Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Land Grab by Developers”

The Planning Commission 6/3 and the Only Public Copy of the Land grabbing Proposal

By Emerson Drake

The meeting was sparingly attended with only about thirty members of the public present. Unfortunately for a Planning

A montage I (Valente Q.C.) made with pictures ...

A montage I (Valente Q.C.) made with pictures that I took for the Infobox in the Modesto, California Article. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Commission Workshop this was a lot of people.  I say unfortunately because it makes the phrase “Politics just happens to most people” ring true.  With the exception of Cecil Russell even the Chamber’s usual attendees  stayed home.  The secondary problem is that it gives our local politicians an excuse to ignore the suggestions made by those in attendance.

Salida was well represented

There were at least six Salida residents attending, most of whom reminded the Planning Commission that Salida shouldn’t be in Modesto’s General Plan. Brent Sinclair reminded the Salida contingent (and everyone else) that it was the city council who requested Salida continue to be included and only the council could take them out.

So why bother going?

The Public had heard the Chamber was going to give a presentation called “Pathways to Growth” but that didn’t come to pass.  Since the presentation has been delayed until July several present challenged why the Chamber didn’t make their presentation that night after making a huge deal out of Denny Jackman supposedly waiting until the last minute to bring RUL forward. But as we’ve come to expect of of lobbyist Cecil Russell, that was all show and no substance. When Cecil finally approached the podium he didn’t bother to tell the truth.  He made the claim he was called by city staff late Friday afternoon cancelling their presentation. But after exchanging several calls during the week with city staff we learned he had actually been called Thursday.  Apparently the Chamber was insisting to talk for 60-90 minutes and there wouldn’t be enough time for the scheduled workshop.

So why did Cecil mislead the public?

Apparently he’s used to saying anything that comes to mind and most don’t fact check him.  But we do. We’ve found the need cut through the haze of his non ordinary reality time and time again.  When he was asked by several of those in attendance for a copy of the draft proposal,  he REFUSED.  Fortunately some were so shocked they offered to supply copies.  Thanks to Katherine Borges with a assist by Duane Spyksma (scanning) with a major hand-off from Councilman Dave Geer we can present you a draft copy of the Chamber’s presentation.  After seeing the presentation twice I can tell you other than the presentation getting as slick as a late night infomercial nothing has changed.   The massive land grab they propose is still includes somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 acres of prime farmland west of 99. The proposed western border of an extended Hammett Road is just the starting point.  They have spoken behind closed doors about using Gates Road on the West and want to extend South of Kansas  to the proposed 132 on the lower end.

Here is the Chamber’s draft proposal


We truly have concerns that city staff is working too closely with the Chamber of Commerce to the detriment of the citizens. Will we get a fair shake in the end result?  I believe the finished product will be as rewarding as standing next to a long haired dog that just came of of the river.


What’s on America’s Mind Wednesday at 6:30 PM

Radio RED 104.9 FM

Radio RED 104.9 FM (Photo credit: Mahdi Ayat.)


Topics include the latest Salida MAC meeting and an exciting idea for Salida’s replacement trees, The Modesto Chamber’s presentation of their massive land grab call Pathways to Growth and what the opposition has to say, the arguments made at city council for lowering the Campaign Donation Limits, these and more so tune in at 6:30 PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.


104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station


For our live show and archive link




Things You Need to Know and Won’t Read Anywhere Else

By Emerson Drake

MID Has a New Back Door Man


Lyons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Modesto Irrigation District was discussing creating their Water Advisory Committee there were only a few major requirements. Being knowledgeable regarding water issues, understanding a successful business model, and most importantly, and without exception, not running for the MID Board in the fall. Most of the people nominated and approved fall into that category. But it seems we have one MAJOR exception. The Water Advisory Committee Chairman Jim Mortensen has been seeking financial supporters in an apparent run for office for District 4.  And he has apparently found one in Bill Lyons. Lyons, who supported Glen Wild, Tom Van Groningen, and Paul Warda to name the ones still on the Board  through his Beckwith-Dakota LLC,  has pledged his support. Bill Lyons has been milking MID for every penny he can, and has found a new shill to put into office. Unfortunately the people Lyons’ supported in the past are responsible for many of the terrible decisions made by MID.  And since  Jim Mortensen won’t or refuses (you choose) to honor his pledge NOT to run for the MID Board then how can anyone in good conscience vote for him?  The public should DEMAND his removal at the next MID Board meeting.  The meeting  scheduled for May 28 has been cancelled. Maybe now we know why.

Along those same lines we keep hearing Carol Whiteside (of Martino Graphic Designs funneled money fame) is considering a run for the MID Board. Ms. Whiteside who collected a minimum of $15,000 (not invoiced by her company, California Strategies) from MID through Martino Graphics ,has been contacting Board members to arrange meetings.  The last time she pulled this stunt she was being directed by Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild (they were the only Board members aware of the surreptitious arrangement with Martino Graphics.  Neither the rest  of the MID Board nor the public are clear on what she did to earn the money (except to study MID records according to Tom VanGroningen). Apparently for the friends of a chosen few, MID is the gift that keeps on giving. With her record of receiving funds under the table from MID, I don’t understand how she could consider running but then maybe she’s talking with Billy Lyons too.

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s new Bible vs Their Plan,  Pathways to Growth

The book is “The Coming Jobs War” by Jim Clifton (Chairman of Google) and is quite interesting.  I’ve heard several members of the Chamber tout this book as a must read for planning Modesto’s future.  The funny thing about people pushing books allegedly supporting their actions is that most people never get around to reading them.  Come on, it’s no indictment against anyone but most people aren’t readers.  It’s just a fact of life and the Chamber knows it.  So all they feel they have to do is wave a book by Google’s Chairman and people will accept anything they say as Gospel. Unfortunately for the Chamber some of us are readers.  I finished it last week.  Would it surprise you to learn that most of the Chamber’s proposals run contrary to what the book espouses?  It shouldn’t because that’s how the Modesto Chamber of Commerce rolls.  These are the same people when they ran short of money to finish paying for refurbishing Modesto’s Arch were saying they were asking the city for a loan but had  City Manager Gregg Nyhoff place on the agenda a request for a one time gift.  Now that’s hardly the same thing.  I pointed this out during the City Council agenda meeting and when it came to the Council meeting, Councilman Cogdill expressed concern at using public money and the Chamber’s head lobbyist, Cecil Russell, ask for it to be pulled from the agenda.  It’s in the record so feel free to check it out. The print media never mentioned that to you did they?

I’ll be placing an annotated list of quotes taken word for word from the book so YOU can compare the two divergent philosophy’s (the Chamber’s and the book’s author).

The Planning Commission Decision and a Citizens Comments Regarding RUL

By Emerson Drake

English: Stanislaus River (in California) at C...

English: Stanislaus River (in California) at Caswell Memorial State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my opinion the worst of the possible three choices was made by the Planning Commission. The decided they wanted staff to study the problem and come back with more information regarding Residential Urban Limits.  But even more telling were the statements from the majority of the Commission stating the didn’t believe something this important should be decided by the voters.  The phrase “unintended consequences” was heard over and over. From what I heard the Planning Commission wants to roll parts of RUL into the General Plan and keep it away from the voters.  I agree with the following letter since RUL only preserves prime  farmland from residential developers and suggests no mitigation for business parks. Remember the Chamber is looking for mixed use designation with would allow homes to be built in business parks away from cities. I believe with the Planning Commission’s  decision  it would be almost impossible for Denny Jackman’s RUL to be sent to the voters this fall.

Now letter read to the Planning Commission.

Commission Members: Sandra Lucas, Ted Brandvold, Patricia Gillum, Chris Tyler, Steve Carter, Dennis Smith, Marshall Riddle
1010 10th Street
Modesto, CA 95356
RE: Against Denny Jackman Urban Boundary Proposal: duplicate legislation.
Dear Planning Commission,

I am a Modesto resident who lives in the area north of Pelandale – to the Stanislaus River. This is prime farmland area: from Salida to Del Rio. I drive the roads of Kiernan, Tully, Dale, Stoddard, Ladd, Carver, and St. John. Every day I am reminded of the importance of acres and acres of prime farmland that is cultivated for personal consumption and our region’s responsibility to do so.

After reviewing the Ballot verbage for Mr. Jackman’s urban boundary proposal (which Mr. Jackman handed me a copy at the previous City Council meeting), I do not believe this proposal should be considered or allowed to become a ballot measure for public vote.


This proposal which would require voters to decide on whether the destruction of agricultural or open space land for RESIDENTIAL development, appears to be a duplicate core issue of legislation of Measure E which was passed by voters in November 2007.

In further review, I believe the Jackman proposal is inadequate in that voter approval for the destruction of agricultural lands should also include the development of commercial purposes! The serious matter of destruction of agricultural land (our #1 industry), our region’s responsibility to produce the state and nation’s food supply, is no less, if it is allowed to be destroyed for commercial development. This is a major omission.

Other unacceptable elements of this proposal cannot (exempt) or take away, the state environmental mandate of an acceptable CEQA study which might uncover any unknown and harmful consequences of a development to surrounding residents, nor should this proposal take away the right of a resident to voice their opposition to any negative social effects of low income housing to be built near their established middle and upper class subdivisions, or which could destroy their real estate values.

Once our valley’s prime agricultural land is destroyed – little by little for “this project”, or for “that project” – (whether for residential or commercial) our farmland will undergo a slow pattern of destruction. We as local residents, the owners of the land, and localgovernment agencies need to remember that we all have been entrusted to protect and be “good stewards” of this finite valuable agricultural land resource. This region is responsible for protecting and providing the food for California and our nation. With an ever increasing national population, and a finite amount of valley farmland – destruction of farmland for any reason will amount to high food prices from not enough supply (land) to meet the needs of a higher amount of the population (demand).

Most people believe food prices are already too high and many are struggling to buy the food they need. This negative impact of destroying farmland, little by little, is an important “forward thinking” approach and probably the most important reason not to destroy it at all.
Everyone is embracing “farmland preservation” but are your actions really preservation?
There cannot be “double-speak” with new law (SB 375, General Plan, Land Use, Zoning)
or policies being made, or land use decisions.

Silicon Valley is entrusted to provide our high tech knowledge. San Francisco is looked upon to be our cultural and arts provider. The Delta, nearby various lake and river regions, and others, are the sources of our much needed and precious water. Modesto and various central valley regions are the precious growers of our food. These very different regions are best “in doing what they do best.”
We cannot be, nor should we try to change WHO WE ARE: the rural rich farmland area of the state.

Thank you.
D. Minighini
Modesto unincorporated resident

The Salida Now Ordinance S.C. 1005

To see the entire ordinance click on the link at the bottom.


Upon motion of Supervisor Grover, seconded by

Supervisor Monteith, Ordinance C.S. 1005 was

passed and adopted at a regular meeting of the

Board of Supervisors of the County of Stanislaus,

State of California, this 7th day of August 2007, by

the following called vote:

AYES: SUPERVISORS: Grover, Monteith,

and DeMartini

NOES: SUPERVISORS: Mayfield and Chairman




Ordinance C.S. 1005 adopted without alteration the

County of Stanislaus Salida Area Planning, Road

Improvement, Economic Development, and Farmland

Protection Initiative. The Board also accepted

as a critical and integral component to the Initiative

and Development Agreement signed copies of

the First Amendment to Development Agreement,

which clarifies the authority of the Board of Supervisors

to condition or deny a development plan that

includes residential development if such development

cannot fully fund the cost of infrastructure for

business Park and industrial development. This ordinance

amends the County General Plan and County

Code to expand the Salida Community Plan area

and create a comprehensivelY planned Salida Community

Plan and related zoning classifications.

This new Community Plan will Provide for transportation

improvements, industrial business, commercial

centers, parks, school sites, and residential.

This ordinance approves a development

agreement that establishes the general plan and

zoning designations for twenty-five years, irrespective

of any growth control measures later enacted

by the voters or the Board of Supervisors. This

ordinance is not the final approval to develop the

Salida Community Plan. This ordinance requires

that any development within the Salidc Community

Plan Amendment Area requires the prtparation of

a programmatic-level Environmental Impact Report

prior to development.

A full copy of Ordinance C.S. 1005 is available online

at and is available for review at the Clerk of

the Board’s Office, 1010 10th Street, Suite 6700, Modesto,

CA. For further information, call the Stanislaus

County Counsel’s Office at 525-6376.




DATED: August 7,2007




Clerk of the Board of Supervisorsof the County of


Stanislaus,State of California


BY: Elizabeth A. King,


Assistont Clerk of the Board


AUGUST 20, 2007

 To see the entire Salida Now Package click on 810 ordinance.


Aditional file footnotes.


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