January 25, 2005
Meg Caldwell, Chair
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219
RE: Your letter of December 22, 2004, concerning Del Monte Forest LCP amendments contained in Measure A and the Pebble Beach Companys project
Dear Chair Caldwell:
Thank you for your December 22, 2004 letter regarding Measure A and the Pebble Beach Companys Del Monte Forest Preservation and Development Plan. We appreciate your concerns and would like to take this opportunity to respond to them.
The first concern expressed in your letter relates to the timing of submission of Measure A to the Coastal Commission for certification. Your letter states that it is premature for the County to take final action until the Coastal Commission has fully reviewed Measure A for conformance with the Coastal Act. The County agrees that the amendments to the Local Coastal Program (LCP) proposed by Measure A do not become part of the certified Local Coastal Program until they are certified by the Coastal Commission. Accordingly, County staff is recommending the following condition of approval: Prior to the issuance of grading or building permits or the recording of final maps or records of survey, the applicant shall submit evidence that the Coastal Commission has certified the Local Coastal Program changes contained within Measure A, as it was approved by the voters on November 7, 2000. Without this certification, all project approvals will have no force or effect, and the applicant may apply for a permit amendment for County consideration. This condition means that any approval given by the County would become effective only if, and when, the Commission certifies the changes made by County voters. In addition to recommending this condition of approval, staff will recommend that, following consideration of the application, the Board of Supervisors forward the LCP amendments contained within Measure A to the Coastal Commission for certification.
The fact that Measure A is an initiative measure adopted by the voters distinguishes Measure A from other Local Coastal Program (LCP) amendments and dictates a different process. Normally, to adopt an amendment to the LCP, County would first approve a resolution of intent to approve the amendment, then submit the amendment to the Coastal Commission for certification, and finally acknowledge the Commissions certification of the amendment and confirm the previous resolution of intent approving the amendment. Measure A is different because it was an initiative measure adopted by the voters. Under state election law and the terms of Measure A, the County Board of Supervisors must enact Measure A, subject only to certification by the Coastal Commission. Measure A itself states that, except as expressly provided by the terms of Measure A, it may be amended or repealed only by the voters at a County election. (Del Monte Forest Plan: Forest Preservation and Development Limitations [Measure A], Section 11.1.) Although Measure A, by its terms, provides that it must be construed and applied so as not to preempt or conflict with state or federal laws or regulations (Measure A, section 10), the Board does not have broad policy discretion to accept or reject the initiative. Subject to Coastal Commission certification, Measure A has already been determined by the voters to be the governing policy. Because of the unique nature of Measure A as an initiative measure, it is appropriate and consistent with the actions of the electorate for the County to proceed to process a development application consistent with Measure A, provided that the County condition any approval of the development application on Coastal Commission certification of the Local Coastal Program changes contained within Measure A.
Another difference between a typical LCP amendment and Measure A is that Measure A, as an initiative, was not required to undergo environmental review under CEQA. At the time of the initiatives passage, County staff consulted with Coastal Commission staff, and they outlined the data that the Commission would require prior to submission of this initiative for Commission certification. The outline included the type and depth of information standardly produced within an environmental impact report.
At that point, the County decided to utilize the environmental review process of the Pebble Beach Companys development application to provide much of the needed documentation to satisfy the Coastal Commissions request for data. This dovetailing allowed the County to pool scarce County resources, which was acknowledged as a sensible process by Coastal Commission planner Dan Carl in his letter of November 17, 2004. By submitting Measure A to the Coastal Commission after the Board of Supervisors considers certification of the EIR on the Pebble Beach application, County ensures that the Coastal Commission will have the most comprehensive and complete data and analysis of the LCP amendments.
A second concern expressed in your letter is that neither the Countys nor the Commissions review of this new project should precede Coastal Commission action on an amendment to the Spanish Bay CDP [coastal development permit]. The County agrees that any project approval must be conditioned to require the Commissions amendment of its Spanish Bay permit in order to allow the relocation of the Equestrian Center to the Sawmill Borrow site. Similarly, any project approval must be conditioned on Commission concurrence with proposed amendments to the easement held by the Del Monte Forest Foundation over the Upper Sawmill site. Recommended Mitigation Measure LU-A2 specifically calls for the applicant to Amend development conditions and easements on the Sawmill site, and staff will recommend that this mitigation measure must be implemented prior to issuance of grading or building permits or the recording of final maps or records of survey. The Conditions of Approval and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan will specifically require evidence that the easement and Coastal Commission permits have been amended to allow for the proposed use. Without Commission concurrence, the project permit would need to be amended to comply with the easement requirements and the project as originally approved could not proceed.
Third, your letter stated that the legality of the Countys pending action is in question since the standard of review for the County at this time is the existing unmodified LCP. In the environmental impact report (EIR) for the Pebble Beach Companys project, the existing LCP is used as the planning baseline by which to evaluate project consistency with existing land use designations and policies. The EIR finds that portions of the project are not consistent with the land use designations in the existing LCP, but are consistent with the land use designations approved by the voters in Measure A. The EIR identifies these inconsistencies as a significant impact in the absence of Measure A. The EIR states that a condition of approval must insure certification of Measure A prior to project implementation to support an affirmative LUP consistency finding.
The Countys policy review found that the project is consistent with existing LCP policies with implementation of mitigation measures identified in the EIR. Additionally, it should be noted that Measure A LUP amendments changes only 4 of the 145 existing LUP policies. The policy analysis also found project consistency with these 4 policies as changed by Measure A.
In sum, the County is proceeding with its review of the Pebble Beach Companys development application according to a process that has been consistently outlined to the Commission since shortly after Measure As approval. This is a process which is transparent to all observers. The County and Commission are in agreement that the development itself can not proceed without Commission certification of Measure A and modification of the Commissions permits relating to the Sawmill Borrow site. The concerns expressed in your letter of December 22, 2004 suggest that we have a disagreement about what you have described as a waste of resources if the County follows its proposed process. However, we believe that regardless of the sequence, the process will be complex and involve a great expenditure of resources on both of our parts.
Thank you for your comments. The County intends to work cooperatively with the Commission in this process. Please contact the Scott Hennessy, the Director of Planning & Building Inspection, or Senior Planner Thom McCue if you have any additional concerns or comments regarding the Countys process.
W.B. Butch Lindley, Chair
Monterey County Board of Supervisors