Thursday, December 9, 2004
Just Don’t Call It A City
Carmel Valley would generate enough money to support itself, should its residents decide to incorporate the county-governed community into a self-governed “town.”
Presenting a preview of the draft fiscal analysis on Dec. 6, Jennifer Ott, a VP of Berkeley-based Economic & Planning Systems Inc., told the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) that a town of Carmel Valley would generate about $8 million annually.
The fiscal analysis will be released on Dec. 13, and will be available on the LAFCO Web site, www/co.monterey.ca.us/lafco.
The proposed boundary of the new town would look like the 28,000-acre Carmel Valley Master Plan area, running from Highway 1 to east of Carmel Valley Village, and from ridge top to ridge top, north and south.
Incorporation supporters told the commission that they wanted Carmel Valley to be an independent town so that they could govern themselves.
Resident Darby Worth said that the other four supervisors routinely outvote Carmel Valley’s representative on the Board of Supervisors, Dave Potter.
“I support the incorporation because of the very undemocratic way the decisions have been made and been forced on me as a resident of the Valley,” she says. “Developments have been approved when my supervisors did not support the projects.”
However, incorporation opponent Bob Sinotte, president of the Carmel Views Community Association, and others told the board that they do not want to become part of a city.
“Unfortunately, cities have built-in mechanisms for growth,” he said.
The Dec. 6 meeting at which the commission considered the
Carmel Valley incorporation proposal was the first in a series
of public hearings and was labeled “historic” by LAFCO
Executive Officer Kate McKenna. The next public hearing will
be held on Jan. 24. [JL]
First Amendment cited in attorney’s claim for $200,000
First Amendment lawyers have weighed in on a public records case against the City of Monterey heard in Superior Court this week. The case stems from a citizens’ environmental lawsuit over the city-approved but pending Ocean View Plaza project on Cannery Row. The citizens’ group, represented by attorney Michael Stamp, won a case in 2003 showing that the developers had failed to comply with certain elements of the California Environmental Quality Act. (Ocean View Plaza, a multi-use retail and housing project, proceeds now after a new Environmental Impact Report was prepared.)
In the process of that case, Stamp detected billing codes from the Lombardo & Gilles law firm on some city documents. Stamp had been involved in a separate suit against the county ending in 2000 in which county planning documents were found to have been “ghost-written” by the same law firm, and then submitted by county staff as county documents. A plaintiff on that case, retired schoolteacher Pat Bernardi of Carmel Valley, took up this new case against the City of Monterey in June 2003 with a request to examine city records associated with the case.
According to court documents, the requested records were made available 15 months later, after significant court action by Stamp. He has since requested some $200,000 in fees as payment for the work of extracting that information. Superior Court Judge Susan Dauphiné heard arguments on the morning of Dec. 8 (after the Weekly’s press deadline) over whether Stamp is entitled to that money.
Court documents filed in November contain statements from two prominent First Amendment lawyers, Neil Shapiro of Monterey and Karl Olson of San Francisco. Olson, who represents several Bay Area newspapers in First Amendment cases, notes in his statement to the court that Stamp is due fees in order to properly enforce the Public Records Act, which is used to “limit government secrecy.”
Bernardi, who has been involved in several such cases, says the city was hiding information.
“Did we get public records that were public records by asking for them?” she asks. “No we had to go to court to get them.”
Bernardi says city legal staff was working too closely with the development lawyers, and that city governments should remember that they are paid by the public.
“It’s nice when they remember who their clients are,” she says.
Assistant City Attorney Deborah Mall says she did not intentionally destroy any documents, and the work alleged to have been ghostwritten was not.
“We’re being made to look like the bad guys,” she said. [AS]
Military manages to build good affordable housing
“Little Boxes,” the old Malvina Reynolds folk song, could very well apply to typical military housing. But the new and newly remodeled Monterey Bay Military Housing units at the Ord Military Community (OMC) and La Mesa Village (both on the former Fort Ord) will not resemble identical “boxes made of ticky-tacky.” Rather, these low-income houses will quote from the existing architectural styles of the Monterey Peninsula, including the Spanish Mission, Craftsman and Monterey Colonial styles.
Development of the project, born from an alliance between the Army and Navy, as well as the private entity Clark Pinnacle Family Communities, began in November 2003 and includes both new and renovated units. The federal government invested no direct funds in the project, but instead turned the buildings over to Clark Pinnacle, which capitalized the project; the rent paid by military family members residing in the neighborhood will be paid to Clark Pinnacle.
In the next 10 years, the partnership plans to renovate all of the 2,268 military housing units at OMC, the Presidio of Monterey, La Mesa Village and the Naval Postgraduate School. Many have already been remodeled and, since November, military families have been residing in those units.
In addition to the 230 renovated units at Fort Ord, several new buildings have taken the place of demolished buildings at the site. A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday will mark the doors opening to the newly built homes, and Army sergeant Richard Dixon and his family will receive keys as the first family in one of these new units.
The new buildings are energy-efficient and have water-conserving showerheads and low-flow toilets.
In addition to the architectural improvements, the military housing alliance says the project will add to the sense of community in the areas, with recreation centers, ballparks, pools and other amenities. With over 4,000 military residents in the area, the partnership wishes to attract them to this housing development, opening more local rentals to the public. [CJ]