NOP Comments for El Rancho San Benito Master Community Specific Plan

(CGF submitted the following comments for a massive project proposed in San Benito County that could affect Santa Clara County. -Brian)

February 2, 2009

Re: NOP Comments for El Rancho San Benito Master Community Specific Plan

Dear Mr. Henriques;

Please consider the following in preparation of the EIR for the El Rancho San Benito project:

· Effect on 500 year floods – it is foreseeable that flooding impacts will be considered by FEMA within the 500 year time frames. One can reasonably assume the constructed project will last at least 50 years, giving a 10% chance of a 500-year flood, and non-negligible chances of multiple 500-year floods. These impacts are not remote and speculative and therefore must be addressed.

· Hydromodification basin in flood plain – the EIR must address how it will function during flooding, when the current information about the project suggests the basin will itself be flooded during peak periods.

· Cumulative impacts of increased impervious surfaces not addressed by NPDES permits must themselves be addressed. Simple compliance with NPDES permits is insufficient to eliminate all cumulative impacts because NPDES permits contain exemptions for the size of storm event to be mitigated, cost of mitigation etc. See attached White Paper for more information.

· Cut and fill – should not assume that the need for cut and fill will occur simultaneously, addressing only the difference between the two. The EIR should assume the fill need will occur first, and track impact of needing the entire fill, and should assume the cut need will occur later and describe impact of disposing of the cut material

· The Amah-Mutsun Native American community should be consulted regarding areas of cultural significance.

· The EIR should address wetlands impacts as defined by either soils, standing water, or hydrophitic vegetation instead of requiring all three to be present. It is immaterial whether a Clean Water Act permit is necessary. All wetland impacts must be addressed regardless of whether the wetland is defined as part of the waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act.

· The EIR should address impacts from potential climate change, including potential reduced water availability.

· The EIR should consider alternatives where the equivalent development is dispersed within city limits in San BenitoCounty; within city limits in San Benito and Santa ClaraCounties; and within San Benito, Santa Clara, and MontereyCounties. There is no reason to limit alternative discussions to single areas that can accommodate equivalent amounts of growth; instead the growth can be dispersed.

· The EIR should discuss impacts from developing residential and non-residential uses at different periods, and mitigations that keep residential development from outpacing non-residential development until all the non-residential development is complete.

Please contact us if you have any questions.


Brian A. Schmidt

Legislative Advocate, Santa ClaraCounty

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