ITEM: PUBLIC HEARING

 

9. APPROVE SCOPE OF WORK AND AUTHORIZE CONTRACT WITH SOLE SOURCE PREPARER FOR COMPLETION OF AN EIR ON A WATER CREDIT TRANSFER PROGRAM

 

Meeting Date: March 17, 2003 Budgeted: No

 

Staff Contact: Henrietta Stern Program/Line Item No.: N/A

Cost Estimate: $95,000-$110,000 (DEIR)

 

General Counsel Approval: Has not yet reviewed

Committee Recommendation: The Administrative Committee reviewed this item at its March 11, 2003 meeting and did not make a recommendation, but did ask for additional information about the scope.

CEQA Compliance: N/A

 

 

SUMMARY: The Board will consider whether or not to retain Turnstone Consultants of San Francisco as a sole source preparer of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that evaluates the environmental effects associated with a water credit transfer program. This action is based on Board direction at its February 27, 2003 meeting. Specifically, the Board will consider the scope of work and fee schedule shown Exhibit 9-A for a not-to-exceed amount of $95,000 to $110,000. It is notable that this amount is for preparation only of a Draft EIR, and does not include an Initial Study (the EIR will incorporate Initial Study elements). This amount assumes extensive participation and text development by District staff regarding the water resources setting, water credit transfer history and data, description of the MPWMD conservation program, water use trends, description of water credit transfer program alternatives, and potential future water use credit transfers. The term of the contract is March 24, 2003 through September 30, 2003.

 

It is currently envisioned (subject to refinement) that the focused EIR would evaluate four alternatives, ranging from least to most restrictive, as follows:

 

Alt 1 = Rule 28 is reinstated with no change (assumed to be the No Project alternative if Ordinance No. 107 passes).

 

Alt 2 = Enact water credit transfer program as described in Ordinance 101.

 

Alt 3 = Enact water credit transfer program based on Ordinance 101 with the further restriction that only affordable housing as defined by the County of Monterey can be the recipient of a transfer. This alternative may also have a variations such as (a) documented water use must be available for the donor site in order for a transfer to be approved and/or (b) the set-aside should be 50% rather than the 35% shown in Ordinance No. 101.

 

Alt 4 = Eliminate water credit transfer program (assumed to be No Project if Ordinance No. 107 does not pass and no other action is taken by the Court or any other entity to change the existing situation).

 

In order to meet the September 2003 certification goal set by the Board on February 27, 2003, the following EIR major milestones must be met:

 

March 17, 2003--Authorize contract with consultant; begin work March 24, 2003

May 2003--Prepare administrative draft EIR for internal review

Early June 2003--Circulate public draft in for 45 days

Mid July 2003--Hold public hearings on draft EIR, comment period ends

August 2003--Respond to comments and prepare rough draft Final EIR for internal review

September 2003--Certify Final EIR

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends that the Board:

 

      Authorize the General Manager to retain Turnstone Consulting for a not-to-exceed amount of $95,000 to $110,000 pursuant to the scope of work and fee schedule shown as Exhibit 9-A.

      Provide additional guidance on program goals other than meeting the needs of workforce and affordable housing.

      Direct staff to initiate the CEQA process regarding preparation of an EIR.

 

Staff provided an update on the consultant proposal to the Administrative Committee at its March 11, 2003 meeting. The committee did not make a recommendation and asked for more clarifying information in the scope.

 

BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION: At its February 27, 2003 meeting, the Board directed staff to work with a sole source consultant to develop a scope of work for a focused EIR on the environmental impacts of having or not having a water credit transfer program. Completion of the Final EIR should occur no later than September 30, 2003. The EIR should analyze program goal sand determine whether the program is capable of meeting the goals. Included in the program goals should be water for community projects such as affordable or workforce housing. Affordable housing is defined in the MPWMD Rules & Regulations, and is shown as Exhibit 9-B. The EIR will be evaluated at the program level, except for applications received on or before a specified date prior to completion of the Draft EIR; these applications will be evaluated at the project level in the EIR. CEQA review of applications received after the specified date will tier off the Final EIR.

 

Regarding administrative practice, the Board also directed on February 27, 2003 that all applications for water credit transfer approval shall be considered by the Board for determination after the EIR is certified.

 

On March 4, 2003, staff discussed Board direction with Chairperson Henson, and began discussions with Turnstone Consulting of San Francisco at the direction of Chairperson Henson. Based on telephone and e-mail interaction, a rough scope of work was developed for presentation at the March 11, 2003 Administrative Committee meeting. This scope was refined based on committee comments and is shown as Exhibit 9-A. Turnstone is enthusiastic about the water credit transfer EIR program, but emphasized that it can achieve the project time line goals only if District staff develops several sections of text, provides historical data, and is responsible for CEQA noticing. Turnstone was recommended by and has worked successfully with District special counsel on environmental review projects. A firm profile is provided as Exhibit 9-C.

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