After a half decade, massive Monterey Downs development cancelled.

Monterey Downs is officially dead. Thanks to everyone for their support over the years to help stop this project!

Click Below For Local News Coverage:

http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/blogs/news_blog/breaking-after-a-half-decade-massive-monterey-downs-development-cancelled/article_c8328c2a-b77c-11e6-b289-236f30a71312.html

http://www.montereyherald.com/article/NF/20161130/NEWS/161139967

http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/blogs/news_blog/seaside-city-council-rescinds-monterey-downs-approvals/article_2db29b90-b85d-11e6-bf33-1ffb70b9731f.html

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Alert: Seaside City Council to Consider Rescission of Monterey Downs Approvals.

Please attend the December 1st Seaside City Council Meeting.  See the links below:

http://seasideca.boardsync.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=495&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0

http://seasideca.boardsync.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ar=1943

Agenda item #10 on the Seaside City Council’s Dec. 1 Agenda asks the Council to consider rescission of the general plan amendments, specific plan, and zoning ordinance for Monterey Downs because:

The Project Applicant, Monterey Downs, LLC, informed the City on November 22, 2016, that they do not wish to proceed with the project as currently approved, and declined at this time to enter into an indemnification agreement as required by the approvals for the General Plan Amendment, Specific Plan, and Zone Text and Map Amendments. Therefore, the City Council will consider rescission of the approvals, direction to staff to effectuate that rescission, and remand the Project to the Planning Commission for consideration of further Project Revisions that Project Applicant may wish to propose.

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This is Your Chance to STOP MONTEREY DOWNS Once and For All

Alert:  Keep Fort Ord Wild Is Partnering With Land Watch on a citizens referendum. This is Your Chance to STOP MONTEREY DOWNS Once and For All

Click the link below for more info and to volunteer!

http://us13.campaign-archive1.com/?u=465a506ca37317fd1756c49c6&id=507339c3b0&e=eec132a7b6

 

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URGENT: MONTEREY DOWNS FINAL APPROVAL Thursday 10/13 — Please Attend

The time has come. We knew it would.  After six years of fighting this project, the FINAL CITY COUNCIL APPROVAL of Monterey Downs is expected 10/13

The City Council is holding a special meeting this Thursday night 10/13, to review AND APPROVE the flawed Monterey Downs Environmental impact report in addition to important general plan and zoning changes that would allow the project to proceed.

WHERE: 986 Hilby Avenue Seaside CA

WHEN:   Thursday, October 13, 2016

To view the Agenda and Agenda Packet go to:   http://seasideca.boardsync.com/Web/UserControls/DocPreview.aspx?p=1&aoid=787

We need EACH AND EVERYONE of you to show up and protest Seaside’s attempt to fast-track approval of the Monterey Downs project.

Note: The City’s strategy is to adopt the project but NOT approve the race track. They may also attempt to change the name of the project at the last minute to confuse the public.  We cannot trust them.  They may revive the race track later. They may ask the County to do the race track.  And, with such a significant project change, the public and the city should have more time to consider the impacts of the change. Finally, the race track is not the only objectionable element:

– This project will cause urban sprawl which is costly for public services and results in loss of City revenue.

– According to the project EIR 40,000 oaks will be removed for Monterey Downs

– This project will destroy a popular recreation area that currently costs the City nothing and provides great benefits to locals and tourists alike.

– Developers should be directed to land that is nearer to transportation and city services.

– The land has not yet been cleared as safe for residential development by the US EPA.

– The project is mostly in the County and there is no agreement with the County.

– The project requires water that is not currently available.

Please attend and make your voice heard! Your help is needed.

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URGENT: MONTEREY DOWNS SHOWDOWN THIS WEDNESDAY 9/7 — Please Attend

The time has come. We knew it would.  After six years of fighting this project, the first approval is expected WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

The City Planning Commission is holding a special meeting this Wednesday night, to review AND APPROVE thousands of pages of environmental review documents and recommend approval of the project to the Council.  A project of this size, and with such importance to the residents, should not be approved the same night the materials are presented.  There should be several hearings to ensure all questions are asked, answered, and decision makers have time to be thoughtful.

WHERE: 440 Harcourt Ave, Seaside, City Hall Chambers

WHEN:   Wednesday, September 7th, 6 p.m.

To view the Agenda and Agenda Packet go to http://www.ci.seaside.ca.us/129/Agendas-Minutes.

We need EACH AND EVERYONE of you to show up and protest Seaside’s attempt to fast-track approval of the Monterey Downs project.

Also, if ANY of you know the Planning Commissioners, now would be the time to call them and tell them you really don’t see how they can get through this process in one night, more time is needed.  The Planning Commissioners are:

  • John Owens (Chair)
  • Michael Lechman (Vice Chair)
  • Keith Dodson
  • Margaret Leighton
  • Paul Mugan
  • Denise Ross
  • Arlington LaMica
  • Michael Spalletta

One final note: We have been informed that the City’s strategy is to adopt the project but NOT approve the race track.  We cannot trust them.  They may revive the race track later. They may ask the County to do the race track.  And, with such a significant project change, the public and the city should have more time to consider the impacts of the change. Finally, the race track is not the only objectionable element:

– This project will cause urban sprawl which is costly for public services and results in loss of City revenue.

– According to the project EIR 40,000 oaks will be removed for Monterey Downs

– This project will destroy a popular recreation area that currently costs the City nothing and provides great benefits to locals and tourists alike.

– Developers should be directed to land that is nearer to transportation and city services.

– The land has not yet been cleared as safe for residential development by the US EPA.

– The project is mostly in the County and there is no agreement with the County.

– The project requires water that is not currently available.

Please attend and make your voice heard! In October, the City Council will meet, and we will need to rally again.  The next few months are critical.  Your help is needed.

 

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Action Alert: Monterey Downs Starting Approval Process in City Of Seaside

Despite unprecedented environmental impacts, no water, and no land deal with the County of Monterey, The City of Seaside is moving forward with the approval process for Monterey Downs. Stay tuned to this website and the Keep Fort Ord Wild Facebook Page for news and alerts and info on the final approvals from the Seaside Planning Commission and City Council.  Over the coming weeks we’ll let you know how to get involved to help stop this farcical public land grab. In the meantime let your friends know that Seaside politicians are still moving this project forward despite massive public pressure against the project.

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Monterey Downs Mirrors Epic Failure of Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan

Monterey Downs is using a similar template to Pinnacle Race Course.

 

Think Monterey Downs and horse racing will bring economic prosperity to Fort Ord and the Monterey Peninsula? Does this story sound familiar? Are you listening Monterey County? Are you listening Seaside?

Pinnacle Race Course was a failed attempt to start a new thoroughbred horse racing track in Huron Township, Michigan. The track was built on land owned by Wayne County, and the county lost $36 million when it failed.

The track was described by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano as an experiment in cutting red tape. Ficano said, “I see this as an experiment to see if we can deliver speed, speed, speed…” Ficano was convinced by Republic Bancorp founder Jerry Campbell that a track would be viable in Wayne County, and would generate 2,300 permanent jobs. Based on this Wayne County sold the developer 320 acres of land for $1, and spent $26 million building roads, and installing sewer and water to the site.

Banker Jerry Campbell led an investment group that spent $35 million to open what was intended to be a $142 million thoroughbred track on 320 acres at Pennsylvania and Vining roads, a mile southwest of Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Pinnacle, modeled after Churchill Downs, lasted three years and was only partially complete before it succumbed to both the recession and the decline in horse racing interest. Today, the track is abandoned and overgrown.


Important links below:

Article from 2008 when the track opened. Promises, promises, promises…jobs, jobs, jobs:  http://blog.mlive.com/chronicle/2008/07/and_its_off.html

 http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20150510/NEWS/305109978/as-wagers-fall-horse-owners-tracks-seek-help-from-state

Horse tracks closing and revenue in freefall: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20150510/NEWS/305109980

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2011/08/why_did_wayne_county_think_pin.html

ooops…property goes to auction with upaid property tax bill: http://www.thenewsherald.com/articles/2012/06/17/news/doc4fdb57311d8bc016574313.txt

http://www.freep.com/article/20140727/BUSINESS06/307270092/

 

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Monterey Downs EIR: Horses will get 75 gallons per day while local humans face mandatory rationing

According to the recently released Monterey Downs EIR, horses like this and their buddies will get 75 gallons per day. Meanwhile local humans are on mandatory rationing as the drought enters its fourth year. No wonder the horse is laughing.

article-2362462-1AC8FC35000005DC-26_964x604

 

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Extraordinary 1992 Fort Ord Parklands Document Reveals Early Public Vision To Preserve Parker Flats

 

 

 

Fort Ord Parklands Group Vision Statement: January 1992
To make the size of the documents manageable, this large document has been divided into three parts.
 –
Part 1 is the text in which relevant parts have been highlighted.
Part 2 contains the figures and tables.
 Part 3 has the references and appendices.
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Monterey Herald: Monterey Downs economic analysts sued

http://www.montereyherald.com/business/20150203/monterey-downs-economic-analysts-sued

SEASIDE >> The firm behind a draft fiscal and economic impact report for Seaside’s proposed Monterey Downs development is being sued by two California cities over financial calculation errors.

Willdan Financial Services was sued by the cities last year for miscalculating utility rates, and in 2013 the firm was accused by a third town of the same.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Willdan’s parent company, Willdan Group Inc., stated in an official filing that it plans to “vigorously defend against the claims,” adding, “this matter is covered by the company’s professional liability insurance policy.”

Monterey Downs chief operations officer Beth Palmer said she hadn’t heard about the lawsuits, and said the project hired Willdan mainly because their longtime analyst James Edison had recently left another company to join the firm.

Edison, managing principal at Willdan Financial, declined comment, telling The Herald he was not authorized to talk to the press.

Palmer said Edison was recommended to Monterey Downs because he had experience with Fort Ord projects.

In July, the Southern California city of Glendale sued Willdan for $9.3 million. That amount covers the $9 million city officials said the company’s miscalculated water rates cost the city since 2012, along with consultants’ fees that Willdan and another company were paid, plus the cost to notify ratepayers about the error.

 

 

Glendale City Attorney Michael Garcia said the city provided bimonthly water use information, but Willdan’s staff “assumed it was monthly data” when the firm told the city what it should charge for water.

“There was a significant reduction in revenue” for the city, Garcia said, and when stunned city staff “worked backwards,” they discovered the error.

Willdan “acknowledged it caused incorrect rates, but said we should go back and charge the customers,” Garcia said. “We didn’t think that was fair.”

Garcia said no settlement talks are in the works at this point and the lawsuit is proceeding.

In August, Union City sued for $140,000 for failing to include a sanitation rate hike in calculations from 2012 that were given to the Alameda County assessor for use in property tax bills.

“Willdan admitted to that error, but refused to compensate the city for its error,” Union City’s City Attorney Ben Reyes said.

He said the firm told the city, “You have to go do a supplemental billing to the customers.”

Reyes said officials felt that response was “an inappropriate result. … It would lead customers to the conclusion that someone in the city had committed the error and not Willdan.”

He said when Union City increased another fee a few years ago, “there was a recall of two out of three City Council members. The residents are very sensitive to this.”

He said the city is in the process of trying to set up formal mediation with Willdan in hopes a settlement can be reached.

“We’re hoping, because in the scheme of things our case is much smaller than what’s going on in Glendale and presumably in Monterey, and we’d just like to get this behind us,” he said.

In 2013, the Humboldt County community of McKinleyville accused Willdan of a 2011 miscalculation that cost it $400,000. Willdan agreed to re-do the town’s water and sewer rate analysis at no charge, officials there said. Residents are now paying a monthly surcharge to make up the discrepancy that will last until December 2017.

Palmer said Monterey Downs’ situation is likely different from the cities because Seaside has made sure there is oversight.

“I don’t know that we would have that situation here, because you have a completely independent party to double check the work,” she said. “The city has hired its own company, which we pay for, to peer review it. That’s one reason we have so many versions (of the report).”

Michael Salerno, co-founder of Keep Fort Ord Wild, said Willdan Financial’s report for the combined housing and racetrack development was released to his group as part of a public records request. The November draft came after a version in March that had higher revenue estimates, he said.

Plans are to build the development in six phases, with Seaside losing money in four of those. It will take all six phases to reach the promise of $1.2 million annually going to the city’s general fund, according to the report’s estimate.

Salerno said his organization started scrutinizing the report after learning that Willdan Financial was being sued.

“That’s what made us look at the numbers more closely,” he said. “That’s twice in the past year for errors in their reports that cost the cities money.”

Salerno said his group has concerns about projected revenue from 141 events that would be held each year, including 40 concerts and 60 local, state and national horse shows. The events would draw 380,000 visitors, the report says, who would spend some $16 million a year in the surrounding community.

“They’re using some assumptions in there that are just crazy,” Salerno said. “They have 141 events, which basically means the place is running constantly. These thousands of people per day, some during the week — there’s no precedent for that in Monterey County.”

In comparison, Albany’s Golden Gate Fields hosts 28 summer concerts.

Salerno said the total of five horse shows per month also seems extreme.

“They didn’t sum the number of events or describe why that was rational. If they’re overestimating the amount of events, they’re going to overestimate the revenue,” Salerno said. “So if the project already has a thin margin … they could end up with something that’s completely revenue-negative for the entire project.”

Palmer said the report “is not a set-in-stone document” and its revenue projections will likely continue to change.

“We’re still in the process, with four or five drafts already, and we’re still getting numbers from the city,” she said. “Everybody’s looking at something that’s a moving target right now. It’s not final.”

Herald staff writer Jim Johnson contributed to this story. Julia Reynolds can be reached at 726-4365.

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