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