Fort Ord Access Alliance

Growling Cat

Whispering Oaks is confirmed on the agenda of the County Oversight Board, this Thursday, April 171:30pm, 168 West Alisal Street, Salinas. PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL NOW and attend the meetingThursday.

Three years and 18,000 referendum signatures ago, you preserved the 58-acre Whispering Oaks forest, with its rich habitat and vital Sgt. Allan MacDonald Cavalry Trail link, from obliteration under proposed development by Monterey–Salinas Transit.

Last month, the County Board of Supervisors agreed there is more benefit in keeping Whispering Oaks as habitat than in selling it with other former-development-agency parcels. Now is the time to make one final push for Whispering Oaks.

The Oversight Board for Monterey County is scheduled to review the property-disposition plan before it heads to the state finance department. Please take a minute to send (or re-send) your email to, addressed to the Oversight Board. The following is an example:

Dear Oversight Board Members,
The County’s property-management plan contains a provision to retain former redevelopment properties in Fort Ord that have habitat restrictions. I urge you in particular to keep the landfill area, which is dedicated primarily for habitat and recreation under the Fort Ord Reuse Plan. The area is serving a governmental purpose as an important component in the overall planning for former Fort Ord. Due to lack of water and infrastructure and active habitat-management requirements that must be fulfilled, this land is of little or no value to developers. But it is of tremendous value to the community as a trail greenway, recreation area, and habitat for protected species. Please approve the plan as submitted by the County.

The disposition of Whispering Oaks has far-reaching consequences for recreation, wildlife movement, quality of life for CSUMB and Marina, and fulfillment of the beach-to-monument open-space corridor prescribed in the Fort Ord Reuse Plan for the benefit of all Monterey County residents and visitors.

Thank you for your determination to see this matter through!

The Access Alliance vision is alive and well, and will maintain strong public pressure on the Fort Ord Reuse Authority board. If you would like to contribute time and talent, please contact us via email on the Contact page.

Alliance Spokesman Jason Campbell’s post-election Monterey County Herald commentary:

If you voted for Measure M, the Fort Ord Open Space Access initiative, this commentary is for you. While Measure M didn’t quite top the 50 percent mark, we came close. Be proud that we navigated the disinformation campaign waged by the Monterey Downs developers in our effort to preserve 540 acres of oak woodlands. We also can be glad that Measure K lost badly, which should send a message to the Monterey Downs developers that their project isn’t welcomed here, but so far it doesn’t appear they’ve gotten the message. So we need to keep up the fight.

Here are some suggestions for how you can help:

Seaside residents, your town does not support the Monterey Downs development. Measure K, the developers’ initiative designed to facilitate approval of the project, failed in Seaside. This is a fact that should temper the enthusiasm of the City Council, but if it hasn’t sunk in yet, you can help by reminding the council members.

Pacific Grove residents, if the election were held only in your town, Measure M would have passed and Measure K failed miserably. Yet your Mayor Bill Kampe, who serves as the city’s representative on the Fort Ord Reuse Authority board, still needs to be encouraged to enforce the open space policies in the Fort Ord Base Reuse Plan.

Most people don’t realize that the Monterey Downs project would be improperly placed on a county site slated for “light” commercial development and no residential units, with emphasis on the preservation of oak trees. And the policies protecting the oak woodlands were conveniently excluded from Monterey County’s planning document for Fort Ord. The Sierra Club has demanded that the proper policies be reinserted into the county general plan. Remind your mayor of his obligation to enforce the plans and policies for Fort Ord.

Monterey and Carmel voters, Measure M won in your towns as well. Your representatives are already doing their job at FORA; you can simply thank them for that. (5th district voters should not forget that Supervisor Dave Potter invited horse race track promoter Brian Boudreau to Monterey County.)

If you rely on Salinas Basin water, you can urge Monterey County Supervisors Lou Calcagno, Fernando Armenta and Simon Salinas to protect the groundwater resources of the basin and require Monterey Downs to have a secured, operational water project before allowing Seaside to annex county property in Parker Flats. Otherwise, the Salinas River Basin will be supplying water for 800 horses, hotels, shops and many homes — basically a mini-city sprung up in the middle of Fort Ord’s back country — while saltwater intrusion continues to be a serious threat to the health and safety of your water supply.

To all local politicians, talk about the environmental effects outlined in a study reported by The Herald on Nov. 24, finding that the project would cut down about 42,000 oak trees and “permanently change the wooded character of the project area.”

There are other unavoidable impacts outlined in the environmental reports: excessive carbon monoxide production greatly exceeding established limits; major impacts to several sections of Highway 1 and its ramps in Seaside and Sand City; and the need for more police and fire services that the city currently cannot pay for. These impacts are as bad or even worse than we imagined.

We can’t allow this travesty. The Fort Ord Access Alliance will continue the fight. We are not giving up, and we have partnerships with many local citizen groups. There will be another opportunity to do a referendum if the project moves forward. We’ll be there, and we’ll be calling upon you to help once again with signature collection and campaigning.

There will be legal challenges shaping up regarding lack of water and other impacts; we know people ready to bring these challenges forth. Measure M was just one chapter in the book of preserving Fort Ord’s recreation areas.

The story goes on.