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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Proposed development on former Fort Ord would cut down 4,400 native oaks

Ironically the project is called "Whispering Oaks"
June 2011

by Tom Moore

If things turn out as we hope before the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on June 14, when you read this you will still have a chance to influence what happens to the so-called "MST Whispering Oaks Business Park" on the former Fort Ord. Whispering Oaks was turned down twice by the Monterey County Planning Commission, but Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) appealed to the Board of Supervisors to overturn the Planning Commission's decision.

Currently, MST has two maintenance facilities: one in Salinas and one at Ryan Ranch in Monterey. The proposed business center would combine the Salinas and Monterey maintenance activities at a single location on the former Fort Ord.

Fort Ord OaksThese native oaks would be cut down if the Whispering Oaks development is approved.
Photo: Sandra Gray

So what's wrong with Whispering Oaks? (That is besides the fact that it will be a far cry from a "park" and the only aspect of oaks that will be left will be whispers). Here are a few defects of this proposed development:

• It requires the removal of 4,400 coast live oaks and would violate the County policy regarding oak woodlands.
• It requires rezoning 58 acres from open space to heavy commercial.
• It would lightly dismiss the County Planning Commission's unanimous rejection of the project.
• The Whispering Oaks site was never planned for MST or for re-development. The parcel has been zoned as Habitat Management or open space since 1995 and approved by the Fort Ord Reuse Authority as such in its 1997 Fort Ord Reuse Plan.
• The Fort Ord Reuse Plan contains an access corridor from 8th Street to the BLM lands. Today, the trail from the Marina Equestrian Center to the BLM lands fulfills that function. The project would sever the eastward greenway and trail between the Marina Equestrian Center and the 82 miles of trails on BLM open space.
• The development project drains value from the Marina Equestrian Center and hamstrings Marina's efforts to develop and capitalize on this intended multi-use park and trail hub.
• The proposed location would put heavy traffic and industry between Marina and CSUMB, further isolating CSUMB students and its campus from Marina.
• The development also includes a commercial business center which would compete with UC-MBEST, Marina Airport, and Ryan Ranch business centers, further slowing their development.
• Whispering Oaks would violate the General Plan for the City of Marina. Unfortunately, the proposed area is just outside of the current city limits.
• Alternate sites for the MST facility already exist. These sites don't require tree removal and already have utilities in place.

How to help

• Email your opinion to the Monterey County Supervisors at and copy .
• Send a copy to Representative Sam Farr at:
• Send a copy to State Senator Blakeslee at
• Write the Monterey Herald (200 words) at .
• Write the Monterey County Weekly at (can be longer than 200 words).
• Call the County Supervisors' offices. Ask to speak to them or ask the clerk to relay your opposition to them. Phone numbers are found at
• Get creative— what else can you do?

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