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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

Sierra Club
   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | chapter wide


Elkhorn Slough threatened by subdivisions

Purchase gives newly released California condors more protected space

Sierra Club member Karen Kaplan of Scotts Valley plants a tree at the grand opening of Depot Park in Santa Cruz in March. Photo: David Rigler

 

On March 1 the Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved yet another subdivision project in the Elkhorn Slough watershed. The vote was 3-2 with supervisors Potter and Calcagno voting against the project citing water and traffic concerns.

The board had postponed making a decision on this project earlier in the year pending the outcome of a request for reconsideration of the Sunridge Views development which was effectively denied by the Coastal Commission in December by a 5-5 vote. In February the Coastal Commission denied the request for reconsideration, upholding their previous denial of the Sunridge project.

The new project, Rancho Roberto, proposes dividing 13.3 acres into 26 lots. The Planning and Building Department has recommended that six of the homes be "affordable."

Friends, Artists, and Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough (FANS) submitted comments to the EIR regarding lack of long-term sustainable water supply, inadequate runoff detention basins, and other significant adverse biological impacts to the Slough. Many neighbors of Rancho Roberto in the Fruitland Avenue area circulated a petition against approval based on traffic issues.

The property is not irrigated at present, so no net increase in water supply would result from conversion of agricultural land to housing. The aquifer serving the proposed project has been documented as suffering from severe overdraft by the County. Despite this documentation and the two-year moratorium in 2000-02 on subdivisions in north Monterey County due to water quality and quantity, County Water Resource General Manager Curtis Weeks stated that there are over 900,000 acre feet of water stored in the aquifer and "not to worry." If there is no water supply problem, many wondered why residents are being assessed on their property taxes for the Salinas Valley Water Project to alleviate overdraft and why a desalinization plant is being considered for North County.

Two additional subdivisions near Elkhorn Slough are being studied including 180 new houses along the banks of Elkhorn Slough, conversion of an existing golf course to a 27-hole PGA course, and 103 new houses just uphill from the Carneros Creek which feeds more than 70% of Elkhorn Slough's fresh water.

To become involved in this issue contact Margie Kay, MARGIE17K@ aol.com.

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