Thursday, June 4, 2015

Of Law and Land Grabs

I've had a couple of phone calls about the Modesto Bee article, "Modesto considers urban growth boundary, budget" and I can see why the callers are concerned. Some of the wording of the article sounds like Modesto has launched a fresh annexation attack. But its actually quite the opposite.

For those residents who lived in Salida in 2007, the acronym "SOS" or "Stamp Out Sprawl" should ring a bell. It was the same name for a residential urban limits growth initiative passed by voters that year known as Measure E. Same name, same author, which is former Modesto City Councilman, Denny Jackman. author is the same at least. The other, Garrad Marsh, is now the Mayor of Modesto. 

To give you a little background on just what a "residential urban limits" initiative is, its proponents gathered the required number of signatures to place it on the ballot. Once passed, it means that any time a developer wishes to build residential housing in the county (not cities, just county areas) that it goes to ballot for voter approval first. In all county areas...except Salida. The reason it doesn't apply to Salida is because the Salida Community Plan was placed on the same ballot, in the same year - BUT - the Board of Supervisors pulled the initiative off the ballot and passed it so it would supersede Measure E (aka SOS). 

But Modesto really blew it when they crossed Denny Jackman's ag line in the sand and went after Wood Colony. He capitalized on the huge public outcry against pushing generational farmers and a gentle non-political religious community from their lands to slap up commercial and industrial development on some of the best farmland in the county. So Denny decided to do for Modesto what he had already done for the county and introduce an urban limits initiative. This new SOS includes different boundaries for both residential and non-residential development. Proponents easily gathered the needed signatures for the initiative to be placed on the November 2015 ballot.

Modesto City Council voting on SOS initiative - June 2, 2015
And that is what the article was about in the Modesto Bee. Its all part of the process to place SOS on the ballot. BY LAW, the Modesto City Council HAS TO VOTE YES to place it on the ballot. They have NO CHOICE but to vote yes as they are required to do so by law. I witnessed this vote and the look on their faces pretty much says it all.

Now I will say that I do support SOS and I hope it passes. It will offer a layer of protection against Modesto's land grabs on Wood Colony and Salida. Except for one area: Denny carved out some land south of Pirrone, east of Sisk and west of Dale. This was in part to appease a developer, Dave Romano, because he did not want Romano to fight the SOS initiative. Of course I'm unhappy this area was excluded because its part of the Salida Community Plan. Being that the land is included in the Salida Community Plan, and being that Mr. Romano, along with other landowners who signed a development agreement for the Salida Community Plan, I think that if they want to develop it, they need to talk to Salida and not Modesto. Salida is done with Modesto's land grabs - no more!

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