very concerned about the possibility of Seaside having a horse racing track development within our city boundaries. There is an important item regarding this on the agenda of the next City Council meeting.

 I urge all Seaside residents to attend the meeting that starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at Seaside City Hall.

The last item (9A) is the renewal of the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with Monterey Downs. This agreement was first signed for 12 months on Sept. 16, 2010. After several extensions by the city manager, the council voted to extend the ENA until Dec.12, 2014. A further extension shifted that date to March 12, 2015. Now the full council must decide if the Monterey Downs ENA will be extended for another 12 months.

 Check out the agenda and packet online.

Do we Seaside residents feel that Monterey Downs with its 1,300 homes,three hotels, a commercial district, a 6,500-seat arena and more than 20 acres of paved parking lots will truly benefit our city? Is this horse racing track going to be a viable business even though race tracks across the country are closing? Are we thinking about the ongoing noise and light pollution that will come with this massive development? Horses need 75 gallons of water a day while local residents are now conserving to use only 48 gallons! From where is the water for the many horses coming?

The Urban Design Team working with the Fort Ord Reuse Authority has pointed out that more tax dollars come from high density building in the center of a city than from projects built on the outskirts. We may be squandering our forest on a mirage!

Willie Harrell, publisher of the Seaside Post, has pointed out that Monterey Downs is just too large of a project and should never have been taken on by our City Council.

Outdoor recreation is a growing industry and more people are discovering the health benefits of getting outside into nature. Let’s utilize Seaside’s connection to Fort Ord National Monument as a way to expand our economy rather than block and compromise that connection with a horse racing development.

CSU Monterey Bay is continuing to grow and as it does we will benefit by having a large, world-class university within our boundaries. Faculty and students say that one of the reasons they choose CSUMB is for the access to trails and wilderness environment.

Danny Bakewell is developing Fort Ord lands within Seaside and his projects (built on formerly developed lands) will also bring jobs to Seaside. We don’t need to destroy our coastal oak woodland environment to create jobs.

We must be wise developers of the public lands that have been given to our city. We need projects that are sized right and work with all of Seaside, not massive projects like Monterey Downs which will drain our resources.

Let the council know that it’s time to say “NO” to a development that has the potential to harm rather than enhance the economic health and quality of life of our city. Let the council know that we residents will support them in ending the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Monterey Downs.

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