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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Ocean View Plaza

Cannery Row project threatens peninsula water supply

Letters needed to Coastal Commission

March 2008

The California Coastal Commission met on March 6 in Carmel Valley to discuss the future of the Ocean View Plaza project slated for development on the waterfront at Cannery Row in Monterey. This massive project, approved in 2004 by the Monterey City Council, proposes a 92,000 square foot mixed-use development that would include 87,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 38 “market-rate” condominiums, 13 inclusionary housing units, 377 parking spaces, and reproductions of historical features.

The Coastal Commission staff report opposes this project on several grounds including the lack of water. In the years since this project was planned and approved, the water crisis on the Monterey peninsula has worsened. The City of Monterey can offer no water entitlements because the State has ordered Cal Am to reduce withdrawals from the Carmel River in a document known as Order 95-10.

In the absence of a Cal Am hook-up, the developer proposes to build a desalination plant to provide water to the project. This scheme has come under harsh criticism from the Coastal Commission as well as the Ventana Chapter, the League of Women voters and other groups and residents.

Desalination plant water is not proven. The plant could fail completely or in part, requiring the project to tap into Carmel River water through a Cal Am hookup. In addition, the Monterey Local Coastal Plan has not been updated since 1980 long before the 1995 Department of Water Resource's court order to Cal Am to stop over pumping the Carmel River. The Coastal Plan clearly is out of date.

If development is allowed to proceed using water from private, for-profit plants, Order 95-10 will not get implemented while the Peninsula keeps growing. Efforts to solve overdrafts from the Carmel River will be diluted. Resources that could be spent solving the water crisis would be spent on private water supplies. When and if the Peninsula ever addresses Order 95-10, the residents could be left holding the bag, responsible for the costs.

At the March 6 hearing the developer requested that the matter be rescheduled for July 9 - 11 in San Luis Obispo. At press time this date was not confirmed.

This massive project would be very detrimental both to the coastal zone and the water supply for the Monterey region. Please write letters opposing this project and in favor of the staff report to California Coastal Commission, 725 Front Street, Suite 300, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Attention: Susan Craig. Susan Craig's email is

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