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June 7-13, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley


RP Water Woes

Rohnert Park officials came up dry as far as a judge's recent ruling that its 2005 water supply assessment report (which cost more than $340,000 to produce) doesn't satisfy state requirements. The city must prove it has a 20-year supply of water to allow developers to build a proposed 3,600 new eastside homes over the next 20 years. After Rohnert Park's City Council approved the water-supply assessment despite serious objections, the Penngrove-based OWL Foundation filed a lawsuit. The judge ruled that this new law requires a municipality to look at its entire water basin, not just within city limits, says OWL president H. R. Downs. "This is a historic ruling," Downs says. "It will affect the entire state of California." But Rohnert Park city manager Stephen Donley says the wording of the legislation is unclear. "We felt we not only met the state requirements but exceeded them; obviously, we will have to clarify that." He's waiting for written directions from the judge on how to comply with the law. OWL charges that the basin is being pumped faster than it is being replenished by rainfall, creating a condition known as "overdraft." The city disagrees. The Sonoma County Water Agency, U.S.G.S. and a number of cities are collaborating on a basin-wide groundwater study, but that's expected to take another four years.

Coastal Concerns

The Sebastopol-based nonprofit Coastwalk urges North Bay residents concerned about coastal preservation and access to attend the next meeting of the California Coastal Commission on Wednesday, June 14, in Santa Rosa. Coastwalk (707.829.6689; www.coastwalk.org) is joining the Sierra Club and other groups in a last-ditch attempt to stop a precedent-setting decision allowing the Pebble Beach Company to chop down 17,000 Monterey pines to make way for a golf course and other extensive development in Del Monte Forest in Monterey County. The project may not be in the North Bay, but it's crucial that it be stopped, says Coastwalk spokeswoman Julie Sicaud. "If the coastal commission starts allowing large-scale development and cutting down trees so the public is again squeezed out, as they already are in many areas of the coast, what will they allow to happen next?" Sicaud asks rhetorically. Despite strong opposition, the Monterey Board of Supervisors approved an environmental impact report for the project. The coastal commission needs to give final approval, Sicaud says, so it's important opponents attend this meeting (9am, Fountain Grove Inn, 101 Fountain Grove Parkway, Santa Rosa). The Del Monte Forest is legally defined as an environmentally sensitive habitat area, and that protection should not be lifted, Sicaud says. "It's important to keep [the forest] intact for a number of reasons, rather than just another golf course."


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