Thursday, September 25, 2003
Ocean View Plaza: Back to the Drawing Board. Again.
A court ruling released Monday, Sept. 22, derailed a large development project for Cannery Row.
Local environmentalists were confident and satisfied with Superior Court Judge Robert O'Farrell's finding that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Ocean View Plaza project was not complete.
"It sends the environmental document back to the drawing board. There is no valid approval after this," says attorney Michael Stamp, who argued the case for two local groups. "A portion of it has to be re-written and in this case that portion is at the center of it."
O'Farrel determined that the EIR was insuffucient because it did not include an alternative for a smaller-scale project.
Stamp says that the developers took a "gamble" by not providing a complete EIR, and made the lack of alternatives his main argument. "It's a major environmental victory and I think it's a victory for democracy," he says.
Ocean View Plaza was approved in a three-to-two vote by the Monterey City Council last October, after it had been denied by the planning commission earlier in the year.
The project debuted in 1995 as Cannery Row Marketplace, and has been scaled back and re-arranged a number of times.
As it now stands, the plan combines retail, parking garages and condominiums all designed to resemble the old cannery structures. The project also includes a private desalination plant.
Barbara Bass Evans, who led opposition to the project and pushed a failed ballot measure against coastal development, was clearly pleased with the decision. "They thought they'd wear us all out, but they didn't," she said.
Anthony Lombardo, attorney for the developers, did not respond to a request for an interview by press time.
The city planning department has not decided yet whether to appeal the decision, ask for a new trial or prepare a supplemental EIR. [AS]
Citizenship or Bust by Bus
Although his family roots in the United States were set in the 19th century, Gaspare Aliotti, 57, of Monterey will spend the next two weeks on a transcontinental bus ride so newer immigrants will have the same chances as his great-grandfather, Matteo Napoli.
A sous-chef at Monterey's Golden Tee Restaurant, Aliotti set out for DC on the morning of Sept. 23 in a nationwide campaign called the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride. Using the model of civil rights workers who traveled the South by bus in the early 1960s, the new effort is part of a campaign to secure citizenship rights for America's immigrant workers.
A member of Local 483 of the Hotel and Employee and Restaurant Employees (HERE), Aliotti will be joined by two officials from HERE and two other HERE members, both housekeepers at local hotels. The local membership of HERE is dominated by foreign-born newcomers who work in the hotels and restaurants.
Aliotti and the others will join 100 riders from Northern California who will be joined by riders coming from all corners of the country, eventually converging on the capital on Oct. 2.
During World War II, Aliotti's Sicilian-born relatives were made to relocate because Italy was one of the Axis powers (with Nazi Germany and Japan). Although they were not sent to internment camps as Japanese-Americans were, Aliotti's relatives were forced off the coast where they made a living fishing.
"It's pretty dehumanizing," he says.
Although for different reasons, non-citizens still have trouble staying here. Aliotti has seen two co-workers get handcuffed and taken away by the INS. "We never heard from them again," he says. [AS]
Cool Trash Found on Beaches
"You are never selfish with your help." This statement was taken from a fortune cookie found among the 8,385 pounds of trash picked up at the 19th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, which took place last Saturday. In addition, 1,880 pounds of recyclables were also collected from the 1,100 miles of beaches, rivers, and lakes of California.
"We try to reach as far inland as possible on Coastal Cleanup Day in order to stop trash where it starts, which is primarily in our urban areas where trash runs off into storm drains and eventually out to the ocean," says Eben Schwartz, statewide outreach coordinator for the California Coastal Commission.
"When you walk along our city streets much of the trash you see lying in the gutter is actually marine debris waiting to happen. All those cigarette butts and plastic wrappers that get casually tossed on the ground may one day wind up being accidentally eaten by a marine mammal, bird, or fish."
More than 1,500 volunteers from Monterey County helped out in the statewide event. Some rather unusual items turned up at the county's 26 cleanup sites, including a dead cow and an entire stainless steel countertop. Sources say the countertop was in good condition. The cow was not.
California Coastal Cleanup Day was part of International Coastal Cleanup Day, which involved volunteers from more than 100 countries. Data collected from the event is now being used to support clean ocean legislation, such as the MARPOL Protocol, which bans the dumping of garbage at sea. [NP]