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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for briberyLocal campaign contribution reports over the past week created no new intrigues but Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter had three interesting items to report.

Potter, campaigning to retain his seat in the 5th Supervisorial District, reported returning a $2,000 contribution from David Demshur of Houston, whose Core Laboratories is a big player in the oil fracking industry. Potter’s latest campaign filing says the money was returned May 13, the day after the Partisan wrote about the contribution.

With an anti-fracking initiative heading to the November ballot, the candidates are sensitive to any perception of support from the oil industry, but both Potter and his opponent, Mary Adams, have received contributions from South County landowners who could benefit from a fracking boom.

Parker also accepted a $1,000 contribution in April from prominent oil and gas lawyer Lawrence Wolfe of Cheyenne, Wyo.

Potter maintains a big fund-raising lead over Adams thanks to considerable input from both inside and outside the area. Two recent outside contributions that advance the campaign story line: $500 from Chris Bardis and $1,000 from Susan McCabe.

Bardis is a Sacramento attorney who is a big promoter of harness racing and horse racing in general. The Adams campaign has gone after Potter for bringing the Monterey Downs horse racing proposal to Fort Ord and for his behind-the-scenes work to promote the tremendously controversial project.

McCabe is noteworthy because she is the most active and successful lobbyist of the California Coastal Commission, of which Potter was once a member. She almost always represents people or businesses wanting to develop along the shore and she has come under recent scrutiny for her role in removing strong environmentalist Charles Lester from the commission’s leadership position. In his campaign filing, Potter identifies her only as a “self-employed manager.”

In campaign mailings, Adams has made much of Potter’s low rating by environmental groups while he was on the commission, which led to his earlier removal from the commission. He was replaced by Santa Cruz Assemblyman Mark Stone, who has a much better environmental report card.

The Carmel Pine Cone in its last edition attacked Adams with exceptional vigor, claiming she was lying about Potter having been removed from the commission. To support that, the weekly paper interviewed then-Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, who said she had appointed Stone in Potter’s place only because it was time for a change and that she had not even considered Potter’s voting record. The Pine Cone accepted that as gospel, apparently not even considering that Bass was merely reciting the type of lines scripted for such occasions. It is inconceivable that an Assembly speaker would make such an important change without carefully examining the records of the former commissioner and his replacement. Inconceivable to most, that is.

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Cars in a parking lot

This is not what the framers of Marina’s general plan intended

TO HEAR SOME FOLKS SPIN IT, THE MARINA CITY COUNCIL IS OPPOSED TO RESTAURANTS IN OR AROUND THE DUNES SHOPPING CENTER AND HAS VOTED AGAINST THEM AND THE WILL OF THE SHOPPING PUBLIC.

IN FACT, THE ISSUE BEFORE THE COUNCIL HAS TO DO WITH WHETHER MARINA SHOULD ALLOW DEVELOPERS TO BUILD WHATEVER THEY WANT, LEADING TO A CITY OF STRIP MALLS AND PARKING LOTS, OR IF THE CITY SHOULD STICK BY ITS PLAN TO TRY TO CREATE SOMETHING BETTER, MIXED USED, PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY RETAIL CENTERS.

THIS ARTICLE BY MARGARET DAVIS, ORIGINALLY POSTED IN THE PARTISAN IN AUGUST, HELPS SPELL IT OUT.

Since 1994, thousands of Monterey County residents have participated in public hearings, charrettes, symposia, and workshops on the reuse of Fort Ord, working with planners and electeds to craft a vision for well integrated, prosperous destinations and neighborhoods from the ruins of the former base.

Marina was the biggest recipient of federal land and its properties are for the most part highly visible–especially what became the Dunes development, along Highway 1, south of Imjin Parkway.

The Fort Ord Reuse Plan’s prescription for Fort Ord is replete with keywords such as sustainability, physical and visual linkage, concentrated development next to open space, major employment centers, transit and pedestrian access, special identity, integration, environmental stewardship, and, in sum, “sensitive site and facility planning and design.”

Marina was responsive to this Reuse Plan direction in 2003 and called for extensive citizen participation in hammering out how this would be expressed at the Dunes. This public–council–staff collaboration is reflected in the Dunes on Monterey Bay Specific Plan.

The Dunes (or University Villages, as it was formerly called) was to be an urban center built according to modern, tried, profitable, and humane design principals, enjoying the buzz and appeal of creative mixed use consistent with the Reuse Plan and Marina general plan. Multiple-use commercial parcels were included as economic drivers to provide multiple benefits to the city. The general plan sets the standard for multiple-use properties, explaining, “The intent of the multiple-use commercial category is to permit and encourage a mix of different land-use types in a planned and integrated manner [and] … serves a number of functions, including reducing the total number of vehicular trips by encouraging multiple- purpose trips and access by foot to many destinations.” –General Plan Primary Policy 2.4.5.

Multiple-use zoning includes a minimum density requirement, so you don’t waste your best commercial land on a small development that won’t bring in revenue. The density is measured in floor-area ratio, or FAR. High FARs permit denser developments that lead to greater revenue streams for a jurisdiction. At the Dunes, high density encourages a walkable and integrated shopping experience like Del Monte Center’s, rather than widely spaced retail dominated by parking lots. Concentrated, “intense” development creates room for adjacent open space and connections to parks, trails, and public areas.

With that background, the issue is as follows: at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 1, the Marina City Council will vote on an amendment to eliminate the minimum density requirements from multiple-use properties.

This amendment to the general plan is proposed to accommodate a single developer at the Dunes and his extremely low-density project south of the REI/Target parking lot.

The specific plan for the 3.7-acre project site calls for a total of 57,230 square feet of floor space, stacked in three two-story buildings. The developer proposes 21,000 square feet of floor space, a reduction in FAR from .34 to .13.

A .34 FAR is not high to begin with. For comparison, the Grocery Outlet shopping center at Del Monte and Reservation has a FAR of .32.

The proposed project features several fast-food chains, including two drive-throughs running along 2nd Avenue, a hair salon, a Verizon outlet, etc.

I am asking Partisan readers who understand the long-term value of Fort Ord land and support economically robust, socially rewarding design at the Dunes to endorse an online petition asking the Marina council to deny the request to modify the general plan.

The petition is here.

The proposed general plan amendment would:

  1. Inflict long-term economic injury to city of Marina, and by extension, the region
  2. Reduce potential job opportunities in Marina
  3. Reduce opportunities for small business
  4. Underutilize Marina’s valuable land
  5. Promote “strip mall” development
  6. Discourage use of public transportation
  7. Discard smart planning principles
  8. Eliminate requirements that encourage people-oriented, mixed-use “destinations”
  9. Influence overall development patterns throughout the Dunes, shifting from an emphasis on walkability towards a “park and re-park” automobile orientation

The economic effects of the proposed amendment are summarized in the staff report to the Marina Planning Commission (May 28, 2015):

In addition to maintaining sufficient intensity of use to promote a pedestrian-oriented pattern of development, the intent of a minimum FAR  is to ensure economic development that provides a strong fiscal base and prevent underutilization of land. Land appropriate for community development is intended in the General Plan to be allocated and phased in a manner that enhances local employment and economic opportunities and provides the City with a strong economic and fiscal base (General Plan Primary Policy 2.4.12). A diversified and sound economic base is consistent with General Plan Goal No. 9, in that it will permit the delivery of high-quality public services to city residents and businesses (Section 1.18.9). The proposed text amendment would allow development that underutilizes the potential intensity of land uses and, therefore, minimizes enhancements to the City’s economic and fiscal base.

Marina now has a wellness center, hotel, shopping center, VA clinic, university campus, MPC, cinema, and 1,200 new homes underway at the Dunes. The location is prime for the type of development that includes restaurants, retail, business suites, and lofts.

The vision of the Fort Ord Reuse Plan, Marina General Plan, and the Dunes on Monterey Bay Specific Plan is within Marina’s grasp.

Margaret Davis is a member of the Marina Planning Commission and executive director of the Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse. She is a recipient of Supervisor Jane Parker’s Instigator of Excellence Award.

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Monterey Downs backers are trying to distort reality

People on Gigling

Plenty of people want the Monterey Downs site just the way it is

At the Monterey County League of Women Voters presentation on April 8, Beth Palmer, chief operating officer of Monterey Downs, stated that nobody wanted the land that Monterey Downs wants to develop, so Monterey Downs stepped up to fill that void. That’s nonsense unless “wanted” simply means “wanted to develop” such as Monterey Downs proposes.

In point of fact, 23 years ago, 11 local and national groups made the case for environmentally protecting the entire area south of Inter-Garrison Road, which includes the now-proposed Monterey Downs site. To be clear, these well-educated and insightful folks wanted the land protected from the type of development such as Brian Boudreau and Beth Palmer are proposing.  As evidence, please review the “Fort Ord Parklands – a Vision Statement” completed in January 1992. Note that among the many groups that prepared and endorsed this report were the Sierra Club and the Native Plant Society, along with nine other influential non-profit groups. Highlighted in yellow are many sections of the report that are relevant to the controversy at hand. Here is one particularly significant paragraph from the introductory remarks.
 
“Fringing the 8,000 acre Impact Zone is a Recreational Land greenbelt buffer area, where recreational activities and trails are proposed. The Impact Zone is designated Open Space Land, where wildlife habitat and natural ecological processes should be allowed to continue uninterrupted. The entire coastal zone and the remaining inland area south of Intergarrison Road is (sic) designated Parks/Wildlife Preserve Lands to protect the unique Maritime Chaparral, Oak Woodlands and Native Grassland areas and high concentrations of rare and uncommon plants and animals. Fort Ord harbors the last large habitat tracts of vegetation that were once typical of the Monterey Peninsula. These lands support many threatened endemic species that are naturally restricted to the central coast region and found nowhere else in the world.”
 
If one reads this scientific report, at least the sections highlighted in yellow, it becomes obvious that Keep Fort Ord Wild and other environmentally concerned groups are just attempting to preserve the same undeveloped wilderness that the 1992 Fort Ord Parklands Group said should be preserved over 23 years ago!
 
Here is the mission statement of Keep Fort Ord Wild:
 
“Keep Fort Ord Wild is a community coalition dedicated to the preservation of trails, recreation, wildlife and habitat on Fort Ord. We support sensible, economically viable, redevelopment of the extensive blight within the urban footprint of the former base. We support conservation of existing undeveloped open space for the enjoyment of current and future generations.”
 
So, clearly, the land in question is not unwanted land. In fact many of us have been fighting for nearly five years now to convince the leaders and populace that this land has been ‘wanted’ for its true intrinsic value as stated so well in the ‘Preservation Goals’ at the conclusion of the Parklands report, and quoted below.
 
“When Fort Ord closes, the primary economic base for the Monterey Peninsula will be tourism, a clean industry well established in this splendid region. Although the large number and variety of hotels and resorts available to visitors provides a great attraction, it is the outstanding natural beauty of the open space landscape that draws most people to the area. It is economically sound to provide recreational opportunities that enhance the visitor experience, fulfill the recreational needs of the local resident community, and maintain the ecological integrity of the natural landscape.”
 
Let’s keep Fort Ord wild!

Bill Weigle is professor emeritus of mathematics and environmental studies at the University of Maine at Machias. He lives in Seaside. His commentary first appeared in the Monterey Herald.

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Lovely girl and little pony

Contrarian Larry Parsons wants people to remember that a vote against Monterey Downs is a vote against ponies

It’s one of the glorious days when possible subjects to write about are falling from the sky like so many stars in a Jimi Hendrix song.

First, there are all advance quotes from former Vice President Dick Cheney’s interview in the upcoming issue of Playboy in which he — major SPOILER alert — calls President Obama the worst president of all time and space.

This from the guy who never saw an oil well or potential Middle Eastern war without feeling lust in his heart. Cue the Jimmy Carter canoe-and-cannibal-rabbit story, and juxtapose it with the time Cheney was bitten by a floppy-eared werewolf.

Another subject, naturally, is Starbucks’ harebrained push for employees to engage customers in conversations about racial relations in the United States. People much higher in their pay grades in politics, pulpits, the media and corporate board rooms should be having these conversations — not $10-an-hour baristas, for pity’s sake.

“Reparations, race cards, rap music!!! Just give me caffeine, for #!?%’s sake.” Oh, the sound of America healing.

And there is the Hillary problem — that amorphous, media-fed tidal wave carrying the flotsam of secret emails, cattle futures, travel bookings, botched health-care plans and being-married-to-Bill again to the shores of our presidential politics. But there will be time, oh, there will be time, to wear out the fingers blogging about this. It never will go away, and the mighty Wurlitzer is just getting tuned up.

Then I spotted a story from the right side of the media world that seemed especially piquant. A blogger for the Daily Caller, the conservative web site run by Peter Pan frat boy Tucker Carlson, quit when Tucker spiked a column critical of Fox News. Seems you can criticize everything under the sun but Fox News — Imperial Death Star of right-wing confabulation — at the Daily Caller.

The writer was unhappy that Fox lately has dropped threat-level 7 stories about the scourge of unauthorized immigration and Obama amnesty plans to pad Democratic voter lists. Apparently, Fox is hitting harder at the scourge of all things Muslim and the terrible fact that American troops are no longer dying in sufficient numbers in the Middle East because the last two wars went so well.

This falling-out among fevered founts of Fox fabulism got me thinking. I’d best watch my step, or something similar could upset the equilibrium here the Monterey Bay Partisan.

In my notebook, I found a few ideas I’d been kicking around for columns that I realize might run afoul of what could be called the Partisan party line. Rest assured they will never see the light of day, or I, too, would have to take the high road and resign in a righteous huff from this comfortable and prestigious sinecure. I will share a few, but this is strictly between me and you. Totally off the record, very hush-hush.

1. Sure Cal Am hasn’t produced a major water project for the Peninsula to save the Carmel River for almost 40 years and the multinational utility takes profits out of the community and passes on all sorts of questionable costs to customers who spend a good part of each day getting thorns and needles out of their hides from their prickly xeriscape gardens, but the water company isn’t all bad. I saw a crew fixing a water line one day, and the guy with the jack hammer smiled, or looked like he was trying to smile as his face jiggled like Jello …

2. We can agree that the undeveloped land at Fort Ord is pretty unsurpassed in coastal country beauty, but just a teensy bit could be tastefully destroyed to make room for the charming, little Monterey Downs horsolopolis. Think of all the jobs. You remember, Hercules got his start mucking out stables. And if there were horses, there would be ponies. So there will be pony rides for all the children, and we must think of the children …

3. OK, the Ferrini Ranch subdivision will dump hundreds of more vehicles each day on Highway 68, making the stop-and-go commute between Salinas and Monterey a lot more stoppy than goey. But there are a lot of good audio books that can be very instructive when you spend more than two hours a day listening to them in frozen traffic. And some folks, who must take Highway 68 to get to the two or three jobs they juggle to make ends meet, may decide to eat and sleep in their cars during peak congestion. This could ease the horrible shortage of affordable housing in Monterey County. Moreover, the slower traffic pace will allow travelers more time to enjoy the rustic beauty of the old red-and-white fence near Laguna Seca …

Seriously, these jottings, I promise, will never see the light of day at this blog.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the upcoming Cheney issue of Playboy. I’m interested in whether the Playboy editors have ever found a Playboy Party Joke that is funny. Like this one:

Trimalchio: I attended an orgy last night with the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Encolpius: Ooh, sounds nasty. Was it fun?

Trimalchio: For a while, but then Mike Huckabee arrived.

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Election letters that should be read

One of the most interesting parts of many publications, this one included, is the letters. Here, for your edification and enjoyment, are three particularly interesting responses to the Partisan’s most recent post on Tuesday’s election. Take a peek.

And, by the way, if you haven’t seen Jim Toy’s blog, you should check it out as well, and not just because of his running list of Herald bloopers. Just click on his name.

  • Helga Fellay November 3, 2014, 8:48 am

You have pretty much said it all, and very well, too, about the Sheriff’s race, but just within the last week I became aware of another thing, or maybe two: 1. The DSA endorsement which Bernal uses as his strongest bragging right, is not what he makes it out to be; and 2. A disturbing connection between Monterey Downs, the giant horse racing plus casino development planned for the former Fort Ord, and the DSA (deputy sheriff’s association).

At a DSA meeting where 12 of 17 present voted to place the vote of no-confidence on the ballot. This is the meeting where Gesicki was present but Sheriff Miller was not invited. According to Scott Davis, the union has 316 members, of whom about 250 registered to vote. The final tally was 119 of 184 total votes in favor of a no-confidence resolution. But it was a corrupted vote. President Scott Davis himself counted the votes. There was no neutral person present to oversee the vote counting. Remember that the DSA and its president, Scott Davis, received $25,000 from Bernal relative Margaret Duflok, and the DSA received another $9,000 from Monterey Downs, LLC.(Schedule A, California Form 460, Contributions received, page 4 of 8, ID Number 1334267). Scott Davis, President of DSA, is now in a TV commercial touting Bernal. So how impartial and how reliable can that vote count really have been! It’s all smoke and mirrors. And they allowed Bernal to write a memo to the deputies before the endorsement (which made all those illegal promises to the jail deputies). They didn’t give the same privilege to Sheriff Miller.

We have always known that the Republican Party and Big Ag thought they could use a clueless deputy without any personal ambition to buy this election. But we also know that the DSA endorsement, Bernal’s biggest bragging tool, was bought with a $25,000 donation from Bernal’s family and another $9,000 donation from Monterey Downs, LLC. At least those are the only two we know about.

  • Ann Hill November 3, 2014, 10:50 am

    For the 55% of the 2nd district voters who are planning to vote for John Phillips for supervisor, you are voting for the judge made nationally notorious by a Charles Osgood poem on CBS radio, which made fun of Phillips’ decision awarding a thief damages against Costco. The thief had stolen items from Costco, and then tried to get away. He was stopped in his attempt to flee by Costco security officers, but he fought with them and lost. He was injured in the struggle to get away, and he sued Costco for his medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering. Judge Phillips saw merit in the thief’s claim and made Costco pay up. I remember at the time that many voters were calling for the judge’s ouster, because he appeared to have no common sense. Funny that this case was not brought up during the campaign for supervisor. Did the editorial board at the Herald know about it? Probably not. It is also not likely that any one of them spent any time in his courtroom, or they too would have seen the behavior described by David Brown – the temper tantrums, yelling at attorneys and throwing of files. And they might have understood why this judge was known as “King John” by some attorneys. So, get ready for a bumpy ride – judges wield absolute power in their courtrooms. They do not need to build consensus. Absolute power corrupts absolutely – and it is often abused. That abuse of power, as much as the poor treatment of women, was what I had previously written about for the Partisan. It is not a good character trait for a county supervisor. If this concerns you, vote for Mitchell instead.

  • Bill Carrothers November 3, 2014, 1:36 pm

    Royal, you seem to lack some rather elementary powers of observation. I am amazed that you cannot see Bill Freeman for what he is: a useful idiot being played by the open-borders sociopaths who use him to promote their growthio-sociopathic agendas. Second, what limited powers of observation and intellect prevent you from seeing Jan Shriner as anything other than what she is: a toxic agenda monster hell-bent on preventing any successful and practical solutions for the Peninsula’s water issues? There is simply no such thing as a useful conversation with this witch! As for the latest Ferrini Ranch debacle, there is a new word to describe the planning commission members and Board of Supervisors who voted for this additional mile of construction on the highway to hell: GROWCIOPATHS.

  • James Toy November 2, 2014, 8:37 pm

    Thank you for endorsing Felix Bachofner for Seaside. I’ve known Felix for about 24 years, and he’s as incorruptible as they come. My favorite reason for voting for him is that Felix understands land use issues better than anyone I know, and he’s seeking high quality commercial development of existing commercial areas, the type that will draw customers from the entire Peninsula, not just fast-food consumers from Seaside.

    Here’s a little more I wrote on Seaside’s election: http://mrtoysmentalnotes.blogspot.com/2014/10/ralph-rubios-momentum.html

    By the way, I struggled with Felix’s last name when I first met him, too. To help me remember, I made up a little saying: “I sometimes listen to Offenbach, but I tend to listen to Bachofner.” :-)

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????Although they’re about water, newly available documents concerning the proposed Monterey Downs racetrack and residential/commercial compound make for some fairly dry reading. The only chuckle-inducing part comes early on when project manager Beth Palmer attempts to create a new category of water.

The Marina Coast Water District concluded that there is not “sufficient existing water supply to achieve the complete build-out…” of the huge Fort Ord project. Palmer, however, doesn’t like that conclusion. She writes, “We believe that conclusion is not completely accurate.” And why’s that? Existing doesn’t mean existing. It means existing plus “anticipated future water supplies.” It’s reminiscent of that great Bill Clinton line: “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”

To Palmer, existing could mean water from the Cal Am desalination plant that remains little more than a gleam in a utility accountant’s eye. Or a desalination plant to be built by the Marina Coast Water District, which shows little interest in such a thing. Or recycled wastewater. Or excess surface water from the Salinas River. It might surprise the farmers of the Salinas Valley to hear that there is much of an excess.

Could it be that when Palmer refers to existing water, she’s thinking of water that exists somewhere but not around here?

Palmer’s thoughts are contained in a supplemental water report  2K.14.02.21.MD.LLC.WSA.with.city.seal for the project, a report prepared for the developer and submitted to the city of Seaside for possible inclusion in the project’s environmental impact report. A draft EIR is scheduled for release in September but it won’t be as comprehensive as anticipated. Rather than serving as a self-contained, all-inclusive environmental impact report, it will be what is known as a “subsequent EIR,” meaning that it incorporates many elements from the earlier EIR prepared for the Fort Ord reuse plan. Less thorough. Less expensive. Fewer elements for legal challenge.

The supplemental water assessment is the Monterey Downs developer’s attempt to argue that the project won’t need as much water as previously believed and that it will have access to more “existing” water than previously calculated. The report was submitted to the city in March but didn’t become publicly available until this month, the result of a public records act request by the Keep Fort Ord Wild group. It doesn’t do much of a job supporting the desired numbers but does make some interesting arguments. Such as this. It was the project’s water provider, the Marina water district,  that determined that there simply isn’t enough water to complete the project. (That determination was made two years ago, when the district was led by a heavily pro-development majority, which has since been replaced by a more conservation-minded group.) Palmer directs her commentary to the city, however, arguing that the law allows  the Seaside City Council to overrule the water district’s opinion. That could explain why Monterey Downs wants to have some key approvals completed by the end of the year–before a potential change in the council makeup.

The lead agency (Seaside) is not bound to follow the determinations and conclusions …  as ‘the lead agency may make a finding that adequate water supplies exist (or do not exist) to meet the project’s anticipated demand, even if that finding is inconsistent with the conclusions in the public water system’s assessment,'” Palmer writes. In other words, “inconsistent” can be turned into “consistent” through the proper application of campaign contributions.

Michael Salerno, spokesman for Keep Fort Ord Wild, says Palmer’s numbers don’t add up and neither does her reasoning. The water district calculated the project would need 852 acre-feet of water annually. Palmer argues for a total of 712 acre-feet because of various poorly defined conservation measures and other factors. Pair that with more water from every direction and, what do you know, Monterey Downs practically submerges itself.

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