Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Inequity of Stanislaus County's Invisible Lines

My public comments to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on July 12, 2016:

Good morning Gentlemen, 

A long time ago, Modesto's “Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health” arch marked the city's entrance. As we know, the city has grown way past the arch in all directions. Some of the city's limits are marked by signs, but for the most part, all the city limits really are, are lines drawn on paper indicating invisible lines on the ground. 

Salida has it's own invisible lines denoted on paper called the “Salida Community Plan”. But Salida's invisible lines are not as strong as city lines. Salida's community plan lines are consistently ignored by the City of Modesto. And while Salida's invisible lines are supposed to give credence to Salida as being a “Community of Interest”, there's no guarantee that any designation other than being a city will protect land within our lines from being taken away from us. Everything but a city's boundaries can be ignored.

I was discussing Salida with a Ripon resident last week and he said that he would've thought that Stanislaus County would care more about Salida than it appears you do because it's the first impression that people get when they cross the river into the county. If you look to the left, it's not too bad. The businesses along Pirrone are well kept, but on the right, there's a big ugly pile of dirt in the world's worst location for a drainage basin, then a nice firehouse, then an ugly patchwork painted wall (albeit a graffiti-free one) then a dilapidated fence surrounding an unsightly wrecking yard, then a bunch of billboards with trash and refuse all along the railroad tracks. That's the first impression people get as they enter the county if they look to the right.

You the County have many more big problems to tackle than the aesthetics of Salida. Spending money on the thousands of gallons of paint it would take to make our soundwalls all one color is not even on your list of things to fix in this county. But its on Salida's list. We hate that ugliness; of course we do, we see it every day of our lives. And if we were a city, we could do something about it. 

If Salida were a city, we could be like Escalon and install wayside horns to diminish the blaring train horns that pass through town around every 20 minutes. Again, not something that's even on your radar but is important to us and would improve the quality of life in Salida. 

The thing I consistently hear from You the County anytime I ask for anything to improve the quality of life in Salida is that “If we do it for you, we have to do it for everyone” or “If you want it, you have to pay for it yourselves”. If you want speedbumps, pay for it yourselves, if you want a traffic light, pay for it yourselves. After hearing those replies so many times, I feel pretty confident in saying that the majority of Salida's tax dollars are not spent in Salida. And while I won't delve into the politics behind this in the few seconds I have remaining of Public Comment, You the County and I both know that Salida is at the back of the line for any grant funding for many years to come.

The only way I can see to improve the quality of life in Salida is to incorporate as a city. The only way I know of where our tax dollars will be spent in our own community is to become a city. The only way I know of to improve the northern gateway to Stanislaus County is to become a city.

You the County can't protect our invisible lines from being taken from Salida, but you could help us change the status of our invisible lines so they can never be ignored again. Thank you for your consideration.