Potter: 'I don't know what they were thinking'

Published on May 28, 2004 in Carmel Pine Cone - Written by Paul Miller

REACTING WITH disbelief after the board of supervisors voted Tuesday to throw out most of the proposed general plan and look for ways to update the existing plan, 5th District Supervisor said he doesn’t “know what the majority of the board was thinking.”

Potter was on the losing end, with Moss Landing supervisor Lou Calcagno, of the 3-2 vote to dump the 700-page General Plan Update, which was prepared over more than four years at a cost of $4.5 million.

“I’m completely mystified,” Potter said. “In an era when we’re trying to save every dollar we can, we’re going to spend more on the general plan? I don’t know how we can say we’re trustworthy stewards of the public’s money.”

Tuesday’s vote came in response to concerns from property owners that the proposed general plan was too restrictive — limiting new subdivisions in South County, for example, to 40-acre minimums.

“But why throw out the whole plan?” Potter asked. “If they don’t want 40-acre minimums in South County, I say fine, take it out. We’d still have a plan I could live with.”

But Edith Johnsen, Butch Lindley and Fernando Armenta didn’t see it that way. They joined forces to ask county staff to find ways to simplify changes to the existing general plan. “We wanted an update and what we got was the Taj Mahal,” Johnsen said.

Their vote came after more public testimony on the plan, with people coming down firmly on opposite sides.

“The best alternative is one that hasn’t even been presented to you, and that is: Adopt the general plan that’s in front of you,” said Gary Patton of LandWatch Monterey County, a group which favors strict zoning laws and is backed with money from the Packard Foundation .
But Tom Carvey of Common Ground, which wants property owners to have more options for their land, called the proposed general plan an “environmental lawyer’s paradise. Anything you wanted to stop with a lawsuit you could stop with a lawsuit.” He said it was “an attempt to control every facet of the economic life of this county.”

Potter said the political divide between the Salinas Valley, where many people want growth to provide jobs and housing, and the Monterey Peninsula, where a significant number of wealthy people likes things just the way they are, had become virtually unbridgeable. “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the ideology of the Salinas Valley; they’re just diametrically opposed,” Potter said. “It argues not necessarily for incorporating Carmel Valley, but maybe for dividing Monterey County into two counties.”


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