MONTEREY — LandWatch Monterey County and Keep Fort Ord Wild both filed lawsuits in Monterey Superior Court Monday against the City of Seaside and Monterey Downs LLC.
The two separate suits both seek a writ of mandate directing the City of Seaside to set aside its approval of the Monterey Downs development project. The Seaside City Council approved the plan on Nov. 10. It includes residential neighborhoods to be built on about 500 acres of former Fort Ord property alongside a horse park, sports arena, hotels and more.
However, developer Brian Boudreau recently told the city he would not indemnify it against potential litigation and the council is to vote again on Thursday, possibly cancelling its earlier approval.
Both lawsuits question the project’s environmental impact report and the review process. The project would require the removal of many acres of oak trees and build over recreational trails that many locals have come to love.
“The EIR inadequately investigated, quantified and mitigated the project-related impacts of removing more than 39,000 oak trees and the cumulative impacts of removing more than 49,000 oak, and did not respond adequately to comments on those issues,” states the complaint from Keep Fort Ord Wild.
“The flaws and inadequacies of the environmental review use an incomplete and inadequate discussion of environmental setting, an inadequate and incomplete project description, an inaccurate baseline, and an inadequate and incomplete investigation, discussion or analysis of potentially adverse impact to, of, and/or on water supply and availability, water sources, water demand, water recharge, hydrogeology, hydrology, water quality, water contamination, water quality, seawater intrusion, water rights, appropriative rights, pumping, recharge, soil contamination, soils and geology, baselines, views, aesthetics, rural characteristics, endangered or protected species, biological resources, wildlife linkages, parking, development on slopes, erosion, traffic, traffic metrics and methodology, transportation, circulation, infrastructure, access, public utilities, wastewater, sewage, grading public services, air quality, greenhouse gases, global warming, noise, oak trees, habitats, vegetation types, ecosystems, land use, conservation easements, setbacks, open space and cultural resources.”
And that was just a part of the concerns laid out in the complaint. The Landwatch suit listed similar concerns with the EIR and the process, among them that the project has been changed and the public is probably confused as to what it really entails.
“An adequate project description must be stable and accurate in order to support public participation and informed decision making,” it states.
Thursday, the Seaside City Council will consider “all action necessary to effectuate the recission of the project approvals and to further remand the matter to the Planning Commission for possible project revisions and further consideration.”
Michael DeLapa, executive director of LandWatch Monterey County, said his organization was filing the suit because the City of Seaside did not identify the EIR among the items its was considering rescinding.
“We filed because the city apparently isn’t going to rescind the certification of the EIR,” he said. “So we felt it was necessary.”
The Monterey Downs project is the basically the last item on a fairly deep City Council agenda that includes a presentation on economic development and infrastructure financing and the awarding of a West Broadway construction project worth $778,000. According to the city staff report, Boudreau told the city he did not want to proceed with the project as it is currently approved and declined to enter into an indemnification agreement, as required.