by Gillian Taylor
The 891-acre September Ranch (SR) subdivision proposed for traffic-clogged, water-strapped Carmel Valley was recently approved by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors (with Supervisor Dave Potter dissenting). In response, the Ventana Chapter and co-plaintiffs Patricia Bernardi and Save Our Carmel River have sued. We were not surprised with the Board decision, given its history of failure to properly consider the impacts of development, including the impacts of the earlier incarnation of the same project.
Six years ago the Sierra Club successfully sued over an earlier version of the September Ranch development in which the courts (including the Appellate Court) found that the water analysis was faulty. We believe this latest water analysis is slicker, but no better.
Attorney Michael Stamp is representing the Club and co-plaintiffs. In addition to the water issue, the Chapter is challenging the project’s huge and unmitigated impacts on Monterey pines and oaks, among other special species. Over 2600 Monterey pine trees and over 800 coast live oaks would be cut down to build the luxury housing of this project, which is proposed to be sprawled all over the steep slopes of this fragile ecosystem in violation of natural resource policies and common sense.
Not only is water availability a critical issue for Carmel Valley and River species and habitat, but the Carmel River is the main drinking water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. Faced with the overdraft of the River and of the Seaside Aquifer, the County should not be playing fast and loose with water calculations, analysis, and impacts. Throughout the years of studies and hearings, your Chapter volunteers presented materials and analysis laying out how the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and several key Master Plan policies.
We believe this is a critical lawsuit due to the high biological values of the resources under threat and the likely harm that would come to the Carmel River and the public’s water supply. After eight years of work, we are seeking a final NO on the project and its adverse impacts.
How to help
The Chapter needs your help to pay legal fees. Please send checks made out to the Ventana Chapter (not tax-deductible) or to the SC Foundation/ Ventana Chapter (tax deductible), and mail to Joel Weinstein, Treasurer, 140 Carmel Riviera Drive, Carmel, CA 93923.