Will Marina's growth be green?
by Steve Zmak
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It is the City of Marina's plan to build out to a population of approximately 37,000 residents by the year 2020. According to the Census Bureau, this fastest growing city on the Monterey Bay had an estimated population of 19,000 in 2003.
This growth will be accomplished through three projects on the former Fort Ord, two projects on the City's northern border, and by revitalizing its original downtown. Also of note is the East Garrison project outside the City's borders to the east and the CSU Monterey Bay campus straddling both Marina and Seaside.
The bulldozers are in motion. How much influence can the growing green building movement within the community have on these projects as Marina becomes the second largest city in Monterey County?
Marina Station on the city's northern border is the next major development project to enter the planning stages. The comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report closed in May, and the Club's comments followed the lead of Marina City Councilmember Ken Gray, who suggested including a 175-acre park/preserve as part of the project replacing 99 residential units. The 320-acre project, which includes 1,360 residential units, along with retail, commercial and light industrial components, will be built in eight phases.
Gray's proposal would replace the last phase, consisting of 50 acres along Highway 1 together with an additional 125 acres of open space further to the north. The suggested regional park would offer both active recreation facilities and passive recreation trails in the dune habitat to mitigate for the significant environmental impacts.
The proposed preserve is home to 51 acres of federally-endangered Monterey spineflower with 33 acres of coastal dune scrub, 21 acres of native grasslands, and two acres of wet meadows. The project site is part of a continuous dune habitat that stretches from the mouth of the Pajaro River to the Monterey Peninsula and is home to two federally-endangered species: Smith's blue butterfly and the California tiger salamander.
The Club also objects to the loss of scenic views from Highway 1, the dramatic decrease in land originally zoned for open space and parks, and the lack of overall planning afforded to protect the sensitive and endangered habitat and species.
The City of Marina can choose to grow irresponsibly in the face of global warming or incorporate green building policies and practices into its expansion. Which will it be?
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