Thursday, December 20, 2001
It''s the big event of the year that will shape the next 20. By the end of December, the Draft General Plan will be available for public consumption, downloadable from the General Plan update Web site (www.co.monterey. ca.us/gpu). The plan will change, so bookmark the site and check back often.
"The general plan lays out the blueprint for how the County will grow and develop over the next 20 years: what is the pattern of development that will take place to accommodate the projected population increase; where are we going to place our priorities in terms of improving public infrastructure and services; how we are going to house our local workforce; and what we will want to protect and preserve as sensitive environmental resources," says County Analyst Lynn Burgess.
The soon-to-be-released document is only a draft, Burgess stresses, and the public will have numerous opportunities between now and the summer of 2002 to give input.
The draft will also be available free on CD at the General Plan office in Salinas, 150 Cayuga St., Suite 9, and the Planning office at Ft. Ord, 2620 1st Avenue, in Marina. County residents can check out reference copies in both offices, and at libraries county-wide.
If you insist on owning your own printed version of the draft General Plan, it will cost you $50. No, the county won''t be making a profit off of the plan--the cost covers the printing of the approximately 400-page document loaded with full-color county maps.
In early 2002, the county will likely host open houses to educated the public about the General Plan and how it differs from the current plan that has shaped Monterey County for the past 20 years.
"Once the draft general plan comes out, we''ll have several months of public review, we will be talking with land use advisory committees around the county, and we''ll be happy to come out and make a presentation about the general plan to any community group that would like us to do that," Burgess says.
Planning Commission public hears will start in the spring, followed by Board of Supervisor public hears in the summer.
For more information, contact Ann Anderson at 755-5353 or andersona@ co.monterey.ca.us.
Reuse, Recycle, Re-refine
Even a simple oil change can be an exercise in preservation--and patriotism. A tri-county campaign to prevent discarded motor oil from polluting Monterey County''s groundwater and coastline, while at the same time recycling it for reuse in cars and trucks, is encouraging consumers to shop at local automotive stores that use and sell re-refined oil.
"Re-refining oil avoids the pollution associated with drilling and transporting crude oil," says Kurt Hunter of the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority (SVSWA), since one of the two re-refineries is located in California.
The SVSWA is offering one free quart of re-refined motor oil to shoppers who buy four with an in-store coupon available at the following locations: The Service Center, 431 East Market St; and Union 76, 1107 South Main St.. Drivers can also receive $5 off an oil change with re-refined motor oil at Lopez Auto Service, 102 West Market St..
Ford, GM, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz have all gone on record to state that their warranties are not affected by the use of American Petroleum Institute certified re-refined oil.
Otters Still Dying Mysteriously
It''s estimated that before men began hunting sea otters, 15,000 to 20,000 of the furry sea creatures called California home. Now, according to the fall phase of a biannual survey, there are only some 2,012 sea otters on the California Coast. The count shows a rise over the spring tally, but Jim Curland, from the Monterey office of the Defenders of Wildlife, says the otter population is fragile, and they''re dying all the time.
Curland says 175 will die this year in a range that now only stretches from just south of San Francisco to Santa Barbara. That will be the third highest fatality rate in the records of the otter survey, which has been done for 19 years.
Otters are no longer trapped for fur, but they are still threatened. Various diseases, degraded habitat and fishing nets claim otter lives. The diseases are a mystery, but one organism has been traced back to domestic cat turd (which, it is believed, makes it way into the marine ecosystem via flushable kitty litter.) Otter numbers are declining, and, Curland says, "We don''t exactly know why."
Besides its work on sea otters, Defenders of Wildlife has been a longtime advocate for the reintroduction of wolves in the intermountain West. Curland says otters are a lot like wolves in that they are a "keystone species." Their ability to thrive is a measure of their environment''s quality. Sick otters mean sick sea.
"What does that mean for humans? We eat the same things otters eat," Curland says. To learn more, look at www.saveseaotters.org.
--Jessica Lyons, Andrew Scutro