By Peter Mathews
When something doesn’t make sense, it usually means you don’t have all the information. That is certainly the case with the inclusionary housing arrangement between the County Board of Supervisors and the Pebble Beach Company. The PB Co. originally wanted to pay an in-lieu fee of $5 million rather than build rental apartments in the Del Monte Forest.
Then an agreement was made for the County to hold the $5 million in escrow until the apartments were built “somewhere” on the Monterey Peninsula, with an additional $2 million penalty to be imposed if no inclusionary housing was built within 5 years of the agreement. The County would then have $7 million to build inclusionary housing wherever they deemed appropriate. So far, the agreement makes sense.
But then at the June 19, 2012 Supervisor’s meeting when the Del Monte Forest build-out plan was approved, Supervisor Dave Potter unexpectedly launched into a monologue/history lesson about when he was on the Monterey City Council in 1991. He brought up a mysterious “MOU” (Memorandum of Understanding) between the City of Monterey and the Company that had been “put in escrow and there it sat” (Potter’s words). He said the MOU pertained to the “Old Capitol” site, 135 acres of undeveloped land across the freeway from the Del Monte Shopping Center. Potter then alluded to recent conversations about it between himself and Mark Stilwell, VP Real Estate for the PB Co. And then things got very murky.
A condition (143) was then swiftly added at the last minute (almost literally) of the meeting that if the PB Co. successfully completed the inclusionary housing in 5 years, it would be required to dedicate the 135 acre “Old Capitol” site to the County. This makes no sense as an incentive. To watch video of the meeting, click here. (the MOU is mentioned at :13 minutes.)
At the Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC) meeting Oct. 3, 2013, I asked Mark Stilwell point-blank: “Is the fair market value of the Old Capitol site more or less than $2 million dollars?” He refused to answer. I asked the question again. A stony silence and hostile glare was the response.
So, what is missing here? It takes a bit of digging, but we discovered that Condition 143 of the Supervisor’s resolution states that transfer of the Old Capitol site would be “applied or credited as mitigation if needed for any affordable housing or other project identified by the Applicant.” (For a link to the resolution on the Supervisor’s site, click here.)
Clearly, the value of 135 acres of prime land in Monterey is quite a bit more than the $2 million penalty that would be imposed if the PB Co. fails to complete the Inclusionary Housing in 5 years. In return for the dedication the PB Co appears to be getting unspecified future development rights. But what I really want to know is what “other projects” does the PB Co. have in store for us? How many more acres of forest will be scraped bare in pursuit of money? How much further will our quality of life in what’s left of the forest be degraded? Only Dave Potter and Mark Stilwell can answer those questions, and they’re not talking. (For a run-down of multiple allegations and investigations of potential improprieties involving Supervisor Potter, please see Monterey County Herald, October 13, 2012 article.)