May 31, 2005
City of Clearlake
14050 Olympic Dr.
Clearlake, CA 95422
TO: Rose Marie Moore
RE: Provinsalia Golf Community
To Whom It May Concern:
I am commenting on the proposed Provinsalia Golf Community because of its impact on one of the last undeveloped stretches of Cache Creek.
Originally, the project proposed the development of 520 acres of land on both the north and south sides of Cache Creek. The project included parcels within the City limits and parcels outside of the City limits. The maps showing the extent of the 520-acre project is in the Baseline Studies Report produced by RMM, published in August of 2004 (see attachment). When the Initial Study for the project was released in May, 232 acres of land were pulled from the project. These parcels are still owned by the developers, but are not being considered when judging the scope of this project for environmental review. If the developers choose to develop or sell these parcels to other developers the cumulative impacts of the combined projects would have a much larger impact to the surrounding environment than the Provinsalia Project alone. Removing these parcels from the proposed project may qualify as piecemealing, a practice in which a project is divided into smaller separate projects. This practice violates the legislative intent of CEQA, as evidenced by the following policies and lawsuits:
§15003. CEQA Policies
(f) CEQA was intended to be interpreted in such a manner as to afford the fullest possible protection to the environment within the reasonable scope of the statutory language. (Friends of Mammoth v. Board of Supervisors, 8 Cal. 3d 247.)
(g) The purpose of CEQA is not to generate paper, but to compel government at all levels to make decisions with environmental consequences in mind. (Bozung v. LAFCO (1975) 13 Cal.3d 263)
(h) The lead agency must consider the whole of an action, not simply its constituent parts, when determining whether it will have a significant environmental effect. (Citizens Assoc. For Sensible Development of Bishop Area v. County of Inyo (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 151) The following excerpts are taken from the referenced law suit: Title 14, section 15064, subdivision (d) of the California Administrative Code states that, "in evaluating the significance of the environmental effect of a project, the lead agency shall consider both primary or direct and secondary or indirect consequences." (Emphasis added.) This is further explained as follows: "Primary consequences are immediately related to the project such as the dust, noise, and traffic of heavy equipment that would result from construction of a sewage treatment plant and possible odors from operation of the plant... Secondary consequences are related more to effects of the primary consequences than to the project itself and may be several steps removed from the project in a chain of cause and effect. For example, the construction of a new sewage treatment plant may facilitate population growth in the service area due to the increase in sewage treatment capacity and may lead to an increase in air pollution." (Ibid.)
CEQA mandates "... that environmental considerations do not become submerged by chopping a large project into many little ones--each with a minimal potential impact on the environment--which cumulatively may have disastrous consequences." (Bozung v. Local Agency Formation Com., supra, 13 Cal.3d at pp. 283-284, 99 Cal.Rptr. 745, 492 P.2d 1137; see Rural Landowners Assn. v. City Council (1983) 143 Cal.App.3d 1013, 1024, 192 Cal.Rptr. 325.)
The City has maintained that they donıt have jurisdiction since the omitted parcels are under the jurisdiction of the County of Lake. This reasoning is not an excuse to condone piecemealing of the project. Cumulative effects happen regardless of City or County boundaries and the City has the legal responsibility as lead agency to address this issue.
The omitted acreage of 232 acres includes roughly 9,000 ft of creek frontage on the south side of Cache Creek and 3,000 ft along the north side of Cache Creek for a total of 12,000 ft of creek front property, twice the amount of sensitive riparian habitat than reported in the revised projectıs Initial Study. If these lands are developed, and with all that creek frontage it is reasonable to assume that it will be developed, then the cumulative environmental impact of the projects will be significant.
In addition, the added infrastructure proposed by the Provinsalia project such as the water treatment plant and expanded sewage facilities may prompt development of surrounding lands including the 67 acres (APN # 01-001-327) to the east of the Provinsalia Golf Community that the Provinsalia developers own, but excluded from the project.
Given that these omitted parcels contain riparian habitat and extensive oak woodland habitat, I would suggest that the developers place these parcels in a conservation easement that forbids development or place the land with a land trust group such as the successful and respected Lake County Land Trust.
According to the Provinsalia Specific Plan over 1500 trees with trunks over 4 inches in diameter will be removed. Comparing the aerial photograph of the project and the map showing the trees to be removed it is obvious that many of the larger trees in the project will be removed. While replanting trees is commendable, blue oak is a particularly slow growing oak and it will be many decades before seedlings can grow to the size of the trees being removed.
The developers have stated in the Provinsalia Specific Plan that phase 1 of the project will be financed by the formation of a Community Services District to own and operate the golf course, the internal streets, and the water treatment plant. Mello-Roos Bonds will finance the service district. A Mello-Roos district is created by the approval of a 2/3 margin of the qualified voters in the district. Property owners within the district are subject to a ³special tax². In essence the taxpayers of Clearlake will be financing the infrastructure of the Provinsalia Golf Community. This funding mechanism raises several questions: How large is the Community Services District? Will all citizens of Clearlake be subject to this tax? How much will the tax cost those in the Community Service District? Do the good people of Clearlake really want a golf course given that the City has so many unpaved roads? Should citizens be taxed so that developers can profit?
Residents along Dam Road and on the south side of Cache Creek will have their view shed negatively impacted by this project. By comparing the topographic map on p.63 and the phase map on p.22 it is obvious that hundreds of homes will be developed on ridge tops and at the top of steep hills increasing the visual impact of the project. Phase VIII is an example of ridge top development. The developers should limit the number of homes built on ridges and hillsides.
The project is laid out in phases with the building of the parks, walking trails and on-site bike paths delayed until phase 7. Given that the developers donıt have the finances to implement phase 1 without creating a ³special tax² district, I am concerned that all the best parts of the proposal will be left undone if the developer runs out of money. What guarantee does the city have that the developer will follow through with all phases as outlined in the Specific Plan?
This project is hardly a ³planned community² in the sense that the developers are not building the homes, instead they are creating lots to sell to individuals and other developers, with the tax payers footing the bill for the roads, the golf course and the water treatment plant.
Thank you, for considering my comments.