Thursday, August 29, 2002
Local Party Boats Busted Three recreational fishing boats based out of harbors in Monterey County were snared in an undercover investigation which ended this month. The statewide sting targeted a total of 14 so-called "party boats" based in ports from Mendocino to Orange County.
At press time, the three local boats remained unidentified.
The Department of Fish & Game has been preparing charges for filing with the District Attorney''s Office and expected to provide the complaints to the DA by the end of the month. A press release announcing the busts preceded the complaint filings but as of the end of the day Aug. 27, the complaints and thus the identities of the boat captains were not yet public.
Most of the violations stemmed from fishing over limits, catching undersized fish and fishing for rockfish in restricted areas. According to information from the state, some crews were found to have killed pelicans and tried to kill sea lions. Some boats were also found to have falsified and simply left blank their logs or simply did not turn the logs over to the authorities. Others used illegal tackle, such as salmon gear with four hooks instead of the legal two.
The investigation was dubbed Operation Near Shore. To gather evidence that cannot be gained at the dock, wardens reportedly went undercover as paying customers on "party boats" to observe and record violations.
The investigation began in January. Fish & Game looked into the party boats based on complaints from boat passengers and through tips from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, a quasi-governmental body that sets fishing regulations on the West Coast.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the operation was prompted by complaints from a group of amateur fishermen who hired a Bodega Bay fishing captain and boat only to witness an array of transgressions. The Bodega Bay captain had been an advisor to various state and federal regulatory bodies. He now faces a felony conspiracy charge.
There are 408 party boats licensed in California. Of the 18 investigated in the sting, 14 boats face complaints. According to Fish & Game information, party boats landed some 5.8 million pounds of fish in 2001, mostly tuna, salmon, mackerel, seabass, bonito and rockfish.
CountyAccepts Mexican IDs
County Supervisors on Aug. 27 unanimously approved a measure that will require the sheriff''s department and county agencies to accept ID cards issued by the Mexican consulate and other foreign governments.
"For all the right reasons we need to do this," said Supervisor Fernando Armenta. "For public and private safety, for public and private economy. I think we need to do this for children and parents in our community."
San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Cruz counties, as well as several California cities and police departments, have passed similar laws.
Several banks also accept the IDs.
The wallet-sized card, issued to Mexican immigrants, is called a matricula consular and looks similar to a state-issued driver''s license. It can be used as legal photo identification, and its primary users are undocumented.
The card does not change one''s current immigration status.
"It will lead to enhanced safety and security for all, not just the immigrant community," Blanca Zarazúa told the board, adding that it will improve the relationship between local government and immigrant communities.
Validating the card will also save the sheriff department and other law enforcement agencies money, as it would reduce processing time of undocumented immigrants who are stopped for minor offenses, such as jaywalking or driving without a license.
"All in all, I think it''s probably a benefit to the community-to the county in general," said Sheriff Gordon Sonné. He also said that at a past meetings of the sheriff and police chiefs from Monterey County''s 12 cities, the chiefs indicated they would not support the card. They later decided not to take a position.
Toro Stays Rural
The Monterey County Planning Commission rejected several plans to build hundreds of houses along River Road at a General Plan hearing last week, including a proposal to build 275 homes on Marks Ranch.
Commissioners repeatedly voted against building high-end subdivisions on farmland in the Toro foothills. Commissioner Martha Diehl explained that developing expensive homes would deplete the County''s coffer for roads, water and other infrastructure needs. Diehl said that money should be spent on building affordable housing.
"This doesn''t mean rural subdivisions are bad things, it means the county doesn''t have the resources to support them," Diehl said.
Citing the need for affordable housing and preserving the rural nature of the land, the commission unanimously opposed two contentious requests that would have built nearly 700 homes along River Road. The first was a request by St. John''s College to rezone the 860-acre Marks Ranch, next to Toro Park; the second, by the developers Bollenbacher & Kelton, would subdivide about 890 acres on Highway 68 and Reservation Road.
The commission also rejected a plan by the Bunn, Tarp, Neubert and other families to rezone 875 acres of farmland called Buena Vista Terrace for as many as 375 houses. The land sits atop River Road, between Pine Canyon Road and Parker Canyon Road. While the families say they have no development plans for the land, a May 2001 letter suggests cluster homes, equestrian facilities, a golf course, a wedding chapel and a wine-tasting room among other commercial and recreational uses.
The Planning Commission wrapped up its series of public hearings on Monday, Aug. 26. The following day, county supervisors began their review of the 270 requests from property owners who want their zoning changed in the county''s new 20-year General Plan.
General Plan Smackdown
The Salinas Valley Chamber''s Thursday morning forum could end up being more fun than a Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis rematch: one room, the draft County General Plan, and a dozen local groups-none of which necessarily like each other very much.
The Chamber''s Beverley Meamber promises all will play nice. There will be no heckling, she says: "We don''t want it to turn into a General Plan debate."
At press time, a list of speakers was not available. However, invited groups include Common Ground, the Vintners Association, the Farm Bureau, Land Watch, the Cattlemen''s Association, the Hospitality Association, Salinas Valley Builders Exchange, the Association of Realtors, the Carpenters Union, land use attorneys, a Monterey County spokesperson, the Grower/Shipper Association, River Road Concerned Citizens, CHISPA and the Salinas Airport Business Association.
The forum will be held on Aug. 29, from 7:30-9am, in the Santa Lucia Room of the Salinas Community Center, 940 North Main Street. Coffee will be served.
The forum will also be televised by KMST and aired on Saturday, Aug. 31, 9-11am.