Del Monte project in Pebble Beach gets restart
Golf course removed from Pebble Beach Co. plan
By LARRY PARSONS
Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 01/06/2010 04:27:25 PM PST
The Peninsula's periodic debate over development of the Del Monte Forest appears ready to hit the restart button.
The Pebble Beach Co. says it will move forward with a new, scaled-down development plan for its prized real estate after a concerted and, apparently, successful effort to reach a meeting of the minds with key staff members of the state Coastal Commission.
"The staff and the company decided to take a look at what ... would be palatable and consistent with the Coastal Act," said Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter, a former member of the commission. The meetings took place last year, he said.
In a prepared statement, company chief executive Bill Perocchi said, "The commission staff and Pebble Beach Co. have been working to develop a project we could both support before Monterey County and the Coastal Commission. We are very pleased that, together, we have been able to achieve that goal."
The biggest change between the old and new plan boils down to three words: no golf course.
That is a key difference between the new plan and the proposal that engendered fierce environmental opposition during much of the past decade and ultimate denial by the Coastal Commission in 2007.
"With the golf course eliminated that would eliminate a large amount of controversy," Potter said Tuesday. "That was the deal killer because of the issue of a massive tree loss."
In June 2007, the Coastal Commission thwarted a company plan that would have allowed development of a new 18-hole golf course, 160 hotel rooms, 36 new homes, 60 employee units and a relocated equestrian center.
That plan was built around a 2000 ballot measure approved by county voters and trumpeted by the company as a forest-saving measure, but the commission ultimately voted 8-4 against the "Measure A" coastal plan seven years later.
Opponents said the development would destroy up to 18,000 Monterey pines, and commission staff members said it was at odds with coastal policies to protect environmentally sensitive habitat.
The new plan calls for a small hotel with up to 100 homes at the old Spyglass quarry; 80 new rooms at the Lodge at Pebble Beach and 60 new rooms at the Inn at Spanish Bay; and 90 single-family homes.
Those developments would occur on existing lots or land that is already disturbed, Potter said, which would sharply reduce potential environmental impacts.
The company said the new plan would preserve 635 acres of sensitive forest habitat, including all the remaining land in Pescadero Canyon, 137 acres that had been proposed for the new golf course and 120 acres next to the Huckleberry Hill nature preserve.
Under the new plan, the Pebble Beach equestrian center would remain at its current location, while 42 acres near Sawmill Gulch that had been proposed for a new equestrian center would be preserved.
The new plan calls for new parking near Spanish Bay resort and a relocated golf driving range in the Collins Field area, the company said.
"We think the project is a drastic improvement over what was originally proposed," said commission spokeswoman Sarah Christie.
Potter said Pebble Beach Co. officials hashed out the new plan in meetings with commission staff members, including longtime Executive Director Peter Douglas and senior deputy director Charles Lester.
While the new proposal may be a more realistic starting point, Potter noted that the plan still faces county and commission scrutiny.
"That could be rather protracted," he said.
The company said the new plan will require environmental review, coastal plan amendments and development permits. Getting the plan through county and commission review is expected to take two years, the company said.
Christie said the staff-level agreement doesn't bind the commission to approve the plan.
"The commission will have full discretion as they always do," she said. "This will be the staff recommendation and they can agree or disagree."
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.