RESPONSE TO PEBBLE BEACH COMPANY DEIR
JANICE M. O'BRIEN RESPONSE TO PEBBLE BEACH COMPANY DEIR
TED HUNTER RESPONSE TO PEBBLE BEACH COMPANY DEIR
Forest Lake and Lopez Roads
Pebble Beach, CA 93953
Mr. Thom McCue
Re: Draft Environmental Impact Report, Pebble Beach Project
Dear Mr. McCue:
In the time allotted this committee to review subject report, inevitably our review is incomplete and, perhaps, in some respects superficial, considering the length and depth of the report. The report was received on Thursday, February 5,2004, and considered at our meeting on March 11,2004.
The authors of the report are commended for their thorough and definitive treatment of the multiple land use areas addressed. The breadth and scope of issues are extensive and complex. The report is generally clear and precise. The Executive Summary and Project Summary are particularly helpful. Our difficulty with the report lies with its organization and dispersed treatment of specific projects. Individual projects are not set forth as independent packages or subject areas but as specific topics whose implications or impact must be appraised by reference to multiple areas in the report. For example, in the case of the new golf course, the reader is obliged to examine areas elsewhere in the report to assess that undertaking, e.g., land use, traffic, wetlands, the pine forest, etc. Hindsight suggests that the report list each application sequentially in all its implications, rather than requiring the reader to examine descriptions of its impact placed elsewhere in the report. Commendably, however, the report does summarize the impact of the project in various tables, particularly, Table ES and Table 2.0-4. Further, at its beginning, the report addresses, however briefly, contentious issues in its "Areas of Known Controversy."
There is no index to the report and there is no listed identification of the various areas affected by the EIR. Figure ES-2 does show most of the areas but their exact locutions are not clear. It would have been helpful if the area locations were identified with road parameters or some other recognizable description.
Is this Project the Final Build-Out? The Committee still asks whether this project represents the "final" build-out of the Pebble Beach Company. Although the County back on September 12,2002, in a letter to this Committee stated that the project cc...proposes final build-out of Company's lands in the Del Monte Forest.", to our knowledge the Company has never formally made such a declaration. Concern in this respect lies in Measure A, itself, sponsored by the Company, which states in its preamble "[The purpose of Measure A is] ... to encourage future visitor serving development adjacent to existing visitor-serving or recreational facilities..."
The preamble then requires "future development" to be consistent with the California Coastal Act and subject to environmental review. Back in 1992, when the Pebble Beach Lot Program was reviewed, the same question was asked. The answer obviously influences decision-making affecting the current project. The applicant reported at the March 11 meeting that it has formally agreed with the DMF Property Owners that this project constitutes a final build-out.
Application of the Coastal Act. Brief reference appears in the report (Volume 11, Appendix, Chapter 3.1, page C-1) to the California Coastal Act (Public Resources Code, Sections 30,000 et seq.) acknowledging the need for the project's compliance. Reference appears elsewhere to Measure A, the public initiative in general support of the project. Although the Committee cannot and does not expect a legal treatise of the application of the Coastal Act and Measure A and the consistency or lack of it between them, some declaration of compliance and consistency might be helpful to dispel doubt and uncertainty respecting the project. Another helpful item for the reader would be a copy of Measure A attached as a part of the Appendix.
Specific Issues. These specific issues merit the concern of the Committee:
1. Forest Reduction. The EIR concludes that mitigation measures will reduce forest reduction to a "less than significantn level. The numbers in support of this conclusion are confusing. The project provides:
a. direct removal of 99 acres of undeveloped forest;
Table 2.0-4 breaks this down in numbers of tree removal, roughly, 9,500 pines and 500 coastal oaks from the golf course and 1,900 pines and 485 oaks from the equestrian center, and significantly lesser numbers from other project areas. These numbers are intimidating; thus the EIR's assessment of the project's cumulative impact is questioned. Totals here are 150 acres of impacted forest. In mitigation, the EIR states that 458 acres of forest will be preserved and the forest in situ will be retained. This is laudable, of course. But should not mitigation be measured on what happens to existing conditions, rather than on conditions that exist had the project not been undertaken? The existing local plan authorizes 800 plus residential units and expanded commercial and recreational facilities. What counts is the impact of the project on existing conditions, i.e., the existing forest, not what could have occurred with some other option. Although the proposed project is substantially reduced in comparison with what the project could have been, is not the determination of impact measured on the reduced project as an independent and separate undertaking?
The ultimate questions, here, are: 1) By how many acres (and trees) will the Monterey Pine forest be reduced from existing conditions by reason of this project? 2) What conditions mitigate this reduction to a less-than-significant level?
2, SFB Morse Gate. This gate was originally constructed to accommodate visitor traffic to Spanish Bay and to provide a shorter access to Del Monte Forest on northbound Highway 68, bypassing passage through Del Monte Park in Pacific Grove. What restrictions, if any, will be applied to commercial use of this gate, subject to reasonable accommodation of the new equestrian center?
3. Highway 1 and 68 Intersections. Proposed changes help alleviate traffic problems here but require "positioning" of cars in appropriate lanes prior to reaching the intersection from southbound Highway 1 and southbound Highway 68. This is understandable, perhaps as the only practical solution, but it does little to minimize drivers' confusion at this complex configuration. Further, improvement in egress from the Beverly Manor professional area and the Community Hospital apparently is dependent upon state funding. This means inaction for years to come.
Specifically, cars traveling east on Hwy 68 approaching the PB and Hwy 1 intersection will attempt to follow the right lanes into PB. Would a barrier at the light help this situation? Cars leaving PB to Carmel on Hwy 1 will continue to merge with cars from Hwy 68 headed in same direction. All traffic entering the PB Hwy 1 gate faces a tight turn while making lane changes to accommodate visitor versus resident lanes. Admittedly, this is a difficult area, and no easy solution exists.
4. Traffic. Increased commercial traffic is inevitable with the expansion of the Lodge and the Spanish Bay Inn and another golf course. Special events at the Equestrian Center generate heavy traffic in trucks and trailers, thus traffic will concentrate on the Sawmill site area inside the Morse Gate. This is helpful. Whether replacement of the existing center with a golf course reduces traffic in this critical area close to the Lodge is questionable.
5. Bristol Curve Area. Plans apparently are still evolving in this area. The presence of Yadon's piperia plant makes any road changes difficult. If, indeed, the plant is present throughout the "triangle" encompassed by Bristol Curve, Stevenson and Forest Lake Roads, should not the Stevenson connection with Forest Lake remain or be constructed in close proximity to its present location? Dividing or splitting this sensitive parcel seems unnecessary if a modified intersection at or close to Stevenson and Forest Lake can accommodate golf course traffic. Assurances from the applicant at the meeting on March 11, 2004, suggest this concern can be satisfactorily resolved.
6. Water Quality. This issue also remains a concern. Assurances are given that water quality will be achieved through certain efforts, but those assurances appear marginal. See Chapter 3.4-27 et seq., and Chapter 3.4-30 et s.eq. The Best Management Plan (BMP) at Charter 3.4-9 et seq. provides remedial actions to achieve elimination of waste, salt, nitrogen, etc., through runoff, reclamation, and mixing, inter alia. Whether these efforts will improve water quality to an acceptable level is questioned.
Attached for your review are individual comments from Mrs. Janice O'Brien, a member of the Committee. Your consideration of Mrs. O'Brien's comments and the comments expressed in this letter is appreciated.
Paul De Lay,
cc: Scott Hennessy, Director, Planning & Bidg.
enclosure: Comments from Mrs. Janice O'Brien, Member
February 19, 2004
Dear Thom :
I wish to submit the following comments on the draft EIR for the PBC Development Plan.
The EIR is quite explicit that this plan as it stands will have significant impact on the native Monterey Pine Forest (NMPF) and its habitat. It then attempts to mitigate the unmitigable with a series of management plans to be monitored over a period of twenty years. This approach has been an utter failure in the past, as witness Sawmill Gulch and Spanish Bay which is still not in compliance, and is less likely to succeed now when the Planning Department is facing a major reduction in staff. In addition, the EIR does not address the inconsistency of this plan with the policies in the operative LCP. This is required under the Coastal Act.
The EIR is based on the assumption that measure A will be certified, but a review of the past three years' correspondence between the County and the Coastal Commission staff does not support this assumption. The cumulative devastation of the NMPF is expressly forbidden in the recent recommendation for updating regulations submitted by the Coastal Commission staff in December of last year.
Justification for the removal of water and traffic constraints under Measure A is not supported by findings in the EIR. Water : The water demand for the project is estimated at a potential 286.8 afy. This water is to be supplied from the company's "entitlement water" of approximately 360 afy. The justification for this amount was the presumption of a commensurate savings of potable water due to water reclaimed for the golf courses in Pebble Beach. However, this savings has not been realized and cannot be assured without major improvements to the Reclamation Project process and storage capability. In order to fund these improvements, the Company has proposed selling another 150afy to new demand. If this occurs, the 150afy must be added to the 286.8 to arrive at an estimate of 436.8 afy, 76.8 over the Company's entitlement. Since all of this water will be coming from the Carmel River, it will exacerbate the continuing overdraft of the River and its adverse consequences and must be deemed a significant impact on the water resource. Traffic : The road system within the Forest is rural in nature and not conducive to major enlargement. The "improvements" on Hwy. 68 will be of minimal help in coping with the added traffic resulting from the increase in commercial buildout within the Forest. The new lights on Hwy. 68 will merely orchestrate the traffic jam. No mention is made of the traffic increase which will be generated by the future buildout of Community Hospital.
Any discussion of the project's impact on the residential community cannot be confined merely to a construction time frame. The emphasis on expanded commercialism will alter the residential character of the Forest. The systematic degradation of the forest environment will not only diminish the quality of life but could have a negative impact on residential property values as well.
This project will destroy approximately 17,000 trees. It will impact 150 acres, 1.06 of the remaining known developed NMPF.- The overall effect of cumulative development on NMPF on a regional basis could result in a loss of 1600 acres or 12% of the extant forest in the Monterey region. Reference is made to other forested areas outside the Forest under Company ownership. It is not clear if the preservation of these areas is being suggested as mitigation for the destruction of forested areas within the Del Monte Forest as a quid pro quo. And no mention is made of making it a requirement.
There is no discussion of the potential climatic impact from the major loss of tree cover, not only in the DMF but on the Peninsula as a whole. The forest canopy protects the Peninsula from the violent coastal winds. It is also the basis of our clement weather patterns which we all enjoy.
Finally, the Del Monte Forest comprises one fifth of the Monterey Peninsula and is its environmental signature. It is not only a community resource of inestimable value, but a national treasure. The popularity of Pebble Beach as a resort is largely dependent on the forest ambiance. The E I R must evaluate these public interests against the financial expectations of the Company.
Janice M. O'Brien
P.O. Box 1189
Pebble Beach, CA 93953
Ph. 831-624-3734 Fax 831-620-1525