Thursday, September 24, 1998
Carmel Mayor Ken White wants to know why the $65,000 Caltrans model of the proposed Hatton Canyon Freeway is available for private parties, while his repeated requests to host the model on a city-wide basis are ignored by the state transportation department.
Last Friday evening, the Carmel Pine Cone hosted what they plugged as "a private opportunity for Pine Cone advertisers to view the Hatton Canyon model," at an event in downtown Carmel. (Squid''s invitation must have been lost in the mail.) The next afternoon, the elusive model showed up again at a barbecue meeting of the Carmel Woods Neighborhood Association.
Meanwhile, Hizzoner-by-the-Sea can''t even get Caltrans to answer his letters. Two years ago, White says, he asked Caltrans to build a model of the planned freeway, to show the public what they were dealing with. This spring, Caltrans officials brought the model to Carmel''s Carpenter Hall for one evening, and displayed it for a second evening at the Carmel Crossroads Shopping Center, before whisking it off to Sacramento for a series of "hearings."
In June, White wrote to Caltrans, asking them to send the model back to Carmel City Hall, where it would be displayed "for several weeks" in a public place. "We haven''t heard a thing," he complains. "Public money went to build it, and it should be on public display."
What special pull do the Pine Cone and Carmel Woods Neighborhood Association have that the city doesn''t? Could it have something to do with Carmel''s well-known opposition to the project, and their recent successful lawsuit against Caltrans?...Naaah.
Go Ask Alex
Meanwhile, back on Highway 1, certain ugly and seemingly paranoid rumors have been circulating even as the traffic during peak weekends and rush hour comes to a halt. A recent late-night conversation with a local cabbie named Alex, and a letter from a visitor to our fair shores published recently in the San Jose Mercury News, have raised the specter of a nefarious scheme on the part of Caltrans operatives to manipulate the timing of the traffic lights along Highway 1 --ostensibly to increase traffic jams in order to instigate more public support for the Hatton Canyon Freeway.
Caltrans associate electrical engineer Julie Gonzalez, who oversees the traffic signals along Highway 1, insists there''s no secret plot afoot, just a matter of too many cars and too little time.
Gonzalez says all the traffic lights operate by actuated detectors in the roadway, which only allow so many cars to move within the traffic lights'' programmed time limits. Gonzalez says the north-south traffic lights at Ocean Avenue and Carpenter Street are set at a 60-second maximum, with the east-west lights at those intersections set for 34 seconds maximum. At Carmel Valley Road, the lights have been set at 51 seconds for the northbound turn, and 38 seconds for the left onto CV Road. So there.
Nevertheless, Squid plans to dig deeper into this story. After all, only fools and madmen dare question the wisdom of cabbies and Caltrans. Right Alex?
Speak No Evil
Marina citizens were a bit baffled last week when they showed up, but weren''t allowed to speak at what had been billed as a public hearing on initial plans for the development of Armstrong Ranch.
With only an hour of the meeting scheduled for the presentation and feedback from city commissioners, the clock ticked away. And, to speed the evening along, Mayor Jim Vocelka sacrificed the public comment portion of the meeting. A big oops.
Good thing Vocelka''s not running for re-election, because the public might just want to send him packing.
Where There''s Smoke...
Lastly, Squid''s sources say that cigar sales have plummeted in at least one local smoke shop since the release of the Starr report. Coincidence? Maybe. Nevertheless, Squid sources say that the president''s cigar fiasco isn''t cause for impeachment, unless he''s importing Cuban booty.