Scaled-back Pebble Beach project OK’d

California regulators have approved an expansion of the famed Pebble Beach golf resort after decades of fighting between the developer and environmental groups over a particularly scenic stretch of Pacific coastline.

The California Coastal Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a land-use amendment for the project after the Pebble Beach Co. scaled back its plan to expand in one of the world’s largest forests of native Monterey pine.

"It’s an historic day for us, because it shows that the public sector and private sector can work together in a cooperative manner," said Bill Perocchi, CEO and part-owner of Pebble Beach Co., whose resort includes Pebble Beach Golf Links and 17-Mile Drive.

The company’s owners include actor-director Clint Eastwood, golfing legend Arnold Palmer and Peter Ueberroth, the businessman and former Major League Baseball commissioner.

The commission approved plans for a new 100-room hotel, 90 new home lots and an expansion of existing hotels. This came after the company agreed to drop plans for features such as a new golf course.

"While we are pleased at the progress towards a better project, there is room for improvements," said Amy White, executive director of LandWatch Monterey County, a local environmental group. She said the plan fails to adequately address the need for more affordable housing.

Commission members said the approval puts an end to concerns hanging over Pebble Beach for decades that developers would remove tens of thousands of trees. Under the earlier expansion plan, some 18,000 trees would be removed; about 4,000 trees would be cut down with the smaller plan approved this week.