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Thursday, September 6, 2007

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Water Shortage Could Affect North Monterey County Developments


LandWatch Membership Alert

Your Financial Support Is Needed

August 14, 2007

Dear Friends:

I’m writing to ask for your financial support for our continuing effort to secure a responsible Monterey County General Plan.

Stalemated by the June election, the Board of Supervisors must undertake a fifth draft of the General Plan Update (GPU5). They pledged to “forge compromise” by adopting a new General Plan which reaches the middle-ground between the Community General Plan Initiative and the Supervisors’ GPU4.

The final outcome remains unclear. However, recent events clearly demonstrate some of the changes GPU5 must include in order for the plan to represent significant compromise.

Last week the Supervisors received the results of a groundwater study for the Highway 68 area. Commissioned by the county a year ago, the study concluded that a subdivision moratorium enacted in 1992 should be expanded to restrict development in the entire Toro Planning Area. The study found that area aquifers are over-drafted and cannot support further subdivision. Additionally, the study concluded that all aquifers within the planning area are connected. In other words, new pumping would affect the entire area’s water supply.

Despite historic water problems in the Toro Planning Area, GPU4 included two Rural Centers in the Highway 68 Corridor – Toro Park Estates and Corral de Tierra/San Benancio. Both these Rural Centers allowed new subdivision. GPU4 justified these Rural Centers by simply assuming the 1992 subdivision moratorium had allowed the area’s aquifers to recover. In fact, the groundwater study reveals the opposite is true. Area aquifers have not recovered and further subdivision in the Toro Planning Area is not appropriate.

Highway 68 is not the only area in the unincorporated county suffering from severe water shortages and/or a significant degradation of water quality and safety. Previous groundwater studies in Carmel Valley, the Salinas Valley and North Monterey County reached the same conclusions as the Toro groundwater study – aquifers are over-drafted and interconnected. However, despite the vulnerability of a safe and reliable water supply, Carmel Valley, Prunedale and the River Road Corridor were targeted for growth in GPU4.

At a minimum, compromise demands that GPU5 eliminate the Rural Centers in the Highway 68 corridor, Prunedale and River Road. GPU5 should also eliminate the Special Treatment Area at the mouth of Carmel Valley. If the areas for growth in GPU5 remain much the same as GPU4, the public will be justifiably outraged!

Not only must GPU5 eliminate some of the rural communities targeted for growth, GPU5 also must clarify how much subdivision can occur outside the boundaries of Community Areas, Rural Centers and Special Treatment Areas. If GPU5 continues to allow subdivision anywhere and everywhere, as GPU4 did, the new plan will not represent a meaningful compromise.

LandWatch Monterey County will continue to follow this process every step of the way. We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that the final product is the best plan possible. Whether that effort involves further public pressure, litigation, additional referenda, or all of the above, our success will depend on the active support of our members. Please make a generous financial contribution toward that effort today! To make an on line donation using your credit card or PayPal account simply click here: http://www.landwatch.org/donate.

Sincerely,

Chris Fitz, Executive Director
LandWatch Monterey County

p.s.: Your tax-deductible contribution to LandWatch will help protect our quality of life by promoting responsible growth in Monterey County, not unbridled suburban sprawl.

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