Areas of Concern

Read the Amended Carmel Valley Master Plan

Map of Master Plan Area

Carmel Valley Village Development Criteria

Read Our Legal Settlement with the County

Read Citygate's Report on the Monterey County Resource Management Agency
and its Recommendations for Change

CVA Summary of Citygate Report on Monterey County Resource Management Agency

Mid-Valley Shopping Center

Although at its June 14 meeting the Board of Supervisors denied that the project was eligible for historical listing, it nevertheless certified the Final Environmental Impact Report finding the project would have a significant and unavoidable impact on historic resources. The staff also filed a Notice of Determination with the state indicating the project was approved and would have no significant impacts - neither of which is correct. CVA has requested the notice be withdrawn.

The supervisors’ decision overrode recommendations to list the center as an historic resource by county planning staff presentation at the meeting, by the Monterey County Historic Resources Review Board, by the EIR findings that the developer’s plan would have “significant and unavoidable” impacts on the integrity of the center’s design, and by extensive reports from Page & Turnbull and Painter Associates, two highly regarded firms specializing in historic architectural evaluations.

At the end of the hearing, the applicant said he planned to withdraw his application and submit a new one. He also said he would meet with the community to discuss paint colors. As of this time, the application has been withdrawn. How the permitting process will be handled and the type of environmental review are yet to be identified by staff.

Draft EIR Relaesed

Monterey County has released the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the developer’s project plans for the Mid-Valley Shopping Center.  The EIR, needed to resolve disagreements about the proposed design aspects of the project, concludes that the project would have “significant and unavoidable impacts” on the Center’s architecture.  In other words, the developer’s project is unacceptable under CEQA.

In 2019 our community voiced strong objections to the proposed project design changes.  In response, the developer sought to defend his plans by engaging consultants to claim that the Center has no architectural or historic merit.  CVA, however, countered by commissioning an expert report that profiled the Center as a valuable historic resource.  In 2020, the County authorized the EIR and approved an independent third-party consultant to address the conflicting opinions.

In the EIR, besides the finding that the project’s proposed design impacts cannot be mitigated, are the following conclusions: (1) The property is “eligible for listing” on Federal, State and County historic registers, (2) The design of the project is inconsistent with Monterey’s General Plan, its Historic Preservation Ordinance, and the Carmel Valley Master Plan, and 3) The character-defining architectural features of the Center should be conserved (the roof forms, exposed framing, covered walkways, parking layout, aggregate finishes, etc.), and (4) The white paint and column claddings installed by the developer should be removed.

A copy of the EIR and appendices is available at the Carmel Valley Public Library and at this site:

A Report to the County on the Results of a
Assesment of the Historical Significance of the Mid-Valley Shopping Center
by the Firm of Page & Turnbill

November 18, 2019
Mr. Brandon Swanson
Interim RMA Chief of Planning
Monterey County Resource Management Agency
1441 Schilling Place Salinas, California 93921

RE: Mid Valley Shopping Center Phase One Historic Assessment

Dear Mr. Swanson,

At the request of the Carmel Valley Association, Page & Turnbull has prepared a Phase One Historic Assessment in the form of Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) 523A and 523B forms for the Mid Valley Shopping Center at 9550 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley (Appendix A). Page & Turnbull’s evaluation of the subject property finds that the Mid Valley Shopping Center is eligible for listing as an individual resource in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) and California Register of Historical Resources (California Register). It is significant at the local level for its association with architect Olof Dahlstrand, and as a good example of the architect’s work in a multi-unit commercial complex. Its period of significance is 1966-1967. In addition, the complex meets requirements for listing in the Monterey County Register of Historic Resources (Monterey County Register).

At the request of the Carmel Valley Association, Page & Turnbull also reviewed Anthony Kirk's September 18, 2019 letter report regarding the Mid Valley Shopping Center at 9550 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, Monterey County (APNs 169-234-007 and 169-234-008) (Appendix B). Our comments are provided in Appendix C.

The Mid Valley Shopping Center is not currently listed on the National Register, California Register, or Monterey County Register. The subject property is not listed in the April 5, 2012 Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) Directory of Properties in the Historic Property Data File for Monterey County, indicating that there is currently no formal evaluation on file for the address in the California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS). Kirk's September 2019 letter report reached a finding that the Mid Valley Shopping Center is ineligible for listing in the National Register, California Register, or Monterey County Register as it lacks significance under any of the criteria for evaluation.

Page & Turnbull conducted a site visit to the subject property on October 11, 2019, to photograph and inspect the existing conditions of building exteriors and landscape elements. Additional research regarding the subject property was conducted at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design Archives, secondary sources regarding Monterey County architecture in the collection of Page & Turnbull, and using online databases including the UC Santa Barbara Aerial Photograph Collection, Online Archive of California,, and historic California newspapers at

The following summary of the property’s historic significance is excerpted from Page & Turnbull’s evaluation of the its eligibility for the National Register and California Register:

The Mid Valley Shopping Center appears to be individually eligible under Criterion C/3 (Architecture) for its association with locally prominent architect, Olof Dahlstrand. The shopping center exemplifies Dahlstrand’s use of form and material in a Wrightian-inspired design that respects the features of its surrounding natural environment. Though an undoubtedly commercial complex, Frank Lloyd Wright’s influences can be seen in the use of naturalistic materials and dramatic roof lines echoing the surrounding hill slopes. Further, it is a unique example of the application of the architect's work to a large suburban commercial complex, with integrated vehicle parking and circulation in addition to pedestrian walkways and courtyards.

Page & Turnbull’s attached DPR 523A and 523B forms for the property provide additional detail regarding existing conditions, the design and construction sequence of the complex, and context for evaluation of its historic significance. Following evaluation of the shopping center according to the criteria for listing in the National Register and California Register, Page & Turnbull provides an analysis of the shopping center’s integrity and a list of its character-defining features. Based on our finding that the property is eligible for the National Register and California Register, the Mid Valley Shopping Center should be considered an historical resource for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).1 

Sincerely, Stacy Kozakavich
Cultural Resources Planner
Page & Turnbull 

Link to Page and Turnbull's report
including a letter from the developer's consultant and P&T's response.

Read About the Recent Sale of Another Dahstrand Creation

A committee of valley residents organized by CVA members has created survey concerning the center.

Results of Survey

Link to the Developer's Plan

Letter to the Valley Community from the Developer

Results of Our Spring 2017 Survey of Valley Residents' Concerns:

Numerical Results

Written Responses

Short Term ("Vacation") Rentals

The Carmel Valley Association has Commented
on Vacation Rental Draft Ordinances Notice of Preparation
for the EIR Scoping and Initial Analysis

CVA is concerned that the Draft Ordinances will cause deterioration in residential neighborhoods rather than preserving and enhancing the residential character and sense of security and safety in stable neighborhoods of residential properties.

The commercialized whole-house vacation rentals that constitute 85% of the 166 currently advertised properties create the greatest environmental threats to our communities, and this Project's allowing of their permitting essentially rezones our low density neighborhoods into Commercial Visitor Accommodations while side-stepping the established legislative process for doing so.
The Project does not protect the privacy and rural residential character of adjoining properties. This draft ordinance allows vacation rentals far in excess of the established caps on the number of visitor serving units and will overburden Carmel Valley, which already sees significant environmental impacts from excessive tourism in traffic, noise, lighting, and hazards.

The proposed ordinance allows any of 5,033 homeowners in Carmel Valley to apply for a Limited Vacation Rental Operating Permit to rent up to 42 days per year with no land use permits required. Commercial permits, which could operate 365 days a year, would be capped at 302 and permitted on a first come first served basis. CVA has questioned the accuracy of the Agency’s numbers.
Enforcement continues to be an issue under existing codes, as pointed out in the Grand Jury findings of 2021. How will the County provide additional resources to bring operators into compliance with the ordinances?

Most properties in the Low Density Residential zoning of Carmel Valley have views to a ridge line, a dark night sky, or a field that would be impacted by the Project's allowing of added parked cars, fencing, and possible additions to existing residential properties to accommodate vacation rental activities.
CVA suggests the following alternatives:

  • No Project - No Change in existing ordinances.

  • Home-Stay Only Project. County-wide home-stay vacation rentals only can be permitted on the condition that the homeowner be present on the property during the rental period.
Read our entire 49 page comment

On December 8, 2021, county planners presented to the Board of Supervisors, and the supervisors accepted, a realistic interim program to enforce current ordinances, which have languished unenforced for many years.

The major components of the interim program are:

  • Public Outreach and Education – 30 Day Provide information and guidance for greater communication and coordination among those involved at multiple levels in vacation rental operations.
  • Enforcement – Provide varying levels of code compliance response and guidance to those involved in noncompliant vacation rentals operations.
  • Technology - Increase the use of third-party services/technology in vacation rental advertisement monitoring, complaint hotline, and violation notification.
  • Staffing - Increase staff by one Supervising Code Compliance Inspector, one Code Compliance Inspector, and one Office Assistant.
  • Funding - Use citation payments and Transient Occupancy Tax to fund the vacation rental code compliance efforts, with emphasis on full cost recovery.

Thank you to county staff for listening to CVA, and thank you to the almost 500 people who sent letters and emails in support of our position.

We will continue to work with county planners and supervisors to ensure that a new ordinance respects and maintains the residential character of Carmel Valley neighborhoods.

Update: Under pressure from CVA and community groups, the county has initiated a hotline for residents to report problems with short-term rentals in their

by telephone at (831) 900-4441, or by an online form at

Here is our letter to the Supervisors stating CVA's position on short-term ("vacation") rentals in Carmel Valley:


Date:  August 9, 2021


Wendy Root Askew


Monterey County Board of Supervisors

168 West Alisal St., 1st Floor

Salinas, CA 93901


Cc: Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, Eric Lundquist


Subject:  Draft Vacation Rental Ordinance (Inland)


Dear Chair Askew and Members of the Board:


The Carmel Valley Association (CVA) participated in the Board of Supervisor’s hearing on Short-Term Rentals, where board members provided policy direction. Our comments follow:


The many unique neighborhoods in Carmel Valley are what attract new residents to the area. As more commercial vacation rentals proliferate, the desire to live the “Carmel Valley Lifestyle” will lose its luster as we become more commercialized. Don’t ruin this special place.


Inconsistency with the Carmel Valley Master Plan


The plan provides the following:


CV-1.15 Visitor accommodation uses shall follow the following guidelines:


a. Expansion of existing hotels, motels, and lodges should be favored over the development of new projects.

b. Visitor accommodation projects must be designed so that they respect the privacy and rural residential character of adjoining properties.

c. Bed and breakfast facilities shall be counted as visitor accommodation units and be limited to a maximum of five (5) units clustered on five (5) acres in accord with Monterey County Code Chapter 15.20, unless served by public sewers.

 d. All further development of visitor accommodations in the area west of Via Mallorca and north of Carmel River shall be limited to moderately-sized facilities, not to exceed a total of 175 units.

e. There shall be a maximum of 110 additional visitor accommodation units approved east of Via Mallorca, including units at Carmel Valley Ranch.


The draft ordinance does not protect the privacy and rural residential character of adjoining properties.  Limited Visitor- Serving Rentals are not limited in total numbers or total visitors at any one time in Carmel Valley (See comments under CEQA Requirements).


The plan defines bed and breakfast facilities as visitor accommodation units. Based on this precedent, the draft ordinance should treat all short-term rentals subject to the cap identified in the Plan as visitor-serving units.  As noted in previous comments, CVA undertook a detailed investigation of existing visitor units in the spring of 2020. This was done to determine the baseline number of existing VSUs. This needs to be compared to the actual number of VSUs existing at the time of the 2010 Carmel Valley Master Plan.  Those numbers need to be deducted from the cap numbers of visitor-serving units East of Majorca and the cap west of Majorca in the Carmel Valley Master Plan. 


Without the baseline numbers and the units built since 2010 and their subtraction from the VSU numbers, this ordinance will discriminate against  Carmel Valley by over-loading an area that is already suffering from over-tourism. In Carmel Valley, no vacation rentals should be allowed until the existing VSU count has been completed by the County and agreeable to all affected parties, such as CVA.


Inconsistency with Existing Zoning Ordinance Title 21.64.28


The draft ordinance includes requirements that are inconsistent with and less stringent than existing requirements. The existing section finds that limited vacation rentals could have impacts on residential neighborhoods and require discretionary permits.  The proposed ordinance finds that limited vacation rentals are ministerial with no land use permits required.  Please explain how under existing regulations, a rental for 7 days might require mitigation measures, while under the proposed ordinance,  a rental for 14 days three times a year would not have impacts. The relaxation of requirements should be evaluated in the CEQA analysis for the proposed ordinance


  The applicable sections of Title 21.64.28 follow:

A. 3.The use of single and multiple family dwelling units, duplexes, guesthouses, caretaker units and other structures normally occupied for residential purposes, for bed and breakfast, hostel, hotel, inn, lodging, resort, or other transient lodging purposes has impacts on residential areas which must be addressed through existing County use permit processes.

A. 5.  If not properly regulated, such use of residential property may create adverse impacts on surrounding residential uses including, but not limited to, increased levels of commercial and residential vehicle traffic, parking demand, light and glare, and noise detrimental to surrounding residential uses and the general welfare of the County.  Moreover,  such use may increase demand for public services, including, but not limited to, police, fire, and medical emergency services, and neighborhood watch programs.

B.  Purpose.  The purpose of this Section is to:

1.  Preserve and enhance the residential character of the zoning districts established in Title 21 and the sense of security and safety in stable neighborhood of owner-occupied residences.

3. Except as provided in this Section, restrict transient use of property for remuneration, which use may be inharmonious with and injurious to the preservation of the character and environment of the various zoning districts in Title 21l.

C.  Definitions:

5.  “Transient Use of Residential Property” means the use, by any person, of residential property for bed and breakfast, hostel, hotel, inn, lodging, motel, resort or transient lodging uses where the term of occupancy, possession or tenancy of the property by the person entitled to such occupancy, possession, or tenancy is, except as provided herein, for not less than seven(7) nor more than thirty (3) consecutive calendar days.

D. Administrative Permit

1.  Permitted Use.

a.  Transient use of residential property for remuneration shall be permitted in all zoning districts which allow residential use upon the issuance of an administrative permit pursuant to Chapter 21.20 of Title 21, subject to regulations in Section D.2.


Commercial Vacation Rentals


 If Commercial VRs are allowed to operate 365 days per year and rent rooms and living space out to nonresidents, they are acting exactly like licensed hotels, inns, motels, lodges and B&Bs. They should be counted as Visitor-Serving Units (VSUs) subject to the VSU caps in the Carmel Valley Master Plan in order to protect residentially zoned neighborhoods from the invasion of overpopulated commercial enterprises.


If Commercial Vacation Rentals do not fall under the VSU cap, the proposed cap of 6% of single-family residential units should be lowered to 2% in Carmel Valley to protect the unique residential neighborhoods from commercialization.


Existing Vacation Rentals


Existing unpermitted vacation rentals should not be allowed to continue if they are unable to meet the ordinance requirements related to water availability, wastewater treatment, etc. Unpermitted units that meet the requirements should be phased out and required to obtain permits under the STR ordinance.


CEQA Analysis


As noted in the staff report, the draft STR ordinance is subject to environmental review.  Given board direction opposing caps for Limited Vacation Rentals, the CEQA analysis must assume a worst case scenario, e.g., 3,402 residential units times a total of 42 days and up to 30 persons per unit.  We understand the board indicated that Commercial Vacation Units should be limited to 6% of total residential units for a total of 204 units.  Since Commercial Vacation Units would not be limited in the number of days for which units could be rented, a worst case scenario must assume 204 units times 365 days per unit.  A similar evaluation would be required for use permit project level analysis under cumulative impacts.


The May staff  report states, “With the limitation on frequency and duration [for Limited Vacation Rentals], the use would be similar in character, density, and intensity to residential use, and is not anticipated to remove long-term housing from the market” (Attachment D).”  We disagree with that conclusion; e.g., three concurrent rentals in one neighborhood for 14 days each would certainly increase the intensity of use.


Affordable Housing


Affordable housing in Carmel Valley is very dear and many new commercial vacation rentals will not only reduce affordable housing but rental housing in general, forcing up rents and housing sale prices.


As identified above, the May staff report surmises that the limitation on Limited Vacation Rentals is not expected to remove long-term housing from the market.  Staff should support this finding with substantial evidence.  Additionally, CVA recommends that “Protecting Affordable Housing” be added to the purpose statement.




We recommend that all fees collected for enforcing the ordinance be limited to the amount needed to fully enforce the ordinance.  Fees should not be used to support the General Fund.


We also recommend the ordinance provide for public notice of all pending permits for both types of short-term rentals.  Notification should be provided to all neighbors.


 If there are no use permits for Limited VRs, how do we know that they will comply with required services for renters?   Would the County be liable for not policing these rentals in the event of accidents  at rental units?




Priscilla Walton



Here is the County's Current Policy (July 2015)

Map of Carmel Valley STRS as of February 2018

Proposed Ordinance June 2022

CVA Comments on Proposed Ordinance

Monterey County Civil Grand Jury Report on Short-Term Rentals

Monterey County Supervisors Approve Revised Plan for Rancho Cañada Village
How we got here:

In 2016, developer Alan Williams submitted and had approved by the Board of Supervisors a proposal for a 130-unit development on the former Rancho Cañada golf course. CVA challenged the decision in Superior Court based on faults in the Environment Impact Report, the failure of the County to properly follow the requirements of the Carmel Valley Revised General Plan, and the fact that the proposed 20% affordable housing did not meet county requirements. CVA’s suit was successful, and we entered into negotiations with the developer with what we felt were positive results. However, this spring the Court of Appeals overturned the decision of the lower court, and the developer was free to proceed with his original plan.

We were pleased that Mr. Williams agreed to bring a revised plan, which incorporated many of the elements CVA had negotiated, back to the Planning Commission, which approved it on June 9th. It will next go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

The following is from our June 9, 2021 letter to the Planning Commission:

Rancho Canada is authorized to build RCV with 130 units including 25 affordable housing units. However, in Alternative 6B the applicant has proposed a project with 145 units by increasing the Affordable Housing to 40 units (28%). He also will provide a 5-acre parcel zoned for Affordable Housing, with utilities and roadway brought to the site, construct 4 multi-unit buildings with a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms, and rent the apartments to local employees at moderate (28 units) and workforce (12 units) income levels.  The Project has improved considerably since first presented. CVA supports the Rancho Canada Project as presented on June 9, 2021 to the Planning Commission, CVA believing that this is in the best interests of the Carmel Valley and its residents for the following reasons:

  • The Carmel Valley Association has been in discussions with the applicant since January 2021. As a result of those discussions, CVA believes that the Project Alternative 6B will be a good project.
  • The 40 units of affordable housing are designed to meet the housing needs of employees that already work in the Carmel Valley.
  • The Project Alternative 6b achieves 28% affordable housing. While the project does not target the lower income categories, it does provide needed rental housing for local workers at the moderate and work force levels of affordability. 
  • The Project layout and design will produce a well-integrated affordable housing project that could set a high standard for design, integration and energy efficiency. 
  • CVA has established a positive relationship with the applicant for Rancho Canada Village.  We will continue to be involved as the project moves along to ensure that all the conditions are met.
  • The mitigation, design and infrastructure for flood control will improve the hazards of flooding and bring relief to the residents and businesses in the immediate area along Rio Road. 
  • Construction of Affordable housing will start within a year of completion of the infrastructure, ensuring that it has the same early priority as the rest of the project. While the timeline is that it will be ready for occupancy in five years, CVA is hopeful that the applicant will complete this with in a shorter timeline because of the demand for affordable housing.
The Carmel Valley Association appreciates your consideration of these comments.


Priscilla Walton, President, Carmel Valley Association


Prepared by Janet Brennan, Environmental Planning Consultant:

Environmental review is integral to the land use decision-making process. Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) are required when a project has the potential of having a significant impact on the environment and mitigation measures are not readily available so that a Mitigated Negative Declaration can be prepared. Many sections of an EIR require technical expertise to evaluate such as traffic, air quality and biological resource impacts.

However, there are many sections of an EIR that non-experts can address.

Read Janet Brennan's Guide to Making EIR Comments

Janet Brennan is Chair of the Carmel Valley Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC),
LandWatch board member, and CVA advisor.


A Primer on Carmel Valley Road Traffic Assessment with
Comments on Monterey County’s Traffic Evaluation on Highway One
by CVA Traffic Expert Dr. Tim Sanders

Carmel Valley Road, like other roads, is divided into segments, usually just a few miles long, for measurement purposes.

Link to a Map of Our Road's Segments

Direct measurement of traffic volume consists of counting of vehicles traveling past a specified point on a road segment during a fixed period of time. The actual counts typically are recorded every fifteen minutes for several days (e.g., a week), on an automatic device. Each day’s record is made available in a readable format for analysis. Thus the fundamental measurement unit is vehicles per quarter-hour, but this is converted to vehicles per hour or vehicles per day for purposes of analysis and assessment.

Carmel Valley Road has both two-lane and four-lane segments, but because the four-lane traffic capacities considerably exceed the existing traffic volumes, attention is focused on the two-lane segments. in the Carmel Valley Master Plan area there are seven two-lane segments  of Carmel Valley Road (identified as segments 1-7), all lying between the eastern edge of Carmel Valley Village and Via Petra (just west of Rancho San Carlos Road).

In addition the segment of Highway 1 between Carmel Valley Road is critical to understanding Carmel Valley Road traffic because (1) the west-bound lanes of Carmel Valley Road are contiguous with the northbound Highway 1 lanes, there being no exit or entrance to those lanes at their intersection, and (2) southbound Highway 1 consists of a single lane that is highly congested during peak traffic times, and 2/3 of its traffic enters Carmel Valley Road so that most traffic entering Carmel Valley Road must pass through that excessively congested lane, on which traffic volume exceeds the lane’s capacity.

Two separate criteria are used to evaluate traffic service quality on two-lane roadways like most of Carmel Valley Road. Both criteria depend on traffic counts as raw data.

“Average daily trips” is simply the total volume of vehicle flow in 24 hours -- the number of vehicles per day. Each two-lane segment of Carmel Valley Road is assigned a “threshold”, or acceptable level of traffic volume, by the County.

“Percent time spend following” (defined as the proportion of time during which the separation between vehicles is less than three seconds, when measured at a point along the road and at a time of peak traffic) is not really measureable in practice. In place of actual observation of the relevant percentage of time, a mathematical model (known as an exponential probability distribution) is used as a surrogate. During an hour when traffic is at its peak, the numbers of vehicles passing in each direction are observed, and the numbers are converted, through a complicated formula, into a number between zero and 100 that is presumed to represent the probability (in %) that an arbitrary vehicle would pass a fixed location less than 3 seconds after the vehicle preceding it. Thus the traffic measurement is of vehicles passing per hour, but the numerical assessment is a percentage; the formula represents the growth of traffic intensity as decreasing when the actual volume of traffic increases.

Assessment of the critical segment of Highway 1 between Ocean Avenue and Carmel Valley Road normally has been achieved through application of PTSF (described above) to the congested single southbound lane. However, a method called “multimode level of service”, or MMLOS, has recently, and totally inappropriately, used by the County to evaluate Highway 1 traffic for projects in the Carmel Valley Master Plan Area. This method does not even consider traffic volume measurements to evaluate traffic levels; instead it uses two roadway characteristics, the number of enforced stops per mile and the proportion of left-turn pockets as traffic criteria. Thus the County’s assessments are completely independent of the numbers of vehicles using the road! Furthermore, Highway 1 does not meet the basic requirements for applying the method! Use of MMLOS on Highway 1 is entirely fraudulent. Nevertheless, the County has used this inapplicable scheme in project EIRs (the current Rancho Canada Village [project approved but in litigation initiated by CVA] and Val Verde Rd. projects), despite CVA’s explicit and adamant objections.

Time periods for analysis: ADT – 24 hours; PTSF and MMLOS – 1 hour during peak traffic.

County traffic impact criteria are applied in two ways simultaneously on two-lane Carmel Valley Road. The term “threshold” can be used in both.

For the older ADT method, “threshold” refers to a specific volume (count) of vehicle trips per day, different for each road segment, published first for the Carmel Valley Master Plan (CVMP) in about 1991.


For PTSF, which appears for the first time in the 2010 CVMP, the numbers of vehicle trips per hour at peak traffic times are, as indicated above, converted to percentages (PTSF values), and then the resulting percentage is assigned a letter grade (A-F, as in school grades) called “level of service” or LOS, with the boundary between D and E (i.e., at PTSF = 85%) being the “threshold” of environmental significance. In Carmel Valley, both ADT and PTSF thresholds must be respected (with ADT below the CVMP specification, and PTSF below LOS E), with failure to fall below threshold resulting in a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors.

LOS grades also are used in MMLOS assessments, but this is actually irrelevant; as indicated above, the use of MMLOS on Highway 1 is fraudulent. (This is readily demonstrable, and is discussed and explained in considerable detail in CVA comments to the County on the Rancho Canada and Via Verde EIRs.) The County has given, to the segment of Highway 1 most relevant to Carmel Valley concerns, an outrageous and indefensible LOS grade of “LOS C”, based on its MMLOS “analysis”. Among other things, the MMLOS “analysis” depends only on a pair of the roadway’s design characteristics, and not at all on the volume of traffic!  All other assessments of that segment for many years have been LOS F, i.e., traffic exceeds the capacity of the road segment. The pre-MMLOS evaluations have been based on PTSF analyses of the single southbound lane.

LOS F means traffic exceeds road capacity; not even one vehicle trip is to be added during peak hour.

Analysis of 2014 Monitoring and Report of Traffic on Carmel Valley Road

by CVA Traffic Chair
Dr. Tim Sanders:

The January 29, 2015 CVA Bulletin carried a statement that CVA had presented to the County Board of Supervisors in response to the 2014 annual County report on Carmel Valley Road (CVR). Some additional details might be useful to Traffic! Carmel Valley residents. Four of the five two-lane segments of CVR between Esquiline Road and Rancho San Carlos Road are near the traffic volume limits set for them in the Carmel Valley Master Plan (CVMP); for easy reference, the five are numbered

3.      Esquiline to Ford
4.      Ford to Laureles Grade
5.      Laureles Grade to Robinson Canyon
6.      Robinson Canyon to Schulte
7.      Schulte to Rancho San Carlos.

Segments 3, 4, 6 and 7 were the principal subject of the CVA statement.

These are the heart of Carmel Valley Road, and play a major role in the Master Plan and its history.

Roughly 35 years ago a number of foresighted and determined Valley residents (members of the original CVA), in order to protect the Valley’s rural character, composed a master plan covering the area from the eastern edge of the Village to Highway 1, ridge to ridge. With the aim of preventing suburban- and urban-style traffic congestion, the master plan created a process for establishing traffic standards on CVR. By 1991 a firm set of standards was in place, and the CVMP requirement that CVR traffic levels be monitored and reported annually was fully implemented. Last week’s Bulletin responded to the most recent of these County monitoring reports.

What we often want to know from the reports is, “How much more traffic can CVR tolerate until Environmental Impact Reports must show significant environmental impacts?” For a variety of reasons there is no simple and fixed answer, but we can make reasonable rough estimates based on existing policies and data. Our initial challenge is to insure that existing policies are interpreted fairly and are fully enforced, and that real data is respected. Toward that end we examine relevant parts of the 2014 report.

In the table that follows, the first three columns are the same as those in the previous CVA Weekly Bulletin, and the fourth column shows the number of vehicle trips per day that, if added, would cause the segment’s traffic to exceed its threshold of acceptability or of significant environmental impact. The final two columns show the relevant thresholds themselves as published in the Carmel Valley Master Plan, and the measurements of 2014 daily traffic volumes. The first four rows represent data collected in June of 2014 on relevant CVR segments (3,4,6,7), and the final four rows are for October on the same segments; the only segments considered relevant are those that have a reasonable likelihood of undergoing significant environmental impacts from potential new development.

Segment Date Measured % of Threshold Trips/Day Below Threshold Threshold (trips/day) 2014 Volume (trips/day)
3 20-Jun 98.9 101 9,065  8,964
4 20-Jun 98.6 168 11,600 11,432
6 20-Jun 94.6 831 15,490 14,659
7 20-Jun 98.6 233 16,340 16,107
3 29-Oct 93.0 633 9,065  8,432
4 30-Oct 98.1 216 11,600 11,384
6 30-Oct 94.7 818 15,490 14,672
7 30-Oct 98.7 210 16,340 16,130

The boldface underlined numbers in the table are the smaller values of “trips below threshold” for each segment; these are the additional traffic volumes allowed before the impacts are considered environmentally significant. Thus segment 3 would tolerate 101 new trips per day, segment 4 would tolerate 168, 5 would tolerate 818, and 7 would tolerate 210.

Typically a residential unit adds about 10 trips per day, so dividing by 10 gives the approximate number of residential units contributing directly to each segment; therefore the tolerable number of new residential units contributing traffic would be about 10 for segment 3, about 17 for segment 4, about 82 for segment 6 and about 21 for segment 7.

Since any new units generating traffic on Carmel Valley Road would contribute their traffic to several segments, the smaller tolerances are the more relevant ones; a good guess probably is that roughly 20 new residential units, or the equivalent, would formally yield a permanent adverse environmental impact on the two-lane portion of Carmel Valley Road.

Another, more complex, type of measurement called “percent time spent following” (PTSF) also is monitored and reported. It shows that segments 6 and 7 already have significant adverse environmental impacts from traffic imposed earlier. The threshold of significance for these segments is a PTSF of 85.0 on a sale of 100, and segments 6 and 7 have PTSF values of 86.0 and 89.3 respectively. By this measure, there is no available tolerance for additional traffic volume on segments 6 and 7 according to the CVMP.

Carmel Valley residents must now decide how they will respond to these circumstances in order to sustain the rural character of Carmel Valley Road and of the Valley itself, and they must now make their determination known to County decision makers. The CVMP is not self-enforcing!

Land Use

Below are links to Carmel Valley area planning applications
listed on the County website:

Active Minor Applications

Active Planning Applications

Applications Set for Hearing

Approved Applications

Carmel Valley Ranch Equestrian Center:

Planning Commission Rules Study Necessary

On Wednesday, March 12, the Monterey County Planning Commission unanimously accepted CVA's arguments that the County should prepare an initial study to look at the impacts of the proposed equestrian center at Carmel Valley Ranch. The commissioners asked good questions -- what is there now, what is proposed, what would happen in the future in light of the approved 12-lot subdivision. County staff was not able to answer some important questions, and gave conflicting responses to others. The commission rejected the staff's recommendation to approve the project on a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption.
Molly Erickson represented CVA as counsel, and President Pris Walton and board member Eric Sand spoke in support of CVA's position. Molly and Pris had sent in correspondence prior to the commission meeting. Board member Rick Manning also attended. (Carmel Valley Ranch was represented by attorney Tony Lombardo and general manager Simon Snellgrove.) The commission's action is consistent with the Land Use Advisory Committee's unanimous concerns about the project.
Next step: the County will prepare an initial study that is based on Appendix G of the CEQA guidelines. 

3705 Rio Road:

The proposal by Foothill Partners to build a commercial retail development on approximately 3.8 acres of land located at 3705 Rio Road within the County of Monterey's Carmel Valley Master Plan Area has been withdrawn.

Our understanding is the the property, which is located in the 100 year flood plain, has been purchased by a local person with the intent of building condominiums or apartments. We'll keep you informed as we learn more.

September Ranch:
September Ranch

September Ranch, now renamed and advertised as ONE Carmel, is moving through Phase 1 of its development as a residential community.  According to the local manager, the project is close to clearing all of almost 200 conditions imposed by the County and has applied for a grading permit to start roadwork and prepare home sites for sale.

Phase 1 includes 33 residential lots and the construction of on-site affordable housing units, located on the eastern side of the ranch.  The plan is to sell lots to individual buyers for market rate homes.  The main entrance to the development will be directly across from Brookdale Drive, and Carmel Valley Road will be widened along the frontage of the ranch to add a middle turning lane like other segments of the road.

The red stakes that recently appeared in the ranch pasture are part of the grading plan.  On timing, the manager estimates that it will take about a year of work before any lots are ready for sale.  Funding for the project is from investors in DL Holdings Group Limited, a company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. 

Project Map as Currently Proposed

Palo Corona/Rancho Cañada Park Expansion:
Dogs & Camper

The acquisition of the former Rancho Cañada golf course for protection by the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District securess water for wildlife, helps prevent flooding, and provides new opportunities for recreation.

The land, which includes a mile of river frontage, absorbs water when the river runs high, protecting downstream neighborhoods from flooding. It is home to numerous threatened and endangered species, including steelhead, red-legged frogs, and tri-colored blackbirds. And it is part of a network of protected land stretching south 150 miles from Carmel to San Luis Obispo.

The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District has moved its headquarters to the former golf course and oversees its restoration. A network of trails provides access to the river and connects to the parklands accross the river. The district and the local Santa Lucia Conservancy plan an outdoor classroom and environmental education programs for visitors and school groups.

Also important for the water-starved Monterey Peninsula, public ownership allows water formerly used for irrigation is returned to the river, protecting native steelhead by stabilizing flows downstream.

The existing clubhouse serves as Palo Corona’s and the district’s headquarters, provides offices for like-minded non-profits, space that can serve as an command center during fire and flood emergencies, banquet rooms to host events like weddings, and meeting space for our community’s civic organizations.

The Rancho Cañada Unit’s trails will connect with the existing Southbank Trail, may provide access to the Big Sur Land Trust’s Odello East (formerly Mr. Eastwood’s farm, immediately east of Highway 1), and Palo Corona’s units which the district calls the "Front Ranch" and “Back Country.”
The back country parcel appeared unchanged, with existing trials and some added camping opportunities. 

A Message from MPRPD General Manager, Rafael Payan, recieved February 22, 2018:

MPRPD recently received, signed, and submitted the financial grant-related agreements to the respective State agencies that generously awarded us funding for the acquisition of the Rancho Cañada property.

Each grant's purpose and intent includes: acquiring the Rancho Cañada property; substantially reclaiming, restoring and sustaining the site as native habitat; and providing compatible environmental education and passive recreation opportunities that minimize or eliminate potential negative impacts to the site's soils, plants, animals, and water features. A key goal with respect to this property's acquisition is to reintroduce common, threatened, and endangered native flora and fauna. 

Several uses that have been explored are unfortunately incompatible with the property's and grants' intended purposes. Activities that may inevitably or unavoidably result in the repeated trampling of restored habitat, and/or disturbance of extant and reintroduced native flora and fauna will not be allowed. To further this goal, MPRPD is carefully identifying trail corridors geared to keeping people on-trail.

Link to Maps of Proposals (revised to reflect changes):

Rancho Canada Clubhouse Area

Rancho Canada Unit

Front Country Unit

Back Country Unit

More information at

Partners on the project included the Santa Lucia Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. [From Trust for Public Land, photo by Carmel Realty]

Carmel Canine Center:
Dogs & Camper

On Tuesday October 27th, 2015, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to overturn the earlier decision of the Monterey County Planning Commission,  refused to certify and approve the EIR for the proposed Carmel Canine Sports Center in the Quail neighborhood. On an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision brought by Friends of Quail and Quail Lodge and supported by CVA, the Board of Supervisors voted 5 to 0 to uphold the appeal and reject the project entitlements.

We want to thank the Monterey Country Board of Supervisors for making the right choice, and for being responsive to the clear opposition expressed by the overwhelming majority of those Carmel Valley residents who spoke on the issue.

This win came only because we all worked together as a community on behalf of our shared vision for Carmel Valley. 

Property Adjacent to Carmel Middle School
The vacant field on the west side of the middle school, previously proposed for affordable housing, has been purchased by the Carmel Unified School District. We understand that atheletic fields are proposed for the property.

There is a partially completed flood control trench on the east side of the property, which was intended to drain flood waters comming downfrom the Rio Vista into the river, preventing flooding of properties to the south of Carmel Valley Road. Flooding from Rio Vista in the mid '90s caused severe damage to properties along Rio Road, including the Crossroads and Mission Fields.

Hilltop Ranch Special Event Center

After Appeals by CVA and Neighbors,
The Planning Commission Reverses the Hilltop Ranch 
"Administrative Interpretation" and Hilltop Sues the County

On July 26, 2017, the planning commission voted 7-0, to overturn the administrative interpretation that allowed Hilltop Ranch to have marketing events on site. Hilltop appealed to the Montery County Board of Supervisors, and on November 14, 2017, after testimony from CVA and neighbors, the supervisors upheld the Planning Commission's decision, voting 4-1.

Commissioners Keith Vandevere and Martha Diehl were spot on, as usual, with their questions and comments. Commissioner Vandevere made the motion to overturn the administrator's ruling. We should be very grateful that Supervisor Adams has kept them in these positions. They are terrific representatives for District 5. 

In addition to lawyers Molly Erickson (for CVA) and Anthony Lombardo (for neighbors near Hilltop), about 20 people showed up to speak in favor of overturning the decision. Richard Rosenthal, also an area land use lawyer, came and spoke as well. 

Another key argument was that this interpretation essentially applies to anyone with a vineyard on their property anywhere in the unincorporated County. You too could have weddings nearby if you live near someone's vineyard.    

It was a good opportunity to educate the commissioners on how these venues affect the neighbors and how often they get out of hand.   

The General Plan, in which CVA was integrally involved, provids three specific zoning laws that directly fly in the face of what Hilltop wants to do and is already doing in a residential neighborhood. Another influencing fact was that this "interpretation" would allow anyone with a vineyard in the whole of the unincorporated county to have "events" in Low Density Residential zones.
In January 2018 Hilltop Ranch sued the county, claiming that opponents (including CVA) waited too long to contest the administrator's interpretation and that neither the county supervisors nor the county planning commissioners had jurisdiction to hear the matter.  Hilltop Ranch withdrew its petition (its initial legal pleading) after the county objected.  Hilltop Ranch then filed an amended petition.  The county again objected.
On July 11, the Superior Court heard oral arguments on the county's demurrer and motion to strike Hilltop Ranch’s amended petition.  The court sustained the county's demurrer with leave to amend.  This means Hilltop Ranch got another opportunity to attempt to frame its legal claims in a new amended document. 

In August, Hilltop Ranch filed a third version of its initial pleading with the court.  In it Hilltop Ranch again argues that the county planning director’s “interpretation” became final for all purposes ten days after it was issued – even though the planning director gave it only to Hilltop Ranch, and not to anybody else.

Representatives for CVA and the neighbors have attended the court hearings and they continue to monitor the situation.
Reversal of the County Supervisors’ ruling, and the precedent set by it, would have an extremely negative impact on our valley!

Read the County's Notice to Dismiss

Summary of Our Appeal

What is the property that is the subject of the CVA appeal?

Hilltop Ranch LLC owns residential property in Carmel Valley in the Low Density Residential (LDR) zoning district. Hilltop Ranch made three applications in 2013, 2014 and 2016 seeking to get County permission to have special events at its vineyard, which apparently was planted in the early 2000s and is approximately three acres of the 10-acre LDR-zoned property. Each of the special events applications has been met with substantial opposition from the neighbors, CVA and the Carmel Valley Land Use Advisory Committee. The County has not approved any permits for the special event use.

What does the CVA appeal challenge?

Carl Holm wrote three communications to the Hilltop Ranch LLC's attorney in which Mr. Holm stated his opinion based on his "interpretations" that Hilltop Ranch can have special events. The three documents are an email dated February 11, 2016, a letter dated April 11, 2017, and a letter dated May 16, 2017, which CVA collectively refers to as "the Holm Letter." CVA has appealed the Holm Letter.

What is the harm caused by the Holm Letter?

The Holm Letter used a private process to allow special events uses every day of the year at the Hilltop Ranch site in the residential district. The public process was not followed. Other than the applicant, nobody got any advance notice of these three documents. The Holm Letter rewards the applicant for private lobbying and private meetings with Mr. Holm.

The Holm Letter penalizes everybody else, including:
  • Surrounding residences and property owners who based their land uses on the Low Density Residential zoning and not on a private deal they did not even know was available to them from Mr. Holm. They will permanently suffer the noise, traffic, glare, and other impacts of the special events.
  • Competitors in the Ag Wine Corridor Plan area in the Salinas Valley who have General Plan policies that allow special event uses.
  • Venues that have permits for their special events activities.
  • Everybody who drives Carmel Valley Road and is forced to endure the increased special events traffic.
Is the Holm Letter illegal?

Yes. It allows special events in a residential district where special events uses are not allowed by the zoning. It gives special uses for select private parties favored by Mr. Holm. It violates state laws and the County Code. It provides an incentive for everybody in the Low Density Residential (LDR) zone to plant a vineyard so they can have special events. It corrupts the public process. If allowed to stand, the Holm Letter will cause serious long term land use and environmental effects and will harm the public's trust in Monterey County government.

CVA Attorney Molly Erickson Letter to the Board of Supervisors
Detailing our Objections to Hilltop Ranch Special Events
(April 2017 letter)

Val Verde Units
Val Verde Drive
After CVA Members Testify,
Planning Commission Denies 31 Unit Val Verde Development

In December 2018, the developer applied for a new 41 unit project. We understand that it will include the original parcels on the west side of Val Verde Drive and land on the east side which previously belonged to the Carmel Presbetyrian Church. The project has been assigned to county planner Craig Smith and assigned file number PLN180559. We have heard nothing further at this point.

Expressing concern about the proposed development's non-compliance with County Development Evaluation System's affordable housing requirements, the planners voted 8 - 1 to deny the project and canceled a second scheduled hearing. We understand that the developer is considering an alternative proposal for the property.

CVA testified before the Planning Commission concerning the projects inconsistencies with the General Plan and submitted a 14-page letter outlining the defects of the project and the inconsistencies in the Final Environmental Impact Report.

Below are links to the Draft EIR and our comments. Among the points we make are:
  • The project doesn't meet the affordable housing requirements of the Carmel Valley Master Plan and the County General Plan.
  • The project exceeds the number of units allowed in Carmel Valley under the legal settlement agreed to by CVA and the County.
  • The completed project would add over 300 daily trips to already over capacity Highway One.
  • Thirty one families would be added to a high risk flooding area. The installation of a 6 foot flood wall would add risk to downstream residents and businesses.
  • There is no guarantee that the residents of the 31 units would not exceed the water demand assumed by the EIR.
  • The project would adversely impact the rural nature of the Carmel Valley. It will turn its existing rural character as an agricultural production site into an urban site. Keeping the site in agricultural production would adhere to CV Master Plan Policy CV-1.1 which would maintain the agricultural character of the area.
  • These lands are currently used by local organic farms and serve and maintain the rural character of the Carmel Valley. Converting these plots of land into 31 units does not maintain the rural character of the Carmel Valley.
The County planner is Bob Shubert, 
The project designation is Carmel Rio Road Subdivision (PLN140089).