“Given the forested nature of most of the undeveloped Del Monte Forest area … avoiding development that further fragments and circumscribes such forest habitats is key to their vitality and protection.” Del Monte Forest LUP p. 10
Proponents claim the forested tract on SFB Morse Drive is an environmentally sound choice because it is outside the “sensitive Coastal Zone.” However, this is more of a legal fiction than a substantive environmental difference. In fact, the site lies just outside Coastal Zone boundary. It is directly across the street from the sensitive Huckleberry Hill preservation area, with which it shares the same forested nature and for which it provides an important buffer. (See map below:)
Simply because of being on the wrong side an arbitrary boundary, the site’s native Monterey Pine and Coast Live Oak forest is not afforded the superior environmental protections of the Del Monte Forest Land Use Plan (LUP), which states:
“the native Monterey pine forest …is one of only five such native pine forest occurrences in the world. It is also the most extensive of these worldwide.” (p. 10)
“Given the forested nature of most of the undeveloped Del Monte Forest area, as well as the built environment – residential and otherwise – that exists within certain such areas, avoiding development that further fragments and circumscribes such forest habitats is key to their vitality and protection.” (p. 10)
“this LUP strikes a balance that recognizes that concentrating development in and near existing developed Forest nodes (e. g., in former quarry areas and in areas framed by golf course and residential development, etc.) pursuant to the Concept Plan allows for large resource areas, including those that are contiguous to other large protected resource areas (e .g., Pescadero Canyon and Huckleberry Hill Natural Habitat Area, etc.), to be protected and managed as contiguous habitat areas in perpetuity.” (p. 7) (Italics added.)
Further, though Area D is not subject to the environment constraints of the LUP, it is protected by the Greater Monterey Peninsula Area Plan which states at GMP 3.5 that “Removal of healthy, native oak, Monterey pine, and redwood trees in the Greater Monterey Peninsula Planning Area shall be discouraged.”
As noted by Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Kampe in his letter of November 21, 2013 to the Pebble Beach Company “Many of our citizens believe that Area D would have been eliminated as an option for the project if it had appropriately been included in the previous EIR.” One can never know whether this is so. However, locating high-density, high occupancy, housing within a forest of specially protected trees, across the street from other sensitive habitat, which through a legal fiction happens to enjoy Coastal Zone protected status, makes little sense from an environmental perspective.