HOPE - Helping Our Peninsula's Environment

Box 1495, Carmel, Ca 93921 / 831/624-6500

 

Monterey County Planning Commission

Aug 8, 2001

Re: Highway 1 County Sponsored Widening Project & MND

We feel certain you really care about our environment or you wouldn't be in public service. We are writing to ask for your cooperation and avoid negative publicity for your agency and your department.

We are sorry but we must object to the project as proposed, and its associated environmental analysis. We object to the Mitigated Negative Declaration. This project needs an EIR, just as Cal-Trans is preparing for their widening project which will cause identical capacity increases.

If the proposed actions' significant environmental impacts were reasonably analyzed, instead of evaded, the existing conclusions of the environmental review are simply not possible because of the much larger genuine impacts.

"You Can't Pave Your Way Out of Congestion"

-Supervisor David Potter running for office in 1996.

As Supervisor Potter correctly noted, many broad and detailed studies have shown that once an area experiences regular congestion, adding lane-miles does not relieve congestion. The result is simply identical congestion with more traffic, not the same amount of traffic.

Building more lanes to cure congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.

1) There is now overwhelming evidence, including a 15 year, nationwide study of 70 metropolitan areas (Texas Transportation Institute), another California specific study which included Monterey County (Hansen 1995, University of California at Berkeley), that when an area is congested - traffic congestion cannot be relieved by adding additional traffic lanes.

Texas Transportation Institute, 1998. "An Analysis of the Relationship Between Highway Expansion and Congestion in Metropolitan Areas.

Hansen, Mark, 1995. "Do New Highways Generate Traffic?", University of California at Berkeley, Access, #7.

2) Further experience shows that "When road capacity shrinks - So Can Traffic" (e.g. San Francisco's Central Freeway in 1996, New York's West Side Highway 1988) - Auto Free Times Winter 1996-97.

3) The Surface Transportation Policy Project (STTP) released a fall 1999 report "Road Work Ahead: Is Construction Worth the Wait?" The study found that motorists can lose more time in road construction delays than they will save in years of driving on the newly "improved" road.

4) In a case study, the report highlights Trenton' Route 29 project, an $85 million, four lane highway along the Delaware waterfront. The report shows that traffic delays stemming from the project are so long that it will take ten years for drivers to make up the time and actually benefit from the project. (Auto-Free Times Spring 2000, p 16)

5) Finally, this is not a systematic project, it is a tactical project. It will not and does not intend to relieve all other congestion in the area including that on Rio Road. Because this project will increase traffic to nearby areas that are currently experiencing gridlock, it will itself cause significant traffic impact.

According to TAMC the two Intersections from Highway 1 to Carmel Valley, Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road, are both operating at LOS "F" as of 1998.

Cal-Trans standard for a significant impact when an existing intersection is at LOS "F" is the addition of a single vehicle trip. Any activity creating at least one new vehicle trip during rush hour is causing a significant impact:

"It is the Department's position that the addition of even one peak hour trip in a LOS 'F' environment represents a significant impact." (Cal-Trans letter dated Nov 18, 1997 to the Monterey County Planning Dept on the September Ranch project.)

LOS stands for "Level of Service" where the scale ranges from 'A' to 'F' 'A' means free-flowing, 'F' means gridlock - measured as a minimum trip delay of 60 seconds.

"Peak hour trip" means during rush hour (8 - 9:30 am and 4:00 - 5:30 pm)

Monterey County Public Works standard is: "If the Intersection is already operating at LOS F, any increase (one vehicle) in the critical movements volume to capacity ratio is considered significant." "For Intersections already operating at unacceptable levels D or E, a significant impact would occur if a project adds 0.01 or more to the critical movements volume to capacity ratio."

 

THE PROBLEM DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS THE GROWTH INDUCING IMPACTS ANALYSIS.

"The principal problem is a lack of capacity..." MND p 1.

"The proposed widening project ... cannot be expected to provide additional capacity for Highway 1." MND p 45

One cannot have it both ways. The project either does increase capacity and thus inherently has growth inducing impacts - or it does not increase capacity and does not meet the project purpose thus being a waste of public funds and staff time.

IDENTICAL CAPACITY !

Lew Bauman of Monterey County Public Works admitted "The Cal-Trans Highway One Widening Project will increase capacity by exactly the same amount as this project." to the Carmel Valley Land Use Advisory Committee on July 16, 2001. Cal-Trans is doing an EIR explicitly because of the growth inducing impacts caused by their widening. This project is pretending there are no cumulative and growth inducing impacts!

GROWTH INDUCING IMPACTS

"Highways Create Demand for Travel and Expansion by Their Very Existence."

In January 1997 US Federal District Court, Judge Suzanne B. Conlon for the Northern District of Illinois, Opinion wrote:

"Highways create demand for travel and expansion by their very existence. Swain v. Brinegar, 517 F.2d 766, 777 (7th Cir.1975); Def. 12 (M) Par. 86. However the final impact statement in this case relies on the implausible assumption that the same level of transportation needs will exist whether or not the toll road is constructed." "[FHWA's] decision in this regard was arbitrary and capricious. 5 USC Sec 706(2)(a)."

This federal court opinion further reinforces the consensus of expert and legal opinion that expanded road capacity generates changes in travel and land activities that must be accounted for in project and plan appraisals. As one of the panelists at a Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting session on the induced travel effects of highway capacity changes observed last week, to general agreement from all other panelists, including Kevin Heanue, Director of Environment and Planning at FHWA, "There is no longer a question that these dynamics occur. The only question is how large are the effects in a particular case."

It should be obvious that since a lack of roads constrains growth, any increase in roads allows growth.

"Environmental Impact Statements on highways and sewage treatment plants seldom evaluate the resulting impact on urban growth patterns. These secondary effects may, however, be more damaging than the primary effects. The second form of shortsightedness is the tendency to consider only changes in the physical environment and to ignore changes in the social environment. Yet impacts on pollution patterns or community behavioral patterns may affect the quality of the human environment much more than impacts on air or solid waste." -U.S. EPA, letter to the President's Council of Environmental Quality 21 December, 1971

PIECEMEALING

Analysis of this project's potentially significant environmental impact must be combined with the (12?) other related projects including one involving Handley Drive for which we just received a NOP. Please prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for all associated projects.

BIOTA FLAWS

Monarchs do not overwinter "Primarily in eucalyptus." As any Pacific Grove schoolchild can tell you - Monarchs historical residence here is in Monterey Pine Forests. The MND failed to recognize that the loss of 33 or 25 or 44 Monterey Pines are potential Monarch habitat. Please fix and recirculate. Please fix and prepare an Environmental Impact Report.

Monterey Pines will be replaced at "up to 10:1". Zero replacement would be consistent with that statement. Please fix to read "Monterey Pines will be avoided because they are Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area."

Secondly, Monterey Pines will be replaced at "up to 10:1" states the pines will be grown within Hwy 1 right of way between Ribera Road and Carmel River bridge. That is not Monterey Pine Forest habitat. That location is subject to powerful flooding virtually guaranteeing the loss of such

planted trees. Choose another location and disclose it and recirculate this document.

Coastal Zone.

The west side of Highway 1 is in the coastal zone. Since the Monterey Pine is designated as 1-B by the California Native Plants Society you must treat those pines as Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA). The MND did not. Please fix this.

Denise Duffy & Associates

This consultant's conclusions have a poor track record of not even meeting the legal minimum. Courts have rejected EIRs written by this Consultant on the Carmel Valley's September Ranch.

One additional place I would look to find their errors here is the reference for the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana aurora draytonii) which they claim is reported on in a book about birds!

MEANINGFUL ADVANCE NOTICE

Please put us on your list of "Interested Parties" so we get all notices related in any way to the proposed project and this property (if for no other reason than we ask under authority of CEQA Sections: 21092.(b)(3) and 21092.2) of -

* Hearings, Meetings, Study sessions, and

* all Document availability including -

* EIS, D-EIS, EA, FONSI,

* EIR, D-EIR, Initial Study, Negative Declaration,

* any 1601 or 1603 (Lake and Streambed Alteration) Permit Application,

* any Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit Application,

* any Winter Grading Permit Application,

* any Incidental Take Application,

* any Biological Report submitted,

* any Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area survey submitted,

Please send us a copy of each staff report for this item as soon as they become available.

If you do not adopt the issues raised in this letter, please send us a copy of the approval as soon as it is signed.

Please also send us the Notice of Determination, Decision or Exemption as soon as it is filed. If it is not filed within 5 days of the signed decision, please notify us of that.

Please let us know immediately if you feel we have not yet exhausted our Administrative remedies.

If this is the case please let us know what actions you feel are necessary for us to have standing and to have exhausted our Administrative remedies prior to your final decision.

Please acknowledge receipt of this letter within 5 days.

We look forward to your substantive, written response to the issues raised here within 10 days. It would be surprising if we have not made any inadvertent errars;-) So if any of this is in the slightest way unclear please contact us ASAP by phone, email or mail.

With all due Respect,

-David Dilworth, Acting Secretary and Trustee 831/624-6500