Committee For Green Foothills letter to Planning Commissioners regarding Big Wave Project EIR
March 24, 2010
David Bomberger, Chair and
Members of the Planning Commission
Re: Big Wave Environmental Impact Report
Dear Chair Bomberger and Members of the Commission,
I learned last week that the Big Wave proponents have refused to pay the additional costs for the EIR consultants to prepare the responses to comments on the Draft EIR for the Big Wave project.
In response to this stonewalling, the county is allowing the Applicant’s engineer, Mr. Scott Holmes, to prepare responses to comments on the DEIR, which County Planning, Environmental Health, Public Works, and other relevant staff will then “peer review” before issuing the Final EIR.
This decision flies in the face of the County’s long-standing policy of not allowing applicants and their consultants to prepare EIR’s or responses to public comments. Staff ‘s “peer review” of the applicant’s responses does not cure the fundamental problem of transparency and independence of this document.
The Big Wave project is highly controversial. There were 245 comments received by the County by the December 24, 2009 deadline. Many of these were substantive and questioned the adequacy of the DEIR’s analysis and lack of crucial information on geology, hydrology, drainage, visual impacts, traffic, safety, as well as the wisdom of allowing a residential project for a vulnerable population in an area subject to seismic hazards, tsunami hazards,, airport hazards, incompatibility with the zoning, among other issues. People labored long and hard on reviewing the 2200 pages of the DEIR, and commenting on it, which was especially challenging due to the deadline of December 24, 2009, at 5:00 pm.
There is no question that Mr. Holmes has a bias in favor of the project. He has much more than an economic interest – he is a parent of a disabled adult, and is on the board of the Big Wave non-profit. He has donated his time – thousands of hours – to this project. He has conceived of many of the features and is committed to making the project “green”. He has a tremendous stake in its outcome – his child’s future is involved. I have a lot of sympathy for the cause, but the ends do not justify the means. In fact, this decision goes against the best interest of the project proponents, and taints the credibility of the EIR.
At the heart of the EIR process is the assurance to an apprehensive public that all potential environmental effects of a project have been identified, analyzed, and mitigated, and that any action taken by the County reflects the independent judgment of County decision-makers.
I urge your Commission to do whatever you can to ensure that the established process for EIR preparation and approval is followed.
Thank you for consideration of these comments.
Lennie Roberts, Legislative Advocate