Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the day “July 1, 2013”

Public Comment Delivered to MID and Modesto City Council

By Joan Rutschow

The need to produce and deliver safe and nutritious food is a fundamental human concern.  We will have to produce

English: A volume of one acre foot. It is a on...

English: A volume of one acre foot. It is a one acre area with a depth of one foot. This is equivalent to a 66 x 660 x 1 foot volume since an acre is defined as 66 x 660 feet. NOTE: the drawing is not to scale! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

more food in the next 40 years than we have in the last 10,000.

California farm revenue was $43.5 billion in 2011, making it the nations’ top ag state.  California produces more than 400 commodities, employing 800,000 workers on 81,500 farms.  U.S. farmers are among the most efficient in the world.  Over the past 30 years, California has increased production of milk by 44%, processing tomatoes by 69% and almonds by 122%.  At the same time, new production methods have helped growers save 100,000 acre feet of water a year.  Our farmers are excellent stewards of our land and our water!

Letter to Editor, 5/31/13

It is very encouraging to see Adam Gray and Anthony Canella supporting farmers in Stanislaus County and Merced County, location of the most prime agricultural land in the world.  We do have a water storage problem.  We need more facilities to capture and store our water.  Currently, because of 2 year drought conditions, and low water levels in our reservoirs, I feel San Francisco needs to seriously consider desalinization plants if they want more water and not take our water here in the valley (whole Pacific Ocean; technology for 50 years in the Mideast and Japan).

Bee Article, 6-23-13

The Water Advisory Committee stated that farmers get credit for replenishing our underground aquifers which have a value of $600,000/year.  However, our resident farmer and hydrologist, Vance Kennedy, has stated that the value of aquifer recharge by our farmers is $2 million + per year.  Concerning garden head accounts, which is property of less than 5 acres, homeowners are permitted to flood their property.  The great majority of these small user accounts are urban homeowners and are maintained by families and elderly people who grow their own food in their back yard.  Human survival by growing your own food, personal responsibility and self-sufficiency should not be penalized financially by raising the rates of the garden head accounts to sky high levels.

Remember – water + food = life itself!

By Joan Rutschow


The Politics of SPRAWL

By Emerson Drake

“Just like a fisherman understands a fish will rise to the bait and even swallow the hook, our local politico’s know

rattle snake

rattle snake (Photo credit: noah.w)

people will bite on the idea of jobs being dangled in front of them even if the the jobs are just a mirage.”

Modesto’s North Side

When we look to the land North of Modesto on the City’s General Plan we see the area East of McHenry and West of Dale planned for development of both homes and business. Actually they like the phrase “mixed use”,  which means some business but mostly homes, if Modesto’s developers in the Chamber of Commerce  get their way,  which they usually do.  Denny Jackman’s Residential Urban Limit (RUL) proposal would have limited homes from being built North of Kiernan.  But that didn’t suit the Chamber and their  “friends” on the City Council.

Denny was led to believe his  (I believe watered down) RUL would be allowed to be brought by the city council to a vote of the public but he was duped.  He bargained in good faith, but he forgot who he was dealing with, “politicians”.   Overall their whole purpose was to delay the RUL until it it was too late to gather signatures.  Some of those same people were the ones invited to the now well known Wine and Nachos meetings at his home.

Now everyone (city, county, developers), well almost everyone, is either after or willing to negotiate away Kiernan Business Park West and possibly more.  Modesto’s Mayor Marsh, the Chamber of Commerce, and even County representatives are actively pursuing and or discussing  this property and more.  And as usual the lure is jobs.  Or is it more about politics?  Also bear in mind if Mayor Marsh gets his one cent sales tax passed he’ll have up to  $3.25 Million a year to spend on economic development and one time projects.

Mayor Marsh brought Salida up in his inaugural address and his State of the City speech and has much to lose politically if he can’t deliver. One of his problems are his potential opponents in the still several years away mayoral race. Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside has been posturing for several months now. To listen to examples of this I played about 40 minutes of the last Modesto Finance Committee meeting on my radio show.  These unfettered exchanges between Marsh, Burnside, Muratore and Nyhoff are moments the public, with a few exceptions,  seldom hears.  The only place you can hear it is here in the  last 40 minutes (yes you can skip forward) of the show is the committee meeting. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centralvalleyhornet/2013/06/27/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

Modesto’s West Side

On this same front you have Village I profiteer Bill Zoslocki actively running for Joe Muratore’s seat in the council but we’re already hearing rumblings of his making a run at Marsh for mayor again. And he’s supporting both the expansion of the business parks on Modesto’s North side but a MAJOR proponent for the Chamber’s Pathway to SPRAWL on the West side.

The fear Salida should have is the County making a tax sharing deal to allow Modesto to develop areas inside the Salida Plan for its own benefit.  With any business Modesto develops in the Salida Plan acreage,  Modesto will receive the taxes which would take tax money away from Salida forever. But they will some how try to sell this bill of goods to Salida residents.

Now the Chamber’s placed about 6,000 acres of prime West side farmland in their sights.  You have to appreciate  the lies they use to promote their efforts. The Beckwith Dakota Triangle is 1,040 acres. The area outside the designated triangle over to Hammett Rd extended to Kansas/132 is 4,000 plus.  But behind closed doors the Chamber has been saying the Western border needs to be an actual road not an imaginary line so the far western border will be Gates Rd. which adds approx. another 1,000 acres to their plan. But during the sales pitch they don’t count the triangle or admit to the Gates Rd boundary. Pretty slick hey?

The other lie they tell is they want to protect the prime farmland acreage outside of the Triangle and to do so they need to bring it inside Modesto’s General Plan.  But since the voters passed Measure ‘E’ which says the county can’t allow homes to be built outside of cities farmland it is far safer for prime farmland outside of Modesto’s General Plan than inside it. Everyone needs to keep in mind that once the Chamber gets the west side land they will turn to the North,  Salida already has them salivating. And with the Chamber land use attorney George Petrulakis’ take no prisoner approach Salida better be ready.

Salida should beware of the Modesto  Chamber of Commerce bearing gifts. It brings to mind these lyrics.

“Take me in tender woman, take me in for heavens sake, take me in tender woman, sighed the snake.”


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