Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

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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