Surfing in the California desert? Developer’s plan sparks outrage over water use, drought
The developer’s development plan for a project on the water-starved Central Coast has riled environmentalists and environmentalists groups, especially with regard to water supplies for the development and what the plan would mean for the region’s long-term water supply.
The Monterey Bay Area Planning Commission will decide Nov. 14 which of several competing proposals it will endorse, after a nearly three-month review of nearly 20,000 pages of documents and six days of public testimony.
The developers behind the project, including construction-services firms Ocean Builders and Ocean Front Development, have proposed a development of roughly 1,600 homes over four parcels on a site that includes about a mile of beach and a stretch of waterway called the San Lorenzo River.
The project includes at least 10,000 new residential units in a mix of single-family homes, townhouses, luxury-cabins and condominiums over a planned commercial strip and a planned park, along with a large hotel, parking facilities, a marina and a pier.
Proposals for a similar development are under consideration in San Diego County, which includes the planned community, and in Santa Barbara County, which also includes the planned community on the Monterey Peninsula.
In California, water is a major issue in the planning process. While the state is experiencing a dry period, the West is facing a drought — an unprecedented event that has not been seen for decades.
In Santa Barbara County, the planning commission voted last week not to endorse the developer’s plan for a development on the site, saying it was “unacceptable” without addressing concerns about water issues related to a possible resort and hotel on a part of the site. The planning commission also rejected the developer’s plans for a hotel building with a marina.
“This wasn’t what we heard today, or what the public heard today,” said Santa Barbara County Supervisor Bill McAllister, who is challenging county administrator Robert Zorn for reelection.
But the developer counters that the county’s action may have been premature.
“There’s a lot of work to do on the development plan, and we will continue to work on it,” said Joe Stelzner, principal of Ocean Builders and chair of the Monterey Bay Area Planning Commission. “We are taking our time, and we are asking for patience,