Caltrans blasts AG Cherry Avenue project

December 6, 2016

By KAREN VELIE

A proposed development of 51 homes on Cherry Avenue in Arroyo Grande is facing hurdles now that Caltrans has criticized the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

In a Nov. 30 letter, Caltrans criticizes city staff for not providing Caltrans copies of the draft and the final EIR reports for the project. Caltrans became aware of the failure after former city council candidate LeAnn Akins reached out to the state agency, according to Caltrans.

The final EIR found that the development would have no significant impacts on traffic.

However, Caltrans determined the final EIR is based on “flawed methodology.” The EIR does not accurately evaluate how the increase in traffic could impact the already clogged Highway 101 Fair Oaks off-ramp, according to a letter Caltrans sent the city on Nov. 30.

The analysis for the final EIR used methodology, “which among other deficiencies, does not capture actual ramp queuing movements or is appropriate for a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) level analysis,” the Caltrans letter says. “At this stage, with flawed methodology, full CEQA disclosures have not been made.”

Nevertheless, city staff is recommending the Arroyo Grande City Council approve the project at its next board meeting on Dec. 13, city officials said.

Because of the less then significant impact finding, Mangano Homes is not required to provide traffic mitigation. So, if the project is built and it creates significant traffic congestion, the costs of road work would likely fall on taxpayers rather than the developer.

In a similar battle between Caltrans and the city of Los Angeles, Caltrans succeeded in halting a project because of a faulty EIR. Caltrans found that the EIR for a skyscraper project in Hollywood “was not based on any credible analysis,” and could lead to traffic issues on Highway 101. City staff argued that while required to listen to Caltrans’ objections, they were not required to adopt them.

In May 2015, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant said the methodology the city used did not address Caltrans concerns and ignored the state agency’s objections.

“The city was not entitled to disagree with Caltrans,” Chalfant concluded.







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17 Comments

  1. Pelican1 says:

    His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
    Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane
    Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave
    So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave, oh!

    (-4) 6 Total Votes - 1 up - 5 down
  2. AGDUDE says:

    Me Thinks he smells a RaT… Pay to play.. .. End of story sports fans.. the old its prime farm land out the window it went.. My guess is ole Brown button was first in line..

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  3. Jorge Estrada says:

    Remember Smart Growth vs Urban Sprawl? After the new mitigation fees, building permits will cost let’s say $75,000 per house (taxed forever) and certainly no affordable housing, Urban Sprawl becomes a better distribution of public facilities. Smart Growth is glorified government housing when you consider what it costs for the privilege of being a property owner with an association fee, taxes, outrageous insurance premiums and a pile of regulations that oversee your cubical. With a water shortage why are we even entertaining this conversation, is there a plan to raise water rates to create new water on paper?

    (14) 20 Total Votes - 17 up - 3 down
  4. r0y says:

    While I think the project may be too dense for the area; is this not the same CalTrans that thought nothing of the off-/on-ramps at Brisco Road when WalMart was going in? How would that major commercial shopping center (two, actually) be any less impacted with traffic than this? Is the “flawed methodology” the “old way” CalTrans used to calculate things? I’m curious what THAT WalMart / Brisco Road EIR found…

    (10) 24 Total Votes - 17 up - 7 down
  5. Otis says:

    The following may be considered a tribute to LeeAnn Akins, who by her initiative CalTrans has addressed and denied the EIR on the development of this remaining jewel in the once quaint village of Arroyo Grande.

    The CalTrans’ position on the East Cherry specific plan EIR — approved by the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission — is the tip of the iceberg of a potential development disaster.. The plan should be modified if not rejected by the City Council. Why?

    The plan should separate the Japanese portion and the Council should immediately approve its implementation. The hotel proposal should be a total stand-alone consideration.
    The only area that should be addressed is the residential section where 51 high density homes are addressed.

    Where did this start – the seminal event as promoted by the developers? The July 8, 2014 Council hearing was the precedent for the present East Cherry plan. It coincidently held the Japanese hostage for their portion of the development.

    The July 8, 2014 Council review– controlled by past Mayor Tony Ferrara — was made under controversial circumstances prejudicing the Planning Commission’s (PC) consideration of the matter.

    https://calcoastnews.com/2014/…/ray-brings-boyfriend-political-fray/

    https://calcoastnews.com/…/arroyo-grande-commissioner-accused-conflict- interest/

    The density of the resident portion was fixed at that time, without the PC’s involvement or concurrence as documented in the above past CCN articles:

    Over two years have passed since the original presentation to the Council. It is therefore appropriate to rethink the density question of a 51 home tract and consider one with 34 homes, especially when considering the compelling EIR mitigation issues in the present plan as highlighted by the CalTrans’ position.

    A reduction of residences from 51 to 34 reduces the critical water and traffic impacts by 33%. A 34 home plan – or less — could ease if not eliminate the EIR mitigation issues – water and traffic – among others — in the present plan for 51 homes.

    There are significant changes in the escalation of the housing market and the growth of Arroyo Grande, and the South County area it serves since the Council’s review on July 8, 2014 that fixed the high density of the residential portion of the project.

    Citizens should attend the Council’s December 13th consideration of the matter. The Council should either modify or reject this plan. It is an insult on the once humble village that was so distinct in the over populated State of California.

    (15) 33 Total Votes - 24 up - 9 down
    • FreeAGCouncil.com says:

      C’mon … like the AG City Council could make any decent decision when Big Tony was all nervous on July 8 th knowing Little Steve Adams and McClish had just been caught in City Hall just days before. At That point Adams, Carmel and Ferrara and the cops were all that knew of the infamous July 3rd incident.
      Lest we forget..

      (7) 25 Total Votes - 16 up - 9 down
      • justice counts says:

        Summed up beautifully!

        (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down
      • surferdude says:

        I know I will never forget the look on the faces at the AG Chamber luncheon when Ferrara practically told us all to grab our phones and go to CCN to read all about the “not true Incident”
        Video footage, public resignations, and now Ferrara is off in Palm Springs with his new buddies.
        Arroyo Grande will never forget! Damn, that was fun!

        (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
      • doglover says:

        Wow!

        Caren Ray is coming back on the Council to save us all from ourselves!

        We can make a comic book out of her baggage and pop it in McClishes luggage!

        Babs Harmon is in for some fun now.

        (7) 25 Total Votes - 16 up - 9 down
  6. 1965buick says:

    This county is in a building frenzy. At some point it will end, and as stated the costs will fall on taxpayers.

    (16) 28 Total Votes - 22 up - 6 down
  7. agag1 says:

    The city is not following the residents, nor are they fooling CalTrans.
    Thank you Ms. Akins for smelling the rat and doing something about it.

    (34) 58 Total Votes - 46 up - 12 down
  8. Jorge Estrada says:

    Sounds like Caltrans is going to need more of the State monies to do their job. It is their job to build Highway infrastructure. Thankfully we did not pass Measure J, requiring new tax liabilities to fund the State. There is never enough and that is why Prop 13 was passed, the tax payer’s only tool to regulate property taxes and government waste. Waste mining WILL be next.

    (6) 28 Total Votes - 17 up - 11 down
    • just the facts says:

      Say a prayer for Prop 13! There is now a supermajority in the State Capitol. Both a supermajority in the Senate and Assembly that in all probability will go after Prop 13. So tighten your seat belt…it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

      (7) 19 Total Votes - 13 up - 6 down
    • easymoney says:

      Excellent points…
      Caltrans is just another bloated state agency that can not live within it’s means. It was supposed to receive all the gas tax and spend that on our roads, see any of that?
      If it were not for obama throwing federal “stimulus” money he did not have and borrowed on our childrens backs, our roads would be in even worse shape.
      How much of that was spent on other than the popular stretches of hwy 101 running through the county seat and the major cities. How about those stamped and hand painted off ramps…
      Yes, we all should very watchful on prop 13!!!

      (3) 17 Total Votes - 10 up - 7 down
  9. kayaknut says:

    Our chance to fix the Arroyo Grande city staff vanished with the election results. We’re stuck with McClish for a bit longer, 2 years and hopefully Harmon will be gone, followed by McClish.

    (22) 34 Total Votes - 28 up - 6 down
    • justice counts says:

      Pay no attention to that man (Staff) behind the curtain. Maybe we are beyond the rainbow. Wizard of OZ named after the author looked at a file cabinet that had a draw labeled o-z.

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down

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