Saturday, September 29, 2012

The New Politico - Garrad Marsh

As often is the case, history is repeating itself.

Sixteen years after Salida successfully fought off an annexation attempt by Modesto Mayor and Fresno-native, Dick Lang, we're right back where we started with a mayor of Modesto wanting to annex Salida. The name of this new player with a plan is Garrad Marsh.

Photo credit:  Modesto Memes Facebook group
Used with permission.
Frankly speaking, Garrad Marsh befuddles me.    

When I attended the August 4, 2012 Town Hall Meeting that Mr. Marsh held at Beyer High School, one of the primary reasons he gave for wanting to annex Salida into Modesto was to get control of the land in the Salida Community Plan to develop it.

Imagine how stunned I was when I learned that Mr. Marsh was a co-author ON THE OPPOSING INITIATIVE to what evolved into the Salida Community Plan! That's right, he co-authored "SOS - Stamp Out Sprawl" (aka Measure E) with Denny Jackman.  

To put it another way, Garrad Marsh now embraces the "sprawl" that he once opposed on a ballot initiative. If your thinking is anything like mine, it will take some effort to wrap your head around that. Even more so when you hear someone refer to Mr. Marsh as a "farmland advocate" considering that the Salida Community Plan will pave over 3,000+ acres of farmland.

Now I don't personally know Garrad Marsh. I have heard plenty of nice things about him from others; I have neighbors who bowl with him. I've heard he owns a great BBQ joint. But as the saying goes, "You don't get a second chance to make a first good impression", and as a Salida resident, I don't have a first good impression of him. Why? Well because for someone who is striving to annex our town into his city, he doesn't appear to care very much about what we potential new citizens of Modesto think about the whole issue.

I found it particularly galling that in an interview with Athens Abell on her cable show, "On Watch!", referring to the annexation, Mr. Marsh says, "...we would have to figure out how it doesn't hurt the citizens of Modesto." Ms. Abell follows his comments with the questions, "How does Salida feel about it? Have you talked to them?" To which Mr. Marsh replied, "No, I have not, I have no idea of how Salida would feel". Watch the video here.

His statement about not wanting to "hurt the citizens of Modesto" is like a slap in the face to Salida as he then acknowledges that he doesn't know how we feel about the issue. What about hurting the citizens of Salida? Is that ok with him? What I take away from that is that as long as Modesto gets it land grab, who cares what Salidans think or feel about it! 

And Mr. Marsh still does not know how Salida feels, because he's not come out here and asked us. So I will share how I feel as a citizen of Salida. And considering that the interview was conducted BEFORE MR. MARSH WAS EVEN ELECTED, I feel that he's had plenty of time and opportunities to ask Salidans' opinions on annexation. That says to me that he doesn't care what we think, he only cares about progressing with his agenda. He's demonstrated this by approving $30,000 for a fiscal feasibility study on annexing Salida WITHOUT ever finding out what Salidans feel about it! Is his plan is to spend first, ask later? If he ever gets around to asking that is. I just want to close with a final thought and question for my fellow Salidans:  If we do end up being annexed into the City of Modesto, would you vote for the re-election of a mayor who valued your opinion so little?

I recently learned about a new politico who is driving the annexation behind the scenes, and that's Modesto Councilman, Joe Muratore.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why Now? Its "Salida Now"

WHY NOW???  Why is the annexation of Salida by Modesto even a topic right now?  It's not like there are any Salidans over here jumping up and down yelling, "Hey Modesto, annex us!"

There are lots of reasons "why"; some are known, and there's likely some that will never be publicly known. 

But the biggest and most prevalent reason "WHY?" is Modesto wants Salida's land. Namely, the land surrounding Hammett and Freeway 99 which borders the Stanislaus River.  Modesto has been slowly "cherry-picking" land away from Salida for years now; the land that Costco and Kaiser Hospital were built on used to be part of Salida.  These land grabs were easy pickings for Modesto because its easy for them to justify adding land to their northernmost border with the carrot of "water and infrastructure".  With its unincorporated status, Salida has no municipality; and essentially no voice, to defend itself against these smaller annexations.  

Which brings us to why Modesto is now looking at a full-scale annexation of Salida.  The land that Modesto politicians are after is namely the land contained in the Salida Community Plan. Since that land borders the Stanislaus River and is part of Salida, Modesto can't justify the leap over their city limits and to the river and Highway 99 otherwise.  The jewel in the crown for them would be the freeway access.  Its our convenient freeway access that put Salida in Modesto's cross hairs to begin with.  Think about it, this is the second annexation attempt on Salida by Modesto in the last twenty years.  You don't ever see Modesto trying to annex Empire, an unincorporated community on their southeastern border which is not anywhere near the freeway.

Now if you read my previous post, "August 7, 2007 - A momentous day in the history of Barry Bonds and Salida", you'll know that in 2007, I didn't support and was planning to vote against an initiative called "Salida Now" which calls for the development of the land surrounding my home stretching north to the river.  On August 7, 2007, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors pulled "Salida Now" from our ballots and passed it with a 3-2 vote.  The passage of the initiative replaced a previous development plan that had been in place for Salida, and thus, "Salida Now" became the new "Salida Community Plan".

There are still things about the Salida Community Plan that I'm not crazy about; like paving over prime farmland.  However, I'm no longer against the plan because I've accepted that its inevitable.  Whether that land stays in Salida or its annexed by Modesto, it WILL be developed.  The landowners have signed agreements with developers.  They WANT to sell their land; they are NOT fighting the development of it.  They are just waiting for the economy to turn around for the developers to begin building.  Mr. Emerson Drake of Modesto has shared a public information request he made to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors regarding the developer agreements and to whom the land guarantees were made to.  You can read the document here via his Eye on Modesto blog.

Where I especially support the Salida Community Plan is that $150,000 of the plan is earmarked for the incorporation of Salida.  This money, and the future development, could give Salida the needed tax base providing the ability to become a municipality and not have to thwart annexation attempts by Modesto every decade.  Salida just needs a chance.

After all, it is called the SALIDA COMMUNITY PLAN - and NOT - the Modesto Community Plan!

NEXT POST: The New Politicos: Garrad Marsh and Terry Withrow

Thursday, September 27, 2012

August 7, 2007 - A momentous day in the history of Barry Bonds and Salida

I remember the Summer of 2007 well.  I remember the signs all over Salida for two initiatives that were slated to be on the ballot come November - "Salida Now" a developer-authored growth initiative which would bring over 4,000 new homes and combined with commercial and industrial development across 3,000 acres, and an opposing initiative, "SOS" short for "Stamp Out Sprawl" which evolved into Measure E, a farmland protection initiative. 

To be honest, back in 2007, I didn't know very much about either initiative.  I was against Salida Now from the moment I heard "over 4,000 new homes".  Mainly because 2007 was the beginning of the downward spiral of the housing market.  I had neighbors who could previously sell their homes in a day or two, have their homes sit on the market for weeks or even months.  If the existing homes we had in Salida weren't selling, who needed more?

The other thing I remember about that initiative battle were the signs.  Salida Now had flashy looking signs all over town and everywhere you looked, while SOS had mostly homemade looking signs with a sparse distribution.

Besides the tension of the initiative battle, I remember the tension surrounding whether today would be the day that Barry Bonds would break Hank Aaron's home run record.  In those days before we owned a DVR, and being that we're diehard San Francisco Giants fans, my husband and I would rush home to glue ourselves to the TV in hopes of witnessing history.  
Photo: Barry Bonds by Katherine Borges
August 7, 2007 was that day. Barry hit #756!  As we celebrated that day, little did we know that a vote had taken place that very day which stole our votes and the votes of thousands of our fellow Salidans.  

At their board meeting that day, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors pulled Salida Now from our ballots and passed it with a 3-2 vote.  Jeff Grover, then Supervisor for District 3 which covers Salida, was quoted as saying that Salida Now, "is exactly what we've been working on and exactly what we've been planning in Salida."  The two other Supervisors who voted in favor of Salida Now were Dick Monteith and Jim DeMartini, and they currently still serve on the board.

When I heard the next day about what the Supervisors had done, I was shocked and furious!  How could it be legal that three men, who don't even live in our community, can steal our votes from us and arbitrarily decide our futures?  

And now here we are in 2012, and its happening again.  

A new set of politicians, WHICH NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM LIVES IN SALIDA are once again politicking to decide the future of Salida.  And rather ironically, five years after its passage, Salida Now is exactly what's at the heart of the current annexation movement.

NEXT POST: "Why Now? Its Salida Now"


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A brief history of Salida and a past annexation attempt

The largest unincorporated community in Stanislaus County, Salida was founded in 1870 (the same year that Modesto was founded) by the railroad.  In "The Story of Stanislaus" by John T. Bamhall, Salida is described in 1914 as being, " the richest section of the irrigation district, Salida, with its big alfalfa mill, its grain and hay warehouses and its heavy shipments of vineyard and orchard products, is a town of great promise."

But unlike Modesto, Salida never incorporated as a city and has thus been subject to past annexation attempts and annexed portions of land that once belonged to Salida. For example, the land that Costco and Kaiser are on was annexed away from Salida and into the City of Modesto.

Read the Modesto Bee article below regarding the most recent full-scale annexation attempt upon the community of Salida in 1996:

The Modesto Bee

February 1, 1996
Edition: Final and Second
Section: A
Page: 1
Author: Michael Cabanatuan,
Bee staff writer 
Modesto's plans to grow north and swallow Salida were stopped at the city limits Wednesday night.
The Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission, ending 10 hours of public debate at two meetings, voted 3-2 to deny the major part of Modesto's 30-year growth plan. The vote scuttled the city's bid to grow northward, all the way to the south bank of the Stanislaus River.
Another 3-2 vote rejected another part of the growth plan, sending city officials away from the meeting in a doubly somber mood.
Modesto sought approval from LAFCO, an independent agency that determines city boundaries, to include 12 square miles of land, most of it undeveloped farmland north of the city, in its sphere of influence -- its ultimate growth area -- and designate it to eventually become part of the city.
County Supervisor Tom Mayfield made the motion to "deny it all" -- meaning the proposed northward expansion, taking in the land between the city limits and the Stanislaus River. Joining him in voting yes were fellow Supervisor Paul Caruso and Patterson Mayor Tim Durbin. Oakdale Mayor Pat Kuhn voted no, as did Ken Entin, who represents the public on LAFCO.
Audience members applauded and quietly cheered the decision, while Modesto City Council and city staff members seemed shocked and dejected.
Entin, a Stanislaus State University political science professor and LAFCO chairman, pleaded with his fellow commissioners to reconsider the decision, which was passed without debate.
"This rejection is just not right," he said, arguing that the commission should at least discuss some of the areas in the Modesto plan.
"We should have had a discussion about Salida," he said. "We should have had a discussion about the northern areas. We should have had a discussion about Kiernan Avenue."
But Mayfield, who made the motion, refused to reconsider.
Modesto Mayor Dick Lang, however, did convince the commission to deny the city's proposal "without prejudice," meaning that the city can come back to LAFCO within a year. Without the exemption, the city would have had to wait a year to bring back any part of the plan.
Caruso, Kuhn, Entin and Durbin voted to allow Modesto to come back in months; Mayfield voted against the motion.
The decision to allow Modesto's return within a year seemed motivated by support for theModesto A's stadium plan being considered by the City Council. The stadium is proposed for a site bordering Highway 99 off Beckwith Road and Highway 99.
The commission also rejected that area for the city's sphere of influence. Again the vote was3-2, but the roll call was different. Mayfield, Caruso and Entin voted against allowing the site bordering Highway 99 into Modesto's growth area, while Durbin and Kuhn voted for its inclusion.
Entin, the swing vote on this motion, said he believed that allowing development in the Beckwith area would interfere with the lifestyle of Wood Colony residents, many of whom are German Brethren, a religion that values privacy and separation.
"I think it is one of the strongest communities of interest in Stanislaus County," Entin said. "It is more of a community than Salida."
Commissioners never even considered including the whole Beckwith area, as requested by Modesto, because of the emotional testimony by Wood Colony residents at last week's six-hour public hearing.
The commission voted unanimously to grant Modesto two small pieces of new territory for its growth plan -- an area south of the Tuolumne River, bounded by Whitmore Avenue, Vivian Road and Carpenter Road, and an area to the east, bounded by Parker, Church and Garst roads, and the Santa Fe Railway tracks.
Modesto officials were clearly dejected by the commission's denials, filing out of the Board of Supervisors chamber with sullen faces.
"I'm disappointed," Lang said after the meeting. "I feel our recommended general plan was very well thought out, very well planned. It reflected 31/2 years of hard work by the public, the Planning Commission and the City Council.
"We're very disappointed with the denial of the industrial areas. The residential areas we can live with that, but we need prime locations along Highway 99 if we are going to compete for new industry and jobs."
Modesto will "re-evaluate our proposal and perhaps modify it so we can get three votes from the commission," Lang said.
The mayor also said the city expects to continue discussing the Modesto A's stadium, shopping center and recreation complex proposal, and may return to the commission with a request to annex that land.
"I think the chances of getting that through are good," Lang said.
As one of two city votes on the board, many had expected Durbin to side with Modesto and vote to include at least some of the area north of the city in the growth plan.
But Modesto was reaching for too much, Durbin said after the meeting.
"My feeling was Salida is a community, a small town. I relate it to Patterson. I am a sheriff's deputy in the Bay Area (Alameda County) and understand that small,unincorporated communities can work, too."
While he said he understood Modesto's need to plan for both industrial and residential growth, Durbin said, "I thought it was too bold for adequate planning. They incorporated too much land too quickly."
City-county animosity was clear throughout the 10 hours LAFCO debated the Modesto growth plan. Durbin and Entin said they were disappointed in the dispute and urged the county's nine cities and the county to negotiate a master sales tax agreement and work out their differences.
Modesto Growth
Copyright 1996, 2002 The Modesto Bee
NEXT POST: "August 7, 2007 - A momentous day in the history of Barry Bonds and Salida"