Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stanislaus County could incorporate Salida into a city

My public comments to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on June 28,2016:

Good morning Gentlemen, 

I think this current Board of Supervisors has enacted some very proactive and visionary things for the future of Stanislaus County. Like Focus on Prevention, or the pay increases for a future Board that might not ever apply to any of you. 

So today, I want to share what I think is a huge problem that lies in our future and ask you to decide if you want to be proactive and visionary about it and that huge problem is the future of Salida. On Thursday, June 9th, I received a call from the Planning Department at the City of Modesto to inform me that the City plans to revert to their 1995 General Plan boundaries. While that doesn't appear to be much different than the way things are as Salida is still within the City's General Plan boundaries, I was also told that this does call for a change in their Sphere of Influence and they plan to apply to LAFCO for an SOI that includes Salida Community Plan land. The City of Modesto currently has over 11,000 acres in their sphere of influence, yet they consistently go after the land that You the County set aside for us in the Salida Community Plan. I think it goes without saying, but no one in Salida is going to be ok with this. And the worst part of it is, even if every Salida resident showed up to protest it, that may not be enough for us to stop it from happening.

Modesto tried to annex Salida in 1997 and it was voted down by one vote at LAFCO. In the meantime, they cherry-picked Salida's tax base and annexed in the land that Costco and Kaiser are on. Then Modesto planned to annex us again in 2013 and were met with a resounding “No”. And here we are only three years later and they are back to cherry-picking the open farmland which is all they really want anyway.  It's proof positive that Modesto is never going to relent until they get what they want; and all they want is Salida's tax base of undeveloped land.

The future for Salida is dismal. If allowed to, Modesto will take all the Salida Community Plan land that's north and south of Kiernan. We will be walled in by Modesto on the East, which only leaves growth to the west which is NOT what the majority of residents of Salida and our neighboring Wood Colony want. I see this future as the death of Salida. It will have no where to grow which is a requirement for incorporation as a city. Nowhere to grow was one of the reasons cited as a denial of East L.A.'s incorporation. Salida will age and stagnate; and next thing that will happen is we will end up a disadvantaged county island that Modesto will be forced to annex before they can grow further west under SB 244 requirements.

There's only one way to stop the destruction of Salida and the sprawl of Modesto westward, and that's to incorporate Salida as a city. An online poll last year showed that 70% of Salida residents supported incorporation. But incorporating Salida is easier said than done. Trying to do it ourselves has the odds stacked against us. You the County, has all the resources we don't have. You the County, has our $150,000 set aside by landowners for our incorporation studies. You the County, would be the ones to negotiate tax-sharing so Salida can have it's tax revenue go to the new city. You the County, as shocking as this might be to you, can incorporate Salida into a city. 

“After meeting the basic legal requirements for incorporation, the proposal can be initiated in one of two ways. One way is through a public agency. A resolution of application can be adopted by the legislative body of an affected agency, which is defined as any city, district or county that contains territory within the proposed incorporation boundaries.”

Salida will never be the town that David Curtis dreamed of when he founded it in 1908 calling it “A Model Town”. It will always be the poor man's Ripon of Stanislaus County unless we can incorporate. We will never get grants to build a city hall like Waterford did. We will never have the police coverage that Hughson does and they are 6,000 people smaller than Salida. Hughson City Councilwoman Jill Silva told me the best thing Hughson ever did was to incorporate. 

Incorporation would be the best thing Salida ever did too. It would have a chance to be a charming city like Ripon. It would have a chance to be a safe city like Hughson. Its borders would be set to prevent the slide into poverty. A green belt could be put between Salida and Wood Colony. Salida would have a chance to be the city David Curtis dreamed of and the present residents want. Please consider giving Salida that chance. You have the ability and the funds to make it a reality. Thank you.