ABSTRACT: Selected sections of Environmental Setting, Impacts, and Mitigation Measures (4.0) related to LAND USE AND PLANNING (4.4) and PARKS AND RECREATION (4.5) are presented. Other sections which have less-than-significant levels of significant environmental impacts after mitigation, including AESTHETICS (4.1), BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES (4.2), CULTURAL RESOURCES (4.3) and TRAFFIC AND CIRCULATION (4.6), are not presented
4.0 ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING, IMPACTS, AND MITIGATION MEASURES
4.4 LAND USE AND PLANNING
This section analyzes the project’s land use effects, specifically its potential to conflict with those parts of applicable plans and zoning ordinances, including the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan land Use Element and Zoning Code, that are intended to avoid or minimize potential environmental impacts…The analysis contained in this section has also been revised and updated to reflect the Superior Court’s determination regarding the 2005 FEIR.
Although the Superior Court confirmed that the City acted within its discretionary in terms of determining project consistency, the Court also ruled that the project site is considered parkland. Accordingly, this RDEIR has been updated to accurately reflect the parkland status of the parcel to ensure consistency with the Court’s ruling.
The 1.252-acre project site, which is accessible from Hatton Road, is entirely within the Mission Trail Nature Preserve in the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Flanders Mansion Property is considered an integral part Mission Trail Nature Preserve because it provides park benefits and also facilities the use of other areas of the 35-acre preserve. Although access to the Flanders Mansion building has been limited, the property and the building are recognized as an important component of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve. According to the General Plan Land Use Map, the project site is designated as Open Space/Recreation/Cultural (see Figure 4.4-1). According to Title 17 of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea Municipal Code, the project site is zoned P-2, Improved Parklands. The remaining 33.74-acres of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve are zoned P-1, Natural Parklands and Preserves. No physical boundaries separate the Flanders Mansion Property from the remaining portion of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve. The grounds of the Flanders Mansion Property are directly accessible from several trails within the Preserve and it is easily accessed by the general public.
The Flanders Mansion Property is entirely surrounded by the Mission Trail Nature Preserve. Land uses immediately adjacent to the Mission Trail Nature Preserve include single-family residential neighborhoods zoned R-1 and R-1-C-20 located within the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea to the west. A single-family residential neighborhood, within the jurisdiction of Monterey County, known as Hatton Fields, is located to the east. The Carmel Mission is located immediately south of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve across Rio Road. Land uses to the north consist of predominately single family residential neighborhoods.
Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan. The purpose of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan is to 1) establish and maintain long-range goals for the preservation and use of Mission Trail Nature Preserve; and 2) guide the City in its decision making process concerning the management of Mission Trail Nature Preserve. According to the Master Plan, the Preserve consists of approximately 35-acres of land classified as Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA) according to 30107.5 of the California Coastal Act of 1976, as amended. 30107.5 defines ESHA as “any area in which plant or animal life or their habitats are either rare or especially valuable because of their special nature or role in an ecosystem and which could be easily disturbed or degraded by human activities….” The City’s adopted General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan recognizes that the Flanders Mansion site in not within ESHA, but is within an area designated as an ESHA buffer (see Figure 4.4-2).
The Master Plan identifies several goals, objectives and policies consistent with the City’s adopted General Plan. According to the Master Plan, the Flanders Mansion is an intrinsic part of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve and the surrounding area...
Thresholds of Significance
In accordance with CEQA Guidelines, a project impact would be considered significant if the project would:
• Physically divide an established community;
• Conflict with any applicable land use plan, policy, or regulation of an agency with jurisdiction over the project (including, but not limited to the general plan, specific plan, local coastal program, or zoning ordinance) adopted for the purpose of avoiding or mitigating an environmental effect;
• Conflict with any applicable habitat conservation plan or natural community conservation plan; or
• Displace substantial numbers of existing housing or people, necessitating the construction of replacement housing elsewhere.
Impacts and Mitigation
The sale of the Flanders Mansion Property may result in potential land use conflicts with several General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan goals, objectives, and policies that are intended to avoid impacts to parkland and ensure that park benefits are maximized and preserved. The project site is considered parkland. This RDEIR, consistent with the analysis contained in the 2005 DEIR and FEIR, has determined that the project would result in the permanent loss of parkland and associated park benefits. (see Section 4.6 Parks and Recreation). This is identified as an unavoidable impact that is locally significant to the Mission Trail Nature Preserve.
As identified in the 2005 DEIR and FEIR, the proposed project may conflict with the following goals, objectives and policies: P5-26, P5-139, P5-107, P6-8, P7-3, O5-21, O5-32, O5-41, G5-6, G5-8 and G5-13. These goals, objectives and policies are intended to promote public use of parklands, provide enhances trail access within the Mission Trail Nature Preserve, provide public access to City-owned parks, preserve open-space and parks, preserve the aesthetic characteristics of the City, and preserve the forested and tranquil character of Mission Trail Nature Preserve. Implementation of the proposed project would result is the permanent loss of parkland and associated park benefits. The permanent loss of parkland is considered a significance and unavoidable impact. The permanent loss of parkland would conflict with goals, objectives and policies intended on avoiding and/or minimizing impacts to parkland...
Although the City’s General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan recognizes that the City may decide to divest itself of the Flanders Mansion property, sale of the Mansion would result in a significant and unavoidable impact due to the loss of parkland and associated park benefits. This impact would result in potential land use conflicts with several policies that are intended to avoid impacts to parkland. While mitigation measures have been incorporated into this RDEIR to ensure potential project-related impacts are minimized, the permanent loss of parkland would nevertheless represent a significant and unavoidable impact that would conflict with policies that are intended to avoid and/or minimize potential impacts to parkland.
Sale of the Flanders Mansion Property would result in the permanent loss of parkland and therefore has the potential to conflict with several goals, objectives and policies identified in the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan intended on minimizing impacts to parkland and promoting public use of publically owned parkland. Specifically, the proposed project would conflict with the following goals and policies: G5-6, O5-21, P5-46, and P5-107. This is considered a potentially significant that cannot be reduced to a less-than-significant level.
4.5 PARKS AND RECREATION
This section analyzes the project’s impacts to recreation facilities, specifically the project’s impact due to loss of trail access to the surrounding Mission Trail Nature Preserve, as well as impacts related to the loss of parkland and park benefits associated with the Flanders Mansion Property. This section also addresses impacts to the integrity of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve due to the sale of parkland.
The City maintains nine designated parks encompassing 65.5 acres or 10.25% of the total City land area. The City also provides forested open space along the margins of most streets throughout the residential district forming attractive space for daily walks for its residents and visitors. As a popular visitor destination, The City is recognized for its abundance of recreational and cultural amenities. Throughout the year the City either hosts or supports events providing recreational opportunities to all age groups and a wide variety of interests.
The Flanders Mansion Property is located within the boundaries of, and surrounded by, the largest of the City’s parks: the 35-acre Mission Trail Nature Preserve. The Mission Trail Nature Preserve was acquired by the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea is 1971. Most of it was zoned as passive park (P-1). The area around Flanders Mansion was zoned Improved Parkland (P-2), parkland with existing improvements/buildings. In the Coastal Land Use Plan, the City describes the Mission Trail Nature Preserve as having four planning units: 1) Martin Road parcel, 2) Park Proper, 3) Flanders Mansion/Arboretum and 4) Outlet Meadow. Each designation recognizes different physiographic and/or biological resources found in the preserve. Most of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA). The project site (the Flanders Mansion Property) is not a designated ESHA.
Mission Trail Nature Preserve is open to the public for passive recreational use. There are five entrances to the park: Mountain View Avenue, Rio Road, 11th Avenue, Martin Road and Hatton Road. These entrances lead to a series of trails meandering throughout the Preserve. Figure 4.5-1 shows the existing Mission Trail Nature Preserve trail system surrounding the Flanders Mansion Property. This entire series of trails exceeds three miles in length and is intended for foot traffic only. The boundary between the Flanders Mansion Property and the remainder of the park is unfenced and park users can freely pass through the Mansion Property to access surrounding parkland areas, including the Lester Rowntree Arboretum. Some trail connections are possible only by passing through the Mansion Property. Approximately 0.04 acres of the Arboretum is located within the boundaries of the project site. The Arboretum was created to provide a quiet nature study area where native California trees, shrubs and plants are grown for exhibition and study and displayed to enhance the natural beauty of the area.
City of Carmel-by-the-Sea General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan. The City of Carmel-by the-Sea General Plan provides policies for protection of recreational facilities and parks/open space. The following policies from the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea General Plan are applicable to the project site:
G5-3 Protect, conserve and enhance the unique natural beauty and irreplaceable natural resources of Carmel and its sphere of influence, including its biological resources, water resources, and scenic routes and corridors.
G5-4 Preserve and enhance the City’s legacy of an urbanized forest of predominately Monterey Pine, Coast Live Oak and Monterey Cypress.
G5-6 Preserve and acquire open space and parks.
O5-21 Optimize public use of City parks.
P5-46 Preserve and protect areas within the City’s jurisdiction which due to their outstanding aesthetic quality, historical value, wildlife habitats or scenic viewsheds, should be maintained in permanent open space to enhance the quality of life. Such acquired areas would be left in a natural state or restored for aesthetic and/or wildlife purposes.
P5-105 Implement the recommendations of all existing Master Plans considering prioritized needs and available funding:
-Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan
-Shoreline Management Plan
-Forest Hill Park Master Plan
P5-107 Provide for public access and public enjoyment of City parks and open space.
P5-108 Provide and maintain informal trails if there is public demand.
Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan. The Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan was approved by the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea Forest and Beach Commission and adopted by the City Council in 1979. This document was updated as part of the Coastal Land Use Plan. The purpose of the Master Plan is twofold:
1. To establish and maintain long-range goals for preservation and use of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve.
2. To guide the City in its decision making process concerning the management of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve.
The Master Plan sometimes calls the Flanders Mansion Property “Outlands” as is referenced as such in Master Plan policies. The following policies from the Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan are applicable to the site:
P5-139 Provide maximum pubic access to and within Mission Trail Nature Preserve that is easy to maintain and protects environmental resources.
P5-141 If retained by the City, preserve the Outlands property and grounds at Mission Trail Nature Preserve consistent with its status as a nationally registered historical resource.
P5-142 If retained by the City, utilize the Outlands property at Mission
Trail Nature Preserve in a manner beneficial to the residents of Carmel-by-the-Sea while minimizing its expense to the City.
P5-143 If retained by the City, support uses at the Outlands property that are compatible with its location in Mission Trail Nature Preserve and adjacent to the Rowntree Native Plant Garden and Hatton Road neighborhood.
G5-8 Preserve the forested tranquil atmosphere of Mission Trail Nature Preserve.
P5-124 Consider removal of both intentionally introduced plants and
invasives by instituting an annual program through joint efforts of contract workers and volunteers.
O5-32 Provide reasonable low-impact uses of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve for the enjoyment of its natural surroundings and plant and wildlife inhabitants.
O5-33 Maintain the Rowntree Native Plant Garden within Mission Trail Nature Preserve as an area where the general public can view and study native California plants and trees. The goal is that the knowledge gained will lead to an expanded use of California native plants in private landscapes.
Thresholds of Significance
In accordance with CEQA Guidelines, a project impact would be considered if the project would:
• Increase the use of existing neighborhood and regional parks or other recreational facilities such that substantial physical deterioration of the facility would occur or be accelerated; or
• Include recreational facilities or require the construction or expansion of recreational facilities which might have an adverse physical effect on the environment
Impacts and Mitigation
The sale of the Flanders Mansion Property is anticipated to result in direct impacts related to the loss of parkland and park benefits associated with the Property. For the purposes of the following analysis, this RDEIR assumes that the sale of publically-owned parkland would directly result in the loss of public access to parkland. This would therefore represent a loss of parkland that is currently accessible to the public. This is considered a direct impact resulting in a change in ownership…For the purpose of this analysis, an impact would be considered potentially significant if it would result in the loss of an area of parkland that provides a wide variety of park benefits and that is integrated into the Mission Trail Nature Preserve in a manner that facilities or substantially enhances the use and enjoyment of other areas of the Preserve.
The Flanders Mansion Property provides a convenient place for the public to access adjacent parkland and the Arboretum for recreational activities. The boundary between Flanders Mansion and Mission Trail Nature Preserve is unfenced and park users can freely access the site. As a result, the property grounds are routinely used by the general public for passive recreational purposes. While access to the building has generally been limited, access to the exterior grounds is currently unrestricted. A change in ownership of the Flanders Mansion Property while not directly affecting the parkland zoning designation, would result in the permanent loss of access to the site by the general public. In addition, the project would directly impact the Lester Rowntree Arboretum, a portion which is located on the property (0.04 acres).
Implementation of the proposed project would preclude future recreational use of the property and would directly result in the loss of park benefits associated with the property. Although the Flanders Mansion and property is not dedicated exclusively for park purposes, the site is still considered parkland based on 1) its historic use by the public, 2) its zoning designation, and 3) the Superior Court’s determination that the site is considered parkland as a matter of law. While the site would continue to retain its existing zoning designation as P-2 (Improved Parkland), its zoning designation as parkland would have only a minimal value because the public would be unable to derive park benefits from the Property. It should be noted, however, that the zoning designation does limit future uses and development of the property. Sale of the property would effectively result in the permanent loss of parkland located within the Mission Trail Nature Preserve. Although the sale of the Flanders Mansion Property would represent a relatively small reduction in the total amount of parkland (2% of all parkland) in the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the proposed project would significantly impact the Mission Trail Nature Preserve by directly impacting the cohesive nature of the Preserve.
Based on the CEQA standards of significance, the potential loss of 1.252 acres of parkland would not necessarily be considered a significant impact given the large amount of other parks and recreational opportunities within the City. For the purposes of this RDEIR, however, a change in ownership would directly impact the integrity of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve by eliminating access to and certain views of a portion of the park currently used by park visitors. Moreover, the Flanders Mansion and property are recognized in the Mission Trail Nature Preserve Master Plan as being an integral component of the Preserve. The sale of the Flanders Mansion to a private person or organization would remove 1.252 acres of parkland currently accessible by the public from the surrounding park setting. The sale of the Flanders Mansion is considered significant due to 1) the property’s location entirely within the Mission Trail Nature Preserve; 2) the property’s role in providing park benefits; 3) the presence of the Flanders Mansion, which adds significantly to the public experience of the park; and 4) the proximity of the park to the Lester Rowntree Arboretum
Sale of the Flanders Mansion Property would result in the loss locally significant parkland that is considered an integral component of the Mission Trail Nature Preserve. Since this loss of parkland is locally significant, this is considered a significant unavoidable impact that can not be reduced to a less-than-significant level.