Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county
Del Monte Forest / Pebble Beach
The Pebble Beach Company (PBC) lost its bid to cut down nearly 18,000 trees and fill in some of the last remaining coastal wetlands in the state when their 2000 Measure A and the project came before the California Coastal Commission (CCC) for approval in June in Santa Rosa. The massively destructive plan which included a golf course, driving range, luxury homes and commercial space was resoundingly denied by an 8-4 vote. The hearing last 10 hours and the Chapter was represented by our attorney Tom N. Lippe and Sierra Club California Coastal Program’s Mark Massara as well as many other members. The Coastal Commission staff gave a compelling synopsis of their report of over 200 pages describing the rare and protected habitat that exists in this Monterey pine forest, one of 5 remaining in the world. This ecosystem contains 3 to 4 dozen special species including some which are so rare that they would qualify for ESHA (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area) on their own. The forest contains 2 federally endangered species, Yadon’s piperia and the California red-legged frog and significant occurrences of delineated coastal wetlands, maritime chaparral and coastal dunes.
This project was viewed by a majority of the commissioners as too destructive and illegal under the Coastal Act. Commissioner Sara Wan said, “In my 20 years of attending the Coastal Commission’s meetings, this is the most egregious example of development trying to circumvent the Coastal Act. It amounts to wholesale destruction of the environment and destroys the essence of the Monterey pine forest.”
The 2000 Measure A was opposed by the Chapter at the time. PBC featured Clint Eastwood in TV ads at the time claiming this initiative would “save the forest”. When in 2004, the plan was revealed to include cutting down 18,000 tress, filling in wetlands and wholesale destruction of an already impacted forest, voters felt they were duped and there was a firestorm of protest over the deception. Another troubling aspect of the project was that PBC wanted to exterminate an existing conservation easement that was a condition of approval of Spanish Bay in 1986.
Currently, PBC is meeting periodically with CCC staff to see if they can agree on a project. The Chapter has retained our attorney, Tom N.. Lippe to evaluate any proposals for their compliance with the Coastal Act.
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