Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Salida”

Why This MID Election is Important to You

By  Emerson Drake  

Having gone to Modesto Irrigation District (MID) meetings regularly for more than ten years, researched their past, and following them with interest for more than twice that time, that there is no doubt that this election is crucial to MID’s and our future.

When you start to talk about MID people’s eyes have a tendency to glaze over after about 30 seconds, that is unless you are talking to them after they pay an electric bill during a hot spell when they have been using their air conditioning.   The fact is that MID was mismanaged for years by Tom Van Groningen (1993-2013) ,his cohorts on the Board and Allen Short, MID’s General Manager, during those same years.

A short look at MID’s history of business decisions shows an absence of, shall we say, critical thinking. It’s been suggested more than once if they’d flipped a coin instead of being led around by the nose or making the decisions themselves  they could have saved us about $500 Million dollars by the simple chance of the flip. From the geothermal fiasco, to a potential garbage burner to the overpriced (by 30 percent)  McHenry Ave solar farm contract north of town, it was one debacle after another.

Another fact is that a small group of business people led by Bill Lyons, yes the Bill Lyons of Mapes Ranch that wanted to sell our water to San Francisco, have controlled MID’s Board for this same period.  Bill has written checks for $5,000 to his special MID candidates (2 per election)  during contested election years. While his business partners, this year both developers and farmers,  took care of the third MID seat to the same fiscal level. His most recent beneficiaries were Paul Campbell and Jim Mortenson.  Campbell was elected and Mortenson was defeated by Jake Wenger four years ago.

So after they drove into almost $1 Billion dollars in debt what happened next?  Well first of all Larry Byrd, Nick Blom, followed by Jake Wenger two years later,  were elected to the MID Board.  Secondly the cost of natural gas plummeted.  This gave us the profit that people point to.  And what was the prudent course to take?  They started to pay down the debt.

Just as most of us learned as we matured you can’t live off of credit forever so the MID Board did the prudent thing.  It’s not sexy but it is necessary, you have to pay down the debt.  In the past MID, since they aren’t governed by the Public Utilities Commission, had the ability to our raise rates whenever they felt like it.

Our electric rates have been the same since 2011 so if you are feeling the effect of a high electric bill it means you used, like most of us,  a lot of electricity during the 31 days of 100 degree heat recently.

Now we’re faced with the decision of who to elect to the MID Board.  Both men are church going family men and business men.  But politically speaking that’s where the similarity ends. Stu has aligned himself with developers like Paul Zagaris, George Petrulakis, Mani Grewal, and special interest groups like Bill Lyons and company.  Jake has aligned himself with his friends, family, and the average working family.  Stu is a johnny come lately that admits to knowing little but what he’s read in the Bee, and has a penchant for making promises he can’t back up.  Jake has been fiscally responsible when it comes to being our voice on MID and is the most available person I’ve ever known in politics.  As an example if asked a question in person or online he’ll answer it immediately if time permits, and if it doesn’t or you have more questions he’ll give you his personal phone number and either give you the answer or get you the answer to your questions.  Unfortunately Stu isn’t knowledgeable about water or MID at all.  He’s like a one trick pony that looks nice but won’t take you anywhere.

The sound decision to make is to get up off you chair or couch and make sure you vote for Jake Wenger.



Are Modestans prepared for the flashbacks to the late 80’s and early 90’s?

By Emerson Drake   modestologo

Mayor Ted Brandvold and those who funded his campaign in the developer community are ready to place their grand plan for expansion in motion. They’ve already announced their intentions to lower building impact fees to developers which won’t lower prices to consumers but will pad the pockets of developers. Then in their minds the next logical step is to try to steal land that Wood Colony and Salida have been trying to protect.  Developers have been placed on the Alliance Board of Directors and the Modesto City Council to assure us this is the best course, but since these same developers own properties in these areas, Bill Lyons and Modesto Councilman Mani Grewal in Wood Colony and Dr.Stephen Endsley in Salida, how can we expect them to do anything other than to provide support to their own cause.

Obviously they can’t be trusted but who will stop them?  The money behind Brandvold’s election campaign owns and or controls property outside of Modesto so infill is just given lip service.  Endsley, who when heard of last was intent on building a garbage burner on Modesto’s south side,  has been itching to develop his property north of Kiernan inside the Salida plan.  And Mani Grewal and Bill Lyons own property in the Dakota triangle and so Brandvold and his supporters want to ignore the many people that spoke to the Modesto Planning Commission and go back to the good old days where developers rule. just like they did during the Village 1 debacle.  It will be no surprise to see City Staff finding reasons to support the developers cause because, after all, they want to keep their jobs.

Expect the same people that wanted to sell our water to San Francisco like the Chamber’s Janice Keating and Chamber lobbyist Cecil Russell, to tell the public how this will save Modesto and bring quality jobs. Except Lyons wants to build retail, which provides minimum wage jobs, Cecil waxes almost poetically about warehouse jobs in the Chamber’s monthly magazine and Endsley just craves action. After the good doctor received his check from MID’s ratepayers for $1.2 Million for not building his garbage burner, he’s been after Salida’s zoned business park which curiously enough surrounds Gregori High School.  We’ve even documented where Union Bank is fronting for Ryan Swehla and Benchmark in the sale of property north of Kiernan.

Recognize any of these names? Craig Lewis, Brad Hawn, Chris Murphy, George Petrulakis, Tom Nielsen, Ron Jackson, Dennis Wilson, Chris Esther, Kole Seifkin, Ron Ehrke, Mark Buckley, Warren Kirk, Steve Madison, Jim Mortensen, Jeff Burda, Randy Clark, Linda Sadler, Becky Meredith, Bill Zoslocki, Joan Clendenin, Steve Rank. They’re all members of the Chamber land use and Transportation Committee.  Expect to see any and all of these people coming out in the near future in favor of not only reverting back to old land use plans but for a massive,  expansive,  land grab.  Many of these same people already spoke in front of the Planning Commission in favor of extending Modesto’s sphere of influence all the way to the river to our West and North.  Nothing like building homes on some of the worlds richest and best soil for farming.

Developers even managed to place Brad Hawn on LAFCO so don’t expect organizations that are supposed to protect against SPRAWL to protect us from the developer’s greed.  The voters, understandably,  were frustrated by former Mayor Marsh’s policies but as we’ve already warned, we’ve jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Mayor Marsh and those who supported him are responsible for lighting the fuse and will now act surprised that the developers’s power keg of GREED and SPRAWL goes off.

And what will the rest of Modesto’s City Council do?  Our guess is hey’ll admire the Emperor’s new clothes.

Attn John Gunderson Please Try Being Informed and NOT just Opinionated

By Emerson Drake    jgunderson

On July 26th Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson wrote an article under Community Columns John Gunderson: Clear thinking needed on Salida annexation issue where he makes several dubious and completely wrong claims.  Now we can’t tell you if just can’t comprehend what he reads or is just being malicious.  What we can say is when he relayed his columns to fellow council members, staff and others (yes the result of a public record request) where he claims to have done the research himself. The above photo is the Councilman’s ‘official’ picture.  The below one is the one he posted of how he see’s himself on facebook.  jJohnGunderson

Unfortunately Councilman Gunderson  has been wrong on this issue for a long time but to make specious claims he says he researched? well here is Katherine Borges’  response in its entirety. Her original post 

Fun from Cat and Gundy -or- John Gunderson Salida Facebook post #4 and my reply

John Gunderson’s new profile pic of “me”. Which ironically
(and eerily) looks just like my cat.

Well folks, Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson is at it again. I must really crawl under that guy’s skin because he can’t seem to go a week without a Facebook post on Salida. This week, he regurgitated an e-mail I wrote to the council in June regarding a tip I received from a Salidan that Modesto had hired a consultant to help them annex Salida. 

My cat. Rescued as a kitten
from the intersection of
Woodland & Carpenter.

While both Mayor Marsh and city planner, Patrick Kelly replied that the city didn’t hire Keith Bergthold as an annexation consultant, there’s something still amiss here. Why would Bergthold tell his Fresnan friend that he had an eighteen month contract otherwise? Perhaps it was just being bandied about and was all verbal at that point? Either way, its DOA now because the city can’t very well go and hire him after denying that they hadn’t. And how effective would he be with any kind of collaboration building with Salida? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)

Councilman Gunderson can’t help but crank up the old propaganda machine starting right in the second sentence with, “Think the Goodwin Study would have been enough, the annexation concept was proven to be a bad idea.” First of all, anyone want to wager that Councilman Gunderson has NOT read nor thoroughly examined the Goodwin Study? Because if he had, he would know it shows that Modesto would stand to rake in $22.8 million a year in revenue in annexing Salida at full build out of the Salida Community Plan. How does that prove the annexation concept is a bad idea? And if it were proven to be a bad idea, then why is Modesto keeping Salida in their general plan? Councilman Gunderson wrote in his community column just two weeks ago that, “…the majority of the Modesto City Council feels (annexation) is still a possibility“. And he says I have “nothing to worry about???”

And once again, the councilman nay says Salida incorporating, “Should stop worrying about incorporation for Salida as well because that can’t happen either.” I previously responded to his comment about whether or not Salida can be incorporated, but it apparently didn’t register in his brain so I’ll say it again, “Keep in mind that no one has ever applied to incorporate Salida as a city. If no one has ever tried, how does anyone know whether or not it can be done?

Available land in
Beard Industrial Park
What he also doesn’t seem to comprehend is only supplying water in exchange for land -IS- extortion when you supply water to other areas without forcing them to turn over their land! To put it into language he’ll understand, its known as an “out-of-boundary service agreement” and the council approves them all the time. And once again, I’m going to call him out on his double standard for trying to justify water extortion by saying “Modesto ratepayers deserve better” when Beard Industrial’s sweetheart deal costs ratepayers and the city millions upon millions each year. The city of Modesto supplies both water AND sewer to Beard without annexing the land. (Read more about Beard)
Lastly, Councilman Gunderson said, “Modesto’s water should be leveraged for the best possible outcome that helps pay for services for residents of Modesto proper, not the surrounds.” When the City of Modesto purchased the Del Este Water Company in the mid-1990’s, they took over the existing wells and infrastructure in Waterford, Grayson, Del Rio, part of Turlock and Salida. So technically, they bought Salida’s (et al) water so its not “Modesto’s water” he wants to “leverage” to begin with. Our water comes primarily from wells in Salida so he wants to leverage our own water against us! Additionally, development occurs in all of those other former Del Este served communities and yet, Modesto does not “leverage” the water by extorting land from them; except in Salida.

In case you were wondering why Councilman Gunderson is so fixated on Salida its because if Salida were annexed, we would be assimilated into his district. That’s right, we would be the constituents of a man who feels water extortion upon us is justified because the majority Modesto residents in his district “deserve better” than the Salidans.

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” – Aldous Huxley

Stay tuned for more “fun” from Cat and Gundy…at some point in the next 7 days – –


More fun from “Cat”. Think the Goodwin Study would have been enough, the annexation concept was proven to be a bad idea. Catherine has nothing to worry about on that. Should stop worrying about incorporation for Salida as well because that can’t happen either. Refusing City of Modesto water for new development within the Salida TPA… refusal is extortion? Modesto ratepayers deserve better than that. Modesto’s water should be leveraged for the best possible outcome that helps pay for services for residents of Modesto proper, not the surrounds. Development outside of a city’s limits is a losing proposition because of the State’s mandated property tax distribution scheme. 

Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 12:48 PM
To: COUNCIL; Brad Wall; Patrick Kelly; Terry Withrow; Vito Chiesa; Dick Monteith; Jim DeMartini; Bill O’Brien; Marjorie Blom; George Petrulakis
To the Modesto City Council:
I received the following from a Salidan today, “My father lives in Fresno and is friends with a man named Keith Bergthold. Keith told my dad he was hired by the city of Modesto to see what can be done about annexing Salida.”
I’ve met Mr. Bergthold at the Carpenter’s Church General Plan presentation in May and I also attended the April Stanislaus Community Foundation breakfast that was connected with Fresno Metro Ministries.
So you can fire Mr. Bergthold because HELL WILL FREEZE OVER before you ANNEX SALIDA or the Kiernan Corridor! Get that through your thick skulls!! How many different ways and from different people do you need to hear that before it sinks in?!? It doesn’t appear that turning out hundreds of people to voice that works since both Salida and Wood Colony have done that!!
I’ve told you once if I’ve told you a thousand times, we are willing to work with you if you want to develop the Kiernan Corridor (although I don’t know why since you are so IMPOSSIBLE, OBSTINATE and DYSFUNCTIONAL about our communities) BUT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO JUST TAKE SALIDA NO MATTER WHOM YOU HIRE!!! Your status quo land grab days are over!!! Get a clue!!!
Since you have a contract with Mr. Bergthold, why don’t you have him use his remaining time in educating you about “build up, not out”. Fresno has done well with that. Look around their Kaiser Hospital and then look around Modesto’s. And in the meantime, LEAVE SALIDA and WOOD COLONY ALONE you greed-driven sellouts!!!
Very sincerely,
Katherine Borges

On Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM, Garrad Marsh wrote:
You are wrong about Mr. Bergthold being hired by the city. Mr. Bergthold has not been hired (or to my knowledge even contacted) by any City of Modesto employee or elected.

From: Katherine Borges [mailto:salidakat@
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 2:02 PM
To: Garrad Marsh
Cc: COUNCIL; Brad Wall; Patrick Kelly; Terry Withrow; Vito Chiesa; Dick Monteith; Jim DeMartini; Bill O’Brien; Marjorie Blom; George Petrulakis
Mr. Mayor,
WHO hired him then? I was told he has an 18-month contract. Emerson has filed a public information request with the city. Even if it turns out that you’re right and the city has nothing to do with it, then you need to find out who working to annex Salida on your behalf. I want nothing to do with this man and will not contact him. His e-mail is: Keith.Bergthold@

On Jun 4, 2014, at 2:47 PM, “Patrick Kelly” wrote:
This is to confirm that the City did not hire Keith Bergthold. Keith represents Fresno Metro Ministries and has volunteered his time to work with Stanislaus Community Foundation to look at asset based community development. At Keith’s request, the City presented the General Plan Amendment proposal at a community workshop (hosted by Metro Ministries) held on May 8, 2014, intended to inform the public about Modesto’s General Plan Amendment currently underway. At Keith’s request, the workshop also included a presentation by Carlos Yamzon, Executive Director with StanCOG about the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan / Sustainable Communities Strategy. The intent of the presentation format was to share with the public Modesto’s General Plan Amendment proposal in context of StanCOG’s regional plan.
Patrick Kelly, AICP

From: Keith <Keith@
Date: June 4, 2014 at 3:37:17 PM PDT
To: Patrick Kelly < >
Cc: Katherine Borges <salidakat@ Garrad Marsh < >, COUNCIL < >, Brad Wall < >, Terry Withrow < >, Vito Chiesa” < >, Dick Monteith < >, Jim DeMartini < >, “Bill O’Brien” < >, Marjorie Blom < >, George Petrulakis < >, “Brent Sinclair” <>, “kberg@ <kberg@>

Thank you Patrick. I have no idea where such false assertions mentioned below with respect to the City of Modesto and Salida or contracts with the City might originate. I have been volunteering with various groups in Modesto, Fresno, Madera, and Kern around community building for healthy people and healthy places – which is a regional initiative and goal of Fresno Metro Ministry. Please have people contact me directly to confirm my activities and intent. Thank you again for sharing this information. Regards, keith


Today in the Name of Freedom We Start Taking the Battle to Them

By Emerson Drake7539_644398712288462_663275294_n

Okay it’s a little dramatic, but it fits.  The Modesto City Council is preparing, through its General Plan Amendment update, to annex Wood Colony and possibly Salida and I say enough is enough.  Unlike the beleaguered citizens of Modesto, residents of Wood Colony and Salida have a means to fight back.  Marketplace Shopping Center is a prime example.  Modesto residents came out in droves to protest the building of the center at Sylvan and Oakdale roads but the city council, after pretending to listen and postponing the decision a few times, decided developers were more important to them than the voting citizens of the neighborhood.  They can’t protest the decision to a higher authority like Wood Colony and Salida will be able to ie: LAFCO.

The Modesto City Council has been drinking the Chamber of Commerce’s Kool aid.

After speaking with Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer on Jan.7th it became obvious, that despite her protestations of independent research, she was mouthing the exact platitudes of the Chamber’s Craig Lewis and lobbyist Cecil Russell.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, is the chant.  But all they are providing are empty promises of ‘core’ jobs which is deceiving few if any.  Core jobs don’t rely on freeway access, warehouse and distribution jobs at $10 to $12 an hour do.  And the Chamber says we should be grateful for that.  But Bill Lyons’ Wood Colony Business Park (WCBP) would provide the 5% commissions for Realtors like Councilman Bill Zoslocki and his boss at Prudential Realty, Craig Lewis.  Jenny likes to say she wants a research facility to be built at WCPB and challenged me to give her another option.  Very simple, if it’s going to be 10 to 20 years before build-out, which I doubt, lets use the second rate soil on land East of Modesto.   Just like the Chamber, Jenny dismissed this out of hand.   Why?  Because they know it’s out best option and it undermines their arguments in favor of Salida and Wood Colony.

Another talking point they, the Chamber and many members of the Council make is a business park would keep our children from leaving Modesto.  What a joke, but again false promises hold out hope to parents of children who might leave after college graduation.  I suppose if they had a child who wanted to be an oceanographer they’d promise to build an ocean in the proposed park too.

Their spiel isn’t about truth, it’s about taking advantage of the hard times and making as much money as possible for themselves and their friends just like developer and profiteer Bill Zoslocki did with Village I.

I supported Jenny Kenoyer when she ran for office the first time. I sat with her and fought the proposed water sale to San Francisco.  I heard her speak many times about preserving prime farmland.  And now because she mentions  farmland mitigation she believes it covers for her sins for making false campaign promises.  I understand some politicians lie to get in office but I truly never expected it of her, not to this extent.

And as for taking the fight to them…

There are people walking Modesto council districts explaining to the people just how badly the City Council is treating the German Baptist Brethren in Wood Colony.   But as Jenny admitted saying, they (the Brethren) can’t vote for her.

Food for thought about the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and those in the Modesto City Council who vote against the preservation of Wood Colony and Salida…To know where Evil grows and permit it to flourish is to accept responsibility for all that follows.

‘We The People’ Modesto Chapter

By Emerson Drake                    honorourheritage

I think it’s time for the people of Stanislaus County to have an organization  of their own representing them.  It wouldn’t be affiliated with any other groups, and is just out of concern for the issues faced by those of us in the Central Valley.  We’ve watched Modesto try to claim land belonging to the residents of Salida and now Wood Colony is being threatened with extinction.  It’s important to understand extinction is exactly what will happen if the majority of the Modesto City Council gets their way.  It’s the extinction of a way of life for the German Baptist Brethren, and everyone else who lives in the area.   Once industry invades Wood Colony it’s the beginning of the end.

Going to the Modesto Planning Commission meetings we heard the Modesto  Chamber of Commerce attempt to extend Modesto’s influence to the river on the West and North.  They were claiming ‘they’ would protect farmland but the reality is something completely different.  This massive land grab they attempted to bring into Modesto’s General Plan (37 square miles) was larger than Modesto proper (34 square miles.)

Individually they can ignore the will of the people but collectively they have to listen.  It’s important for everyone to come forward and speak your mind to the Modesto City Council.  Citizens of Modesto especially.  Why?  Because the Majority of the City Council is preparing to help you surrender your ability to vote on Modesto’s annexations.  We ALL need to protect Measures A and M because they help us to rein in the greed coming from the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and being funneled through the City Council.

The people of Wood Colony and Salida need and deserve our support. Only by standing together can we survive the onslaught being perpetuated by the Modesto City Council and Modesto Chamber of Commerce.

Think about it.

Special thanks to the Fly N Dutchman Graphics and Banners for the picture.

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

Tonight’s topics include our new expanded schedule,  the latest goings on at MID with the

Radio RED 104.9 FM

disastrous  Mensinger, Campbell, and Mortensen slate, MID’s Tom Van Groningen’s latest antics, the Modesto City Council and lobbyist Cecil Russell, behind the scenes of the Measure X proposal, the Modesto Courthouse placement. these topics and more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 6:30  PM

104.9 FM our flagship station

To listen live or from our archives http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/10/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1

Watch the June Salida MAC Meeting

Here you go folks, the most recent Salida MAC meeting videos.

Stanislaus River

Stanislaus River (Photo credit: chaimann)



For those who couldn’t be there this is the next best thing.

The second link contains much of Katherine Borges’  incorporation presentation.

Many thanks to Brad Johnson for the recording and uploading of the videos.

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.”


Mayor Marsh to Host Town Hall Meeting at Gregori High

Saturday May 4 at 1:00 PM – Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting 


Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

Gregori High School, 3701 Pirrone Road


What Government Doesn’t Tell You

By Donna Minighini

City/County government still has yet to really solve Modesto and Stan County’s extremely high unemployment rate.

Luke on Modesto, Tatooine

Luke on Modesto, Tatooine (Photo credit: Rubink1)

Enticing mid-large size employers to relocate here -bringing JOBS to local residents, is the most important goal and achievement that government could do (besides protecting our individual safety from a rising crime rate  from the forced “re-alignment program”).  However, instead of building a strong economic foundation for both the city, county, and residents of Modesto to flourish from – government has not disclosed to residents the fact that some of their city and county “building” and “revenue” strategies  have been channeled into applying for millions of dollars in state grant monies for MORE transportation improvements, and a goal of developing 25, 608 low income high-density housing units to be forced upon 25,608 neighborhood streets:  the impact of such a large amount of additional government subsidized housing (to the existing section 8 housing that the city and county has long participated in providing for needy residents) will turn our area into a Bay Area “subsidization designation” magnet.  Major decisions made for our city and county should benefit all residents.


STANCOG’s “Valley Vision” public “workshop” seminars talk exclusively about the County’s future efforts of providing more “transportation improvements” – however they quickly breeze over the fact (and don’t talk at all) that in order to obtain millions of dollars in grant monies, the requirement of forecasting future county “housing growth” numbers “need” resulted in their determination of 25,608 low income high-density multi-complexes to be “forced” upon city and county neighborhoods.  When asked at a recent VALLEY VISION public workshop meeting, and then again at the first public GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT/LAND USE public workshop meeting –  they say their presentations are about transportation improvements – (not housing) and they quickly avoid any discussion or explanation about what is outlined in the “2009-2014 Revised Housing Element Update Report” – describing low housing development. (http://www.co.stanislaus.ca.us/planning/pl/gp/housing-element.pdf).   Why is our government depressing a public presentation of these housing goals (which are already in progress)?  Providing housing growth projections are part of the requirement for transportation funds. http://www.hcd.ca.gov/hpd/hrc/plan/he/he_time.htm.


A city and county should help its needy with some subsidized housing and Modesto and Stanislaus County have always provided this assistance.  Many private property owners have, and still offer their properties for rent under section 8 subsidization agreements.  But for Modesto and County government to provide future growth housing “stats” (to Sacramento) of needing 25,608 more low-income high density multi-family housing units is adding to an already over-supply housing problem which our area has been struggling to get over, and ,of which has destroyed thousands of dollars in homeowner’s property values causing them individual economic harm.  Over-development of housing is not fixing the real problem:  the need for jobs and economic growth for all residents.  Forcing 25,608 low income high-density multi-family units within our neighborhood streets (see “2009-2014 Revised Housing Element Update Report”) with a list of potential exact vacant lot “APN” parcels for each city and town to which the County can mandate this housing be built on (the County classifies some of these as “INFILL” locations, giving developers special preference – and forming “the law to the project”!)  The report even provides shocking statements that existing statutes and law can be “government restraints” to the building of this housing!  When has a government agency or report ever made such condemning statements as to bad mouth or overturn the protections of the public as identified in existing local or state statutes?


High density residential projects destroy our beautiful “rural” low-density single family residential neighborhoods – the prime reason people want to live here (decent spacious family living).  This new housing policy is a developer’s dream of making a lot of money and the “valley vision” of a few government persons who possess bad “decision making authority” which will add to the problem of our area’s housing over-supply.  Whether an over-supply or not, this policy is sure to cause economic financial harm to homeowners’ neighborhood with further decline of property values.  A home for many is the only source of financial stability for their future.  No “valley vision” or government policy should cause economic harm to any of its residents.  And the power to make land use decisions should not trump people’s individual property rights and well-being of a neighborhood.  A Board of Supervisor’s comment regarding a land use policy was “get used to it!”  As the public, we don’t have to live with decisions from government that invade our privacy, well –being, and individual land rights.   Any person can challenge the decision of local government by filing a Writ of Mandamus action with the required timeframe to do so.

The current re-written “LAND USE” amended document which can be seen at

(http://www.stancounty.com/planning/pl/gp/gp-chapter1.pdf ) is part of the “General Plan” Amendment project, and indicates shocking “absolute sole power” given to the Board of Supervisors and the HCD (Housing Community Development) for such housing and commercial development.  The housing land use policy circumvents and tramples on a resident’s private land use protections such as “community plan” agreements/contracts, “CCRs”, and the quality-of-life expectations a homeowner thought he/she could count on for their family in the character of a neighborhood.  A city or town’s “progress” or “modernization” is never justified if it destroys another person’s well being and property rights.

The County doesn’t even have to continue to fight to annex Salida because they force their specific “business and residential land” goals of developing over 3300 acres by simply exercising their County goals in “upgrading” an unincorporated area as they see fit, approval developers applications (with flexibility) – and they’ll even get grant monies to do so!


The current land use actions and documents are nothing more than extreme “government control” over you as a private citizen, and another very bad decision to transform Modesto and other towns into a high-density area, (all in the name of “progress”).  Such changes will not be seen immediately with today’s rezoning maps – until construction projects formalize in the future. Everything looks good on beautiful color coded maps and diagrams but think beyond this about possible congestion or neighborhood character transformation that will occur in the future?   Just travel to any Bay Area city and see what overpopulation feels like, and how hard it is to navigate around high-density commercial shopping and business areas. Is this the kind of city you want to live in? Beautiful presentations to the public today do not substitute the future demise of a “rural Agricultural town”.  Persons who think “modernization” and “updates” involve high density mixed-use development will in fact, will bulldoze over the “character” of your rural town, which is why most people live here:  low density spacious living to raise a family from the hectic ills of the big cities.  Yes, I’ll agree we need some updates in the downtown area with re-development.  Most downtowns are high- density residential and business use (mixed-use zoning) offering a variety of shops, restaurants, cultural events, personal services, and apartment housing – but leave our easy going, spacious single family neighborhoods alone from forcing multi-plex, high-density low income housing which will change the very character of these neighborhood streets.   Many residents don’t want an “urban” high density character in their “rural” neighborhoods!


Much of the transportation improvements within Modesto and in County areas are being made in North Modesto instead of helping to raise the quality of life in many Southern Modesto areas.  Why doesn’t the City and County direct the $92 million dollars of transportation grant monies just received for “further” improvements of north Modesto’s Pelandale and Kiernan roads (which are improved sufficiently to date) to south Modesto’s neighborhoods and streets, in an effort to bring these areas up to middle class status and beauty?   See StanCog’s “Overall Work Program, Amendment 2” report, to see the Counties’ transportation strategies.  http://www.stancog.org/pdf/owp/owp-fy-2012-2013.pdf


D. Minighini


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