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Carmelites Form Flanders Foundation and Pursue Their Goals - A Short History

Concerned Carmel residents gathered together in May, 1998 in an effort to preserve intact the Mission Trail Nature Preserve, Carmel's largest park, and its historic Flanders Mansion, a National Register Property, for current and future community use.  Its intent has been to raise funds to restore and maintain this parkland in perpetuity.

To this end, Flanders supporters organized as a formal group and obtained a non-profit, 501(c)3 Status in 1999.  It also obtained a grant to develop a business plan prepared by professionals, which demonstrated how the Foundation could raise the funds, as well as maintain and operate the property for the community's benefit.  In spite of these efforts, in December 1999, the Carmel City Council on a 3-2 vote, decided to sell the parkland in spite of major community support for keeping the property as public parkland.

Since 2000, the city has not changed its stance on a sale.  In 2004, the city sought to approve a realtor to market the property.  It endeavored to avoid doing an Environmental Impact Report on the ramifications of a sale on the park as a whole, as well as on the mansion property designated for sale.  The Foundation sought legal assistance to inform the city of its obligations and requirements under the law.  The city grudgingly did the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that year.  In the process, it tried to claim that the Flanders property/parkland WAS NOT parkland, in spite of volumes of city documentation to the contrary.  The city took this insupportable position because, if it agreed that the property was parkland, then by law there must be a vote of the residents in order to sell.  The council believed that it would lose such an election.

The Foundation's lawyers prepared a suit in 2005, rejecting the city's claim that the property was not parkland.  The lawsuit contended that the General Plan/Local Coastal Plan, did not support the sale of this parkland and that the city was violating its own laws by failing to maintain the historic mansion, and permitting demolition by neglect.  The lawsuit also contended that the city had not complied with state laws, the California Environmental Quality Act and the Surplus Lands Act.  In a great victory, the court ruled in favor of the Flanders Foundation.

In spite of many Foundation offers, as well as those of many individuals and groups to partner with the city to reach an agreement, keeping the park whole and developing a use that would be mutually agreeable, the city again instead hired a new outside attorney and consultants to write a "new Revised" EIR in 2009.  This time the city claimed that it could not afford to repair the mansion and that it would be best for the parkland and the mansion to be sold for a private residence.  The problem for the city is that it could again not prove its case that:  it could not afford to restore/rehabilitate the mansion; it has no other alternatives; and that all of the impacts have reasonably been evaluated if the parkland is leased to another governmental agency.  (For more detailed information see our EIR/Legal Issues page.)

Now the city has chosen to call for an election on the sale on November 3, 2009, irrespective of the lawsuit.  This is totally irresponsible because it confuses the public and wastes large amounts of additional taxpayer money to work on the suit, and also to have an election.  The city since 2004-2005 has spent nearly $800,000 on attorneys and consultants.  This does not even account for the incredible amount of staff time spent on this issue.  With all that money, Flanders could have been rehabilitated and reopened to the public for use today and there would be money for the rest of the park.  What a waste of money and a community tragedy/loss.

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Flanders Foundation
P.O. Box 1414
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921