SAND CITY (CBS SF) — A mega-development in Monterey County that is opposed by environmental groups is facing a critical vote this week.
Monterey Bay Shores Resort Hotel would be built in Sand City. Developers call it a “world class eco-resort” but environmentalists are casting a wary eye on plans to turn picturesque dunes on the Monterey Bay into a 340-room hotel and condo complex.
Blake Matheson with the Monterey Audubon said of the proposed resort: “It certainly will change the face of the Monterey Bay shore.”
In 2014, the California Coastal Commission approved the Monterey Bay Shores Hotel Resort, but with conditions having to do with two federally threatened species that live in the area.
Now, after more than two decades in the pipeline, the only things standing in the way are two tiny and fragile species: The Western Snowy Plover which nests in the sand dunes and the Smith’s blue butterfly which thrives on the buckwheat plants that grow there.
“It would disrupt their breeding behavior,” Matheson said, explaining that such an action is defined as “take” under the Endangered Species Act and isn’t allowed except under certain special circumstances.
Groups including the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club say the species could be wiped out.
Environmentalists argue that the developer hasn’t addressed how he would improve habitats.
Sand City approved the project in 1998 and wants it to improve the city’s image and tax base.
But Sand City administrator Todd Bodem denies that there are threatened habitats to approve.
Bodem said, “From my understanding, there is no Snowy Plover on the project site itself.”
While camera crews were not allowed on the private property, it was easy to find Snowy Plovers near the proposed site. A Fish and Wildlife Department crew was out documenting Smith’s blue butterfly on state land next to the proposed development site.
But the mayor of Sand City is confident that the project will move forward and even expects grading at the site to start by next September.