Pacific Grove Officials Willfully Blind to Obvious Environmental Impacts

Pacific Grove, like many other California cities, has a long track record of systematically avoiding compliance with a well-accepted environmental process law called CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act).

In spite of Pacific Grove losing some 40 percent of its forest canopy since 1986, our officil water supply emergency since 1998 and enduring daily rush hour gridlock on the two public streets leading into and out of town, the City continues to approve development yet has not prepared a legally required EIR (Environmental Impact Analysis) for any project (let alone any forest loss) in more than a decade.

This is a note to two Pacific Grove officials after a meeting wasted trying to get them to understand why they are required by law to recognize and analyze the irreversible harm to our native Monterey Pine Forest.


Jim Becklenberg, Deputy City Manager
David Laredo, City Attorney
City of Pacific Grove

January 18, 2011

Hello Jim and David,

I came to last Tuesday’s meeting to help you save our City credibility, money (in attorney’s fees), and most importantly our treasured trees and rapidly dwindling forest – all of which our City has none to spare.

I had wrongly assumed you both intended to meet with
HOPE in good faith to help our town.

I found nothing but dismissive resistance. It was as though you were talking to me from a Bunker made of a tortured interpretation of the law and facts.

David (Laredo), it was outrageous to hear your thoughtless dismissal of the city’s permitting of logging hundreds of trees every year as having no CEQA environmental impacts – either cumulatively or because of piece-mealing of dozens of projects.

So – Logging Hundreds of imperiled native Monterey pine trees every year has no environmental impacts !?!

See– “Is Native Monterey Pine Forest Imperiled and Protected ?” (Answers: Yes, it is scientifically imperiled, and no, it is not yet legally protected, but CEQA requires you to analyze harm to it or its ecosystem.)
and Forest Protection Laws (California and Federal)
and California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

This was just as wrong and thoughtless as your bewildering insistence that for traffic impacts “Level of Service ‘F’ is Not the same as Gridlock.”

To see how Cal-Trans contradicts your flat out wrong opinion see —

Cal-Trans Definitions and Acronyms (…”F” representing gridlock.”)

or Transportation-Related and Other Acronyms in Common Usage – on Cal-Trans website (“F=gridlock”)

The alarming problem with city staff getting poor, misleading, or plain flat out wrong legal advice

is that —

1) city officials rarely get a second opinion until after a suit has been filed, and

2) it forces the public to fight the city to protect public interests that the city itself should be protecting.

Many notice how a “Contract City Attorney” makes even more money when they are wrong. (The incentive is backwards – it rewards litigation.)

Here it costs the city exactly what we hoped to save –
the City’s credibility, money (in attorney’s fees), and most importantly our treasured and rapidly dwindling forest.

Jim (Becklenberg), I was further stunned to have you admit that you have no intent of protecting the replacement tree (for the one destroyed by the city on Pico Avenue) from being run over or turned into a parking lot.

Worse, that you have no intent of even replacing
the City tree on Pico Ave that you want to destroy.

You Can’t Force-Feed a Forest

You somehow imagine it is acceptable to plant a
replacement tree somewhere else – even though it
will reduce what little remaining native Monterey pine
forest habitat our city has left – and allow the current
habitat that is enjoyed by a woodpecker family – to be
used as parking.

If that was your intent all along – why didn’t you inform
the Natural Resources Committee when we Appealed it?

You both should reflect on why the PG Planning Department is now for the first time in decades genuinely trying to comply with CEQA – yet you two insist that the Public Works Department avoid CEQA by using any tortured rationale and fiction possible.

I am concerned that this long time Pacific Grove City culture of avoiding, rejecting and denying CEQA for our forest loss may come to a far less graceful end — than the two of you could have helped achieve with a more thoughtful attitude.

I look forward to you regaining my trust and respect.

-David Dilworth, for the Board of Trustees,
Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment

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