Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The chess game from Hell

Salida is in the "chess game from Hell"; or at least that's what it feels like. Modesto makes a move, then Salida has to counter it. 
Proposed City of Modesto General Plan update

The latest moves have to do with Modesto's General Plan update and the General Tax vote headed for the November ballot. Modesto's General Plan has included Salida since the 1990's but Modesto's Community and Economic Development Department and planners have added in an additional 1,800 acres
Modesto's latest land grab on Salida -
bordering Kiernan
bordering Kiernan that's contained within the Salida Community Plan. 

In May, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce debuted their "Pathways to Jobs and Prosperity" which takes Modesto's General Plan update and greatly expands it. The part that is especially disconcerting for Salida, (besides Salida also being included in the Modesto Chamber's plan) is that it includes the land to the east and to the west of Salida. In effect, Salida would be landlocked by Modesto. And if Salida is surrounded by Modesto and left with no room to grow, then Salida can kiss ever incorporating as its own city goodbye because LAFCO doesn't approve incorporations for potential cities which have no room to grow. Just ask East L.A. 
Modesto Chamber of Commerce's Pathways Plan

Obviously, Salida wants out - out of both Modesto's General Plan update and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce's "Pathways" plan. Additionally, Salida wants all land contained within the Salida Community Plan removed from Modesto's General Plan along with all land to the east and west of Salida removed from the Mod Chamber's plan. Granted, one of the chamber's presenters, Brad Hawn, did acknowledge at a July 15th Modesto Planning Commission meeting that Salida would likely come out of the plan. But actions speak louder than words so we need to see it become a reality. 

On Tuesday, July 23rd at 7 pm at the Salida MAC meeting held at the Salida Library Community Room, members of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce will be presenting their Pathways plan. They know our concerns with their plan as myself and other Salidans' have expressed those concerns at multiple public Modesto General Plan update meetings including the latest one held at the 1010 10th Street chambers last Monday. I don't know what the Modesto Chamber will do but I figure they have at least three options: 1. Try to sell the plan as is to Salida. (Um, good luck with that!) 2. They might offer to remove Salida and the land to one side from their plan in an attempt to compromise. Problem there is how much room will there be to grow until Salida runs into Modesto?  The North County Corridor is on Kiernan so that behooves Modesto to develop the area plus they have already annexed land into the city on the corner of Dale and Kiernan. Or to the west where the new Highway 132 will be the newest artery to bring commerce to the city. 3. They may decide to outdo the City of Modesto and offer Salida an olive branch by removing all three areas. (I can hope, can't I?)

Another part of the Modesto Chamber's presentation includes support for a county Transportation Tax which may be on the ballot in 2014. When I first heard this 1/2 sales tax mentioned by our Stanislaus County Supervisor, Terry Withrow, I was mentally shaking my head no and thinking, "Oh no, not another tax!" up until he explained that it was a matching funds tax where the state will match the amount we pay and it will be returned to our county to improve our roads instead of being sent to other counties. Fresno and San Joaquin counties both have this tax which funds part of their freeway infrastructure improvements. Speaking as a county resident, if I'm going to vote for any sales tax, at least this is one that I'll derive benefit from, as opposed to...

...on July 9th, the Modesto City Council voted and unanimously approved their own sales tax proposal for the November ballot. They want a one cent "General" sales tax which will be divided up between "public safety" and "general government purposes". (Read the Modesto Bee article for more info on this tax.) If the county Transportation Tax passes, then the General Tax will be reduced to a 1/2 cent tax.

Interestingly, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce opposes the General Tax for various reasons (as cited in the Bee article). And until the City of Modesto specifically defines what the tax should be used for and excludes it from being used to annex (or parcel annex) Salida, then Salidans should also oppose this tax. Following is a portion of the comments I made at the July 9th Modesto City Council meeting:
"Now, despite Salida's public outcry against annexation, and our County Supervisor who has announced his support for us against being annexed, we know its not over as far as Modesto goes. No one in Salida has taken down their “NO SALIDA ANNEX” signs.  However, one thing that has helped Salida feel a little more at ease over the threat of being annexed, is that we know that Modesto does not have the money to annex us.  We know that you are in financial straits because you wouldn't be trying to implement this tax otherwise.  And while you may be sitting there wondering why a Salidan would comment on this tax, someone who can't even vote “Yay” or “Nay” on this tax, I'm here to let you know that that doesn't necessarily mean we don't have a say in this tax.
You see, the average Salida household spends between $15-20 thousand per year on commerce in Modesto.  Let's average that and say $17,000 per year and times that by the 4,000 households in Salida which comes out to Salidans pumping $68 million into Modesto's economy.  So technically, Salidans are Modesto taxpayers.  And even though we can't vote on the tax nor serve on the Citizens Oversight Committee, we can influence the vote by asking our friends and relatives who do live in Modesto to vote no on the tax.  Its not difficult at all to get people to agree to vote no on a tax, I've already tried it.  Additionally, we can even volunteer to help those who might campaign against the tax.  
In conclusion, something to consider – tighten up section 2 to leave Salida out of “general governmental purpose” or other areas of “economic development”.
As the old adage goes "politics makes strange bedfellows". While we may oppose being a part of the Modesto Chamber's Pathways plan, we're on the same page in opposing Modesto's General Tax (albeit for different reasons). Unless of course Modesto's politicians take my recommendation to exclude Salida. It's your move Modesto.

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