In her letter to the Board of Supervisors in December, Caldwell had stated that it was inappropriate for the County to grant final approval for the Pebble Beach Combined Development Plan application until after the Coastal Commission reviewed Measure A for conformance with the Coastal Act. Measure A, which was opposed by the Sierra Club, passed in November 2000. The intent of Measure A was for the Pebble Beach Company to try to get around some of the environmental restrictions built into the 1984 Local Coastal Program.
To build this enormous
project, Pebble Beach would cut down over 17,000 rare native Monterey
pine trees and protected oak trees. The proposed 18-hole golf course
and driving range at Spanish Bay would adversely impact some of
the last remaining coastal dunes and wetlands in California. These
areas provide habitat for nineteen species of plants considered
to be rare or endangered under CEQA (California Environmental Quality
Act), seven of which are state or federally-listed including Yadon's
piperia which is only found here. Also severely threatened by this
project is the federally-listed California red-legged frog.
At the March 15 public hearing, environmental groups including the Ventana Chapter, California Native Plant Society (CNPS), Ocean Conservancy and others spoke passionately against the project citing the decimation of the forest, plants and wildlife. Corky Matthews of CNPS stressed that the proposal to transplant trees as mitigation is not realistic. Proponents for the project included a few residents of Pebble Beach who liked this plan better than the previous one which proposed building hundreds of luxury homes.
This earlier project which was heatedly opposed by residents and environmentalists, may have been created to make the present proposal seem more reasonable. Coastal Commission staff stated in their March 14 letter to the Board of Supervisors that it was misleading for the public to have been told that up to 900 homes could have been built in the proposed project area, since only about 41 developable lots have been certified by the County.
Under the Coastal Act, the Coastal Commission staff contends, the Local Coastal Plan prohibits subdivision within Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA). There is substantial evidence that the undeveloped project lands are predominately ESHA. Furthermore, recent fieldwork by a Coastal Commission biologist suggests there is even more significant dune and wetlands habitat than has been identified by the County to date.
The Chapter and other groups have appealed this project to the Coastal Commission. At press time no date had been set for the hearing.