Public misled about the scope of residential development in the Del Monte Forest

Which is it, Mr. Stilwell? Are the 90 new estate lots currently being advertised, the last lots the Company will develop in the Del Monte Forest, or aren’t they?

The Overview

The public has been told over and over that the “final” Del Monte Forest Build-out allows the creation of 90 to 100 new single-family residential lots.Equipment (To view examples of media coverage, click here.) But now, as bulldozers clear vast swaths of forest to make way for spacious half acre and one acre lots and  the PB Co. is running ads saying “These 90 estate lots are the last ones that Pebble Beach Company will develop in Pebble Beach”, comes a surprise. In reality more homes may be allowed in a previously unmentioned 13 acre tract of native Monterey pine forest called “Area D.”

Little was officially said or written about Area D until September of 2013 when the community was suddenly shocked by its proposal as the site for an apartment complex to satisfy the Inclusionary Housing component of the Del Monte Forest build-out. (File #PLN100138 in planning speak.) Responding to objections raised by the community about the suitability of the site, PBC, executive, Mark Stilwell is now saying  that if the affordable housing project is denied, the company may propose a market-rate development on the same site in the future. (See Monterey County Weekly, January 9, 2014)

Which is it, Mr. Stilwell? Are the 90 new estate lots currently being advertised, the last lots the Company will develop in the Del Monte Forest, or aren’t they?

How did we get here?

In June of 2012 unbeknownst to all but a handful of County planners, Supervisors, and Pebble Beach Company executives, maps were filed with the County which pave the way for the future subdivision of this native Monterey pine forest land adjoining the Huckleberry Hill Natural Area into a theoretical maximum of 50 residential lots. (The actual number of lots may be closer to 25 -36 due to the physical characteristics of the site, but you get the idea.)

In any case, this boosts the total new housing units potentially allowed in the “final” Del Monte Forest build-out to anywhere from 124 to 150, up to fifty percent more than reported in the media. This is a material misstatement by any standard. One that should be of concern not only to environmentalists, and residents of the Del Monte Forest but to the entire Monterey Peninsula community.

Why have we not heard of this before? Because, fine print aside, Area D was omitted from executive summaries, development overview maps, oral presentations, the EIR (see our CEQA article)  and media coverage of the Del Monte Forest “final” build-out.

The pervasiveness of these omissions, in our opinion, implies a pattern of concealment. We wonder how many residents, environmental groups, Coastal Commission members, news organizations and other “stakeholders” were fooled by this material understatement of the scope of development.

We believe County planners, Supervisors and the Pebble Beach Company are seeking to advance career and financial goals at the expense of surrounding neighbors, native Monterey pine forest, and other valuable environmental resources. Based on what we have seen so far, we can only conclude that more behind-the-scenes arrangements are yet to emerge. They apparently did not want the public to know of development plans in Area D until it was too late. But we have found out, and it is not too late.

For further information and links to supporting evidence, please see our in-depth article.Equipment-3