Comments as transcribed from the tape recording of the June 14, 2006 Coastal Commission Public Heariing in Santa Rosa
Comments made before the California Coastal Commission on June 14, 2006 by Peter Douglas, Executive Director, California Coastal Commission and Charles Lester, Deputy Director, Central Coast District Office on the withdrawal of Measure A by the Supervisors of Monterey County on June 13, 2006
Commment by Peter Douglas, Executive Director, California Coastal Commission
We were very disappointed by the County's withdrawal of Measure A because we spent literally thousands of hours in preparation of the staff report both working with our biologist and with others who have provided input into the staff recommendations for this matter. Plus the fact it is costly to the Commission and the public for this meeting. For example, we set aside a whole day just for this item and each day of Commission meetings cost the public about $12,000. Had we known the County had intended to do this then we could have changed the arrangements here. So it's kind of frustrating in a sense.
Also there are some issues relative to what might come back, when it might come back, and obviously we're going to have to figure out what to the extent we have an obligation to be involved, to what extent the County could come back with an amendment that includes only those items for which we have indicated, anyway, that there is consistency with the Coastal Act in our view.
There are a number of proposals included in the Measure A submittal that we felt were OK, the expansion of the Inn at Spanish Bay, the expansion of the Lodge, there were some other elements of the plan that we felt could proceed but because it was before us in its entirety and it was the plan not any project we felt we had no choice. We could not redesign that measure for them by suggesting modifications or changes to you at the time. But both Charles (Lester) and I have indicated we do encourage the County to think about coming back with those elements that in fact we think are approvable under the Coastal Act.
Let me ask Charles to make a couple of other observations and comments and I think that will conclude our expression of comments and frustration.
Comment by Charles Lester. Deputy Director, Central Coast District Office.
Good Morning Madam Chair and commissioners
Just a couple of observations that the Commission might find useful in the background of this.
In the letter, if you've seen it, from Monterey County it cites generally confusion on the part of the County and Pebble Beach Company concerning what was in front of the Commission, the need for additional analysis of Measure A and what it means, and also concern about needing more detailed discussion with the Coastal Staff as well as the length of our report as reasons for requesting withdrawal.
In terms of the confusion that may be out there on Measure A, I would first observe to the extent that there is confusion, its in large part a function of the fact that Measure A and the project the Pebble Beach Company has been pursuing over the years have been closely married since the beginning of Measure A and there is a close relationship between these two. So to the extent that there is confusion I think that's probably the source of it. In terms of Measure A it is a project driven amendment and we have always been clear on that. I don't think the Coastal staff has been confused in that and the staff's recommendations went into some length on that and was framed in that way. So, in terms of whether we're confused about what was actually pending before the Commission, I don't think the Commission staff had any particular confusion about that.
With respect to what Measure A means it has been pending for some time and as Mr. Douglas has indicated, was submitted to us as an integrated whole amendment, it was not submitted in parts that could not be pieced out and dealt within that way without giving the fundamental issues that we had identified with it that it was not appropriate to recommend modifications that would be so fundamentally different from what was submitted to the Commission for review.
With respect to the last couple of points in terms of needing additional discussion with staff on the length of the report, we acknowledge that it was a lengthy report. There were a lot of details. Much of that detail was a function of the complexity of Measure A itself. It was an amendment that dealt with over 600 acres of land in Del Monte Forest and 26 distinct areas and different land use changes.
But having said that I would first observe that the Commission staff has been pretty consistent over the last 7 years or so with our concern with land use issues in Del Monte Forest and they pre-date Measure A.
There is a large exhibit of correspondence from the Commission staff to the County in the staff recommendation if you're interested in some of those details. But in particular there is a 1999 letter written in May of 1999 actually related to the lot program which was the precursor to Measure A and the current project which cites issues such as what is the appropriate definition of environmentally sensitive habitat to apply in Del Monte Forest, how should we consider native Monterey pine forest as ESHA or not, the need to consider Monterey pine and whether certain occurrences of native Monterey pine would be ESHA or not under the LCP, the need for specific wetland delineation prior to any action on land use changes or project approval in Del Monte Forest, and finally the issues raised by proposing development within the Sawmill Gulch Conservation easement area.
So although there are a lot of details here, the specific nuances and concerns maybe developed or evolved over the recent years, our fundamental messages have been pretty much the same as 1999.
So these are the observations I thought were important to observe. In just with respect to process I'd like to point out that our own regulations do speak to the commission needing to have some flexibility in terms of scheduling visa a vise the pending LCP and LRDP items that may be in front of us and the Central Coast District does have, as you know, major LRDP items under review and it has a number of LCP amendments also. So I think we'd have to look at whatever might be re-submitted in light of other pending workload in the LCP item.
Comment by Peter Douglas
What Charles is saying is if it comes back tomorrow it will be quite a while before we're going to be in a position to bring it back to you. On the other hand I do encourage the County to think about what I said earlier about those elements that we think are approvable and we would certainly be prepared to assist if the County were inclined to proceed with those in the process of a new submittal to amend the LCP.
The final comment I would make is that it has been frustrating in a number of ways for us because over the years we have made it very clear to the Pebble Beach Company representative what our position is relative to existing lots and the potential of development on these existing lots. We made clear that we do consider the Monterey pine forest ESHA, that there are wetland issues here. Clearly issues that make the development as proposed problematic certainly in compliance with the law and we did write a letter before Measure A was put to a vote of the people explaining our concerns and issues relative to that matter; but, for what ever reason, the company decided to proceed, not withstanding all those expressions of concern. So its not like we didn't provide notice of what these concerns were.
That completes our comments.