Tonight the Planning Board will hold a public hearing on scoping for a possible EIR on the proposed reconfiguration of the City’s golf courses and land swap. Because of the Brown Act, it’s important to remember what this meeting is about:
Public Hearing / Scoping Session of the Environmental Impact Report for the proposal to reconfigure the Chuck Corica Golf Course, build up to 130 housing units on the lands currently occupied by the Mif Albright 9-hole course and build playing fields on 12 acres of land on North Loop Road in the Harbor Bay Business Park.
The Planning Board will not be allowed to even discuss issues unrelated to the scoping of the EIR, this would include taking a position on the project. So heading off to the meeting to try and convince the Board that it’s a bad project and they should tell the council is a poor use of your time. The only outcome of that action is a longer meeting, one is asking for something that can’t legally happen.
It might help manage expectations if people realize that it is very unlikely that the EIR, if it is ever conducted, will have findings that will stop this project. EIR’s are information documents, designed to make sure that decision-making bodies, and the public, are aware of the impacts of projects before they get built. They may find impacts, but only need to mitigate them, or make a finding of “overriding considerations” to move forward. However in the case of this EIR, it’s likely that “traffic” will be the big concern, and the EIR isn’t going to find a huge one. Consider the current traffic situation (actually 2007, pre-economic meltdown):
There are 5326 housing units on Bay Farm Island according to the Census and these generate 1726 trips down Island Drive during the peak hour commute (per the Harbor Bay Village VI EIR). That’s .324 trips per household in the morning peak rush hour. The peak hour is when the crush happens for 20 minutes at Island and Robert Davey Jr. So you can extrapolate that information and find that 130 homes will likely generate about 42 car trips during the peak hour through Island and Doolittle. An increase of 2.4%. Given that these are slightly smaller homes (meaning likely fewer children), the number is likely a little high. Wither way, it’s not insignificant, but it’s not going to blow out the intersection enough to stop a project.
So tonight, consider the State’s guidelines on scoping and why it’s a good idea:
Scoping has been helpful to agencies in identifying the range of actions, alternatives, mitigation measures, and significant effects to be analyzed in depth in an EIR and in eliminating from detailed study issues found not to be important.
EIRs have to look at alternatives, so if there is one that is not “don’t do it” (which will already be studied), bring it up and ask to have it looked at. If there are plans and programs within the City that this will negatively impact, ask to have an analysis of the impact included in the EIR. The State’s guidelines include a checklist for possible issues on page 239, they are:
- Agriculture and ForestryResources
- Air Quality
- Biological Resources
- Cultural Resources
- Geology /Soils
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Hazards & Hazardous Materials
- Hydrology / Water Quality
- Land Use / Planning
- Mineral Resources
- Population / Housing
- Public Services
- Utilities / Service Systems
- Mandatory Findings of Significance
The Checklist then has a list of questions for each category that can be answered on the pages that follow.