Thursday, July 14, 2011
Hundreds of supporters cheered in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers on July 12 after the board approved a controversial development that had long languished in the planning process. It was by a narrow 3-2 margin that the Board voted to move forward with the scaled-back Corral de Tierra Shopping Village.
But Supervisor Dave Potter wasn’t on the team. Before voting against the project, Potter said, “I would support something more around half the size.”
It was one of two unpopular votes Potter cast that night. He also supported a county business park, Whispering Oaks, including a new Monterey-Salinas Transit headquarters on the former Fort Ord – a vote that a growing group of activists hopes to turn into a major issue when Potter’s up for re-election in June 2012.
Even though Potter opposed the Corral project, some slow-growth constituents say he didn’t do enough to secure a third vote against it, and see him as an increasingly unreliable swing vote when it comes to development.
Opponents of Whispering Oaks, including Supervisor Jane Parker and Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado, have launched a signature-gathering campaign to get a referendum on the June ballot that would give voters a chance to overturn the board’s approval.
Fort Ord Recreation Users founder Bill Weigle says having the referendum on the ballot along with Potter’s name “will speak volumes.”
Potter maintains he’s an environmental ally: “I think I’ve been a very, very staunch protector. I don’t see having compromised those values.”
But an annual scorecard prepared by the Sierra Club shows a spotty track record for Potter’s performance on the Coastal Commission, where he served for 12 years. That ranking peaked at 64 percent in 1999 and dropped to as low as 13 percent in 2007. His successor, Santa Cruz County Supervisor Mark Stone, scored 100 percent and 71 percent in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
“I’ve seen [Potter] be a true friend to the environment,” says Rita Dalessio, outgoing chair of the Sierra Club’s Ventana chapter, “but it’s been a few years.”