By Emerson Drake
After watching the Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday 7/9 and
again at the Planning Commission on Monday Night 7/15 the truly massive size of the Chamber’s Pathway to SPRAWL / LAND GRAB hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe if the Chamber had been willing to share the acreage numbers when I had asked in the past it wouldn’t have come as such a surprise. But since they keep adding acreage hand over fist (like the 7,700 just added ) no wonder they have kept their silence. So we did some follow-up and research to lift the cone of silence the Chamber placed on the public. Please remember Chamber lobbyist and CEO Cecil Russell REFUSED to supply the public with their presentation at a Planning Commission workshop at the King Kennedy Memorial Center last month. We received the two pdf documents we shared here from other sources.
All of the following acreage numbers come from Modesto City Staff, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce has steadfastly refused to admit the size of their massive land-grab in the past.
The original size of the Beckwith Dakota Triangle was 1040 acres according to the Modesto General Plan. During the Chamber’s original presentations they added a study area of 5360 acres (this is the first time the number of acres have been disclosed anywhere including ALL of the Chamber’s presentations) for a combined total of 6400 acres according to City officials. Although now they no longer call this acreage “Ag study” it’s now job study, all 6,400 acres. The blue on the map is the BK Triangle and the reddish color in the “L” shape to the West and South is the added area.
See the map on page 28 of the provided link for a more accurate description of the following:
At the Board of Supervisors meeting they announced a new study area consisting of 7,700 acres. This lies between Hammett on the East, to the river on the West, past 132 on the South, and the river on the North.
The area North of Kiernan is 2,400 acres and is designated “study” area. (Again, this is the first time this has ever been told to the public.)
The proposed land for homes on the East side of Modesto consists of 8,800 acres. (Yes, this is the first time for this acreage total to be known.)
The combined total is 6,400+7,700+2400+8,800= 25,300 acres. The acreage total inside the Modesto City limits is 23,040 so the acreage the Chamber wants to bring under Modesto’s General plan is 109.80% of the land in the city limits. And the Chamber claims this isn’t a land grab to potentially double Modesto’s size? What’s next annexing Patterson?
The Chamber’s brag about Turlock’s Business Park that Blue Diamond bought into
The Chamber has consistently blamed the City of Modesto for Blue Diamond purchasing land down in Turlock because of the lack of “shovel ready” land. Lets take a look at Turlocks accomplishments. Blue Diamond purchased 88 acres of land and now has recently employed 50 people on the site. Although, they do say more may be added in 10 or 20 years. Turlock city officials have been embarrassed by the lack of jobs actually generated instead of the glowing numbers originally told to the public. If you use the Blue Diamond numbers, every 1,000 acres of business park will produce 568 jobs. Now we’re aware these numbers aren’t the best by far it does reflect what the Chamber might settle for. Yet they have consistently made the claim you can get 27,000 out of 1,000 acres of business park when they are pitching their plan. It doesn’t sound like Turlock made such a great business decision after all does it? And this is the type of transaction the Modesto Chamber of Commerce holds up as an example of foresight and quality thinking.
The real money to be made by the Chamber’s friends is by building HOMES.
Consider the fact two of the members who are pushing this Pathway to SPRAWL plan (Bill Zoslocki (also a village I profiteer and city council candidate and Steve Madison) are former Building Industry Association (BIA) PRESIDENTS) and developers in their own right. And it was BIA CEO John Beckman who said the people shouldn’t be given the opportunity to vote. He said it was a travesty of our representative republic to allow voting by the public. I understand this point of view since it’s easier to persuade (purchase) enough city councilpersons to ignore the public’s wishes than it is to blind the public in the voting booth. Also promoting this SPRAWL initiative is Brad Hawn. Mr. Hawn is a former Modesto Councilman and thanks to the Chamber sits on LAFCO’s Board. As an owner of an engineering company and an engineer himself he stands to make money if the proposed business park/ homes are built. Land use attorney George Petrulakis is also a presenter. Mr. Petrulakis, in a moment of honesty, pointed out one of his employers, the Developer Keystone Property in Patterson used home building in one of its parks to finance a possible business park in the future (he made it sound like the homes have been built but not the business park).
The Chamber is well aware homes are where the money is for their members and since the Chamber is a 501(C)6 which is a lobbying organization why wouldn’t they be interested in (taking care) of their members. After all it’s the Chambers members who are footing the bill for all of these proposals.
The Big Lie
The Chamber’s SPRAWL promoters are wanting to place ALL of their proposal inside Modesto’s General Plan (GP) claiming they can protect the farmland by doing so. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only way to protect this land from having homes built on it almost at will is to keep it OUTSIDE Modesto’s GP. The voter’s have Measures A and M which stop the County from allowing homes to be built outside of city limits. Bringing Prime Farmland inside the GP is the first step in the development of homes. We’ll follow-up on the Chamber’s claim to support Denny Jackman’s Residential Urban Limits (RUL) another time. But suffice it to say for them to support RUL they want to gut Measures A&M. When it comes to veracity the Modesto Chamber of Commerce falls way short. They truly count on people being uninformed and as such being willing to buy the lie and follow their carrot of jobs, jobs, jobs right over the cliff.
More of the same
At the recent Planning Commission meeting a commissioner was heard to say, “what we are doing isn’t working and we need to try something different.” Apparently allowing the Chamber of Commerce to conduct yet another bait and switch (selling the idea of Business Parks and then switching to building homes) is doing something different. Our thoughts are, isn’t that what we’ve always done? And just how gullible are we?
The Chamber’s next presentation will be at the Salida MAC meeting Tuesday night 7/23/13 at the Salida Library at 7:00 PM.