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Gary Patton's Land Use Reports
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Past Reports

The following Land Use Reports have been presented on KUSP by Gary Patton, Executive Director of The Planning and Conservation League. The opinions expressed by Mr. Patton are not necessarily those of KUSP
Radio, nor of any of its sponsors.

You can contact Gary Patton at PCL by emailing him at: gapatton@pcl.org.

Monday, July 24, 2006 –A Planning Commission Meeting - Tomorrow
Tomorrow, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., the Monterey City Planning Commission will be hearing about code enforcement efforts in the City of Monterey.

You may remember my past comments about a group called the “Code Rangers,” which was trying to improve code enforcement by Monterey County government. Unfortunately, nothing very positive ever happened at the County level. By reputation at least, the City of Monterey does a lot better. Persons interested in code enforcement might do well to attend the City Planning Commission meeting, to see how a good code enforcement program can be put together.

Enforcement, of course, is an absolute prerequisite if a set of land use policies is ever going to be effective in doing what it’s supposed to do. All too often, there is a great deal of debate about what the rules ought to be, and then, when a rule is finally adopted, the local government never really enforces it. When the word gets around that rules aren’t being enforced, then the rules stop having any value. That’s basically what’s happened in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County. As I say, the City of Monterey has a much better reputation.

To be fair, there are always two sides to the code enforcement question. It is important not only that the rules be enforced, but that they be enforced in a reasonable way, and that landowners and developers not be unfairly treated.

More Information
Monterey City Website - http://www.monterey.org/
July 25th Planning Commission Agenda - http://www.monterey.org/boards/planning/agendas/2006/0725pcagenda.pdf

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 – On The Agenda in San Luis Obispo County
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is meeting today. If you’d like to get a link to the agenda, track down the transcript of today’s Land Use Report on the KUSP website. By the way, compliments are in order to San Luis Obispo County, which now makes agenda materials available to the public, on their website. Santa Cruz County does that, too. Unfortunately, Monterey County does not. If you are a Monterey County resident, and are interested in upgrading your ability to participate in important matters that come before the County, you might want to check out what Santa Cruz County and San Luis Obispo County have done, and then urge your own County Supervisor to get Monterey County to do something similar. The technology to allow more informed citizen participation is obviously available, if the County wants to use it.

Among items to be discussed today in San Luis Obispo County are the County’s oak tree preservation program, the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the San Luis Drainage Feature Reevaluation, and the County Transfer of Credit Program. I’ve talked before about the Transfer of Credit Program. The “transfer of credit” concept can be used to direct growth to the most appropriate locations within the County, or it can be used simply to spur more growth, and in San Luis Obispo County, the program has been criticized as taking the latter approach. You may want to check out the agenda materials on this issue.

More Information
Compare county government efforts to make agenda materials easily available online:

  • Santa Cruz County (June 20, 2006 Agenda) –


  • San Luis Obispo County (July 25, 2006 Agenda) –


  • Monterey County (July 25, 2006 Agenda) –

San Luis Obispo County Oak Tree Preservation Program Agenda Materials –
Final EIS on San Luis Drainage Feature Reevaluation Agenda Materials –
San Luis Obispo County Transfer of Development Credits Program Agenda Materials –
Proposed response to Grand Jury review of Transfer of Development Credits Program –

If you’d like to receive “alerts” about important environmental items on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors’ agenda, contact Gordon Hensley, of Environment in the Public Interest. He can be reached by email at: g.r.hensley@sbcglobal.net.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 – SCRAP and the City
Santa Cruz County land use activists have a rather “scrappy” reputation. The citizens and residents of Santa Cruz County aren’t at all bashful about getting organized, and getting involved in land use and planning issues. This hasn’t always been true, but it’s been true for a good long time. I first got involved in land use issues in Santa Cruz County in the early 1970’s, and such activism was kind of new back then. Operation Wilder and the Save Lighthouse Point Association were among the first groups to demonstrate that our democratic institutions really do work, if we are willing to get involved ourselves.

It’s my personal view that we fulfill ourselves, as human beings, only when we do engage with other people to help create the world as we want it to be. Thus, I think the “scrappy” reputation of Santa Cruz County is an altogether good thing, and that we have a much better, more interesting, and more vibrant community, in every way, because of our obvious willingness to engage personally in the debates, discussions, controversies, and conflicts that help us, ultimately, decide what kind of community we want.

SCRAP, which stands for “Santa Cruzans For Responsible Planning,” is a group of local residents focused on key planning issues in the City of Santa Cruz. Tonight, SCRAP will hear from the City’s new Director of Planning and Community Development. If you’d like to get connected up with SCRAP, you can get more information on the KUSP website.

More Information
Contact Santa Cruzans For Responsible Planning – scrp@pacbell.net
Bruce Bratton, one of the original members of Operation Wilder, which led the fight to save the Santa Cruz County North Coast, commends SCRAP in his February 2, 2005 Column, in “Bratton Online” - http://www.brattononline.com/index.php?p=97

Thursday, July 27, 2006 – Splitting The Ninth Circuit
I attended a workshop about online fundraising last week, and found out that people love online “quizzes.” Put out an online quiz, and quiz-hungry people will simply flock around. Well, that’s what they told me! I’m not trying to sign you up, or sell you anything, but I do have a very short quiz. What is a current issue that many sophisticated land use and environmental activists would put high on their list of things to worry about, that most people have never even heard about?

If you said “splitting the Ninth Circuit,” you win the prize. Actually, I’d be inclined to give a prize to anyone who knows what “splitting the Ninth Circuit” even means. What it means is that there are efforts underway in the United States Congress to change the way that federal court decisions affecting California get made. Currently, federal appeal courts are organized by “circuit.” This goes back to the day when judges rode around a “circuit,” from place to place, to provide judicial access to remote populations. The current Ninth Circuit includes nine western states, and right wingers in Congress think the Ninth Circuit Court is way too “liberal” and they want to gerrymander it! The impacts could be devastating, which is why Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund has made fighting this proposal one of its highest priorities. It’s an interesting and important issue.

More Information
Ninth Circuit Website – http://www.ce9.uscourts.gov/
Earthjustice Website (giving information on how you can oppose the Ninth Circuit split) –
Judges testify on Ninth Circuit split –

Friday, July 28, 2006 – Let The Voters Decide (In Monterey County)
Monterey County is a kind of “ground zero,” right at the moment, for an important debate about the future of the Central Coast. The conflicts and controversies going on in Monterey County are absolutely the same kind of conflicts and controversies that consumed Santa Cruz County some thirty years ago. Santa Cruz County had a very highly-charged debate about land use policy during the mid-1970’s, and what was really at stake was the future of the entire Central Coast. Had Santa Cruz County chosen differently, it would have a population of something like 500,000 people today, instead of a population of about half that. There wouldn’t be any farmland left, and all the traffic, water supply, and housing problems of Santa Cruz County would be many times worse than they currently are. Today, the debate about the future of the Central Coast is centered in Monterey County. I suppose that twenty or thirty years from now, San Luis Obispo County may be at the peaking point.

The decisions to be made in Monterey County will have great individual and community impacts, throughout the whole Central Coast region. The General Plan discussions and debates now underway frame the questions posed: should growth be accommodated everywhere, or should future growth be focused into existing urban areas? Should farmland be developed, or should farmland be saved? As I think about the issues, I keep remembering the phrase, so important in the history of our nation, “Let the Voters Decide!”

For KUSP, this is Gary Patton.