Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008”

A Follow-up to Aug. 13 Letter Regarding Modesto City Planners

By D. Minighini


This is a follow-up to the letter written by Carla von Hungen and posted here on 8/13. Please scroll down or http://wp.me/p1UFSP-14g 


Dear Residents Across Modesto (whether living in the incorporated or unincorporated areas):


English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...



Remember to look at page 11 of the July 15, 2013 Planning Commission AGENDA This document can be found in its entirety on the web by searching the Modesto Planning Commission website, under this date. … View more


This document outlines some of the development the City and County wants to implement under the General Plan Amendment project. The General Plan Amendment is the document that governs all of Stanislaus County. The Planning Commission will vote to approve it or not, on August 19th at their public meeting.

The redevelopment of our existing neighborhoods with be with low income affordable housing via the verbage on Page 11 of the agenda report entitled “Neighborhoods.”     This how our local government will destroy middle class neighborhoods, destroy thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate gains, and destroy the social fabric of a group of similar families with similar values and behaviors.  By this document, our local government has decided to mandate that low income affordable housing will be incorporated into existing neighborhoods.  This is NOT a mandate by    state law, SB 375. This is OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT’S planning ideas, and might I say, very bad planning without care for people’s current and future wealth that is present in the homes they own.  Let’s not even talk about the social problems that will occur from forcing low income or Section 8 (benefit) residents into our neighborhoods.  Low income housing needs to be developed and located properly within the city and county. The below new “neighborhood” redevelopment (per the General Plan Amendment document) is being mandated ACROSS THE ENTIRE CITY OF MODESTO (that’s incorporated and unincorporated areas). 


These kinds of housing plans are negligent misinterpretations and malformations of a “sustainable city” under SB 375 by local city planners and other government personnel who have written or approve the General Plan Amendment as it now states.  Anyone in our local government, or city planners, should respect people’s economic holdings of home ownership and the financial wealth that exists in the varying neighborhoods of this city. The expectation of real estate gains coming from the one major asset that families have, is sometimes, all that they have. There is no law that demands that low income housing should be incorporated into existing neighborhoods. The placement of low income housing is a very important decision and its location should not infringe or hurt any other existing resident’s real estate values. Low income housing brings various social and economic ills to middle class or upper class neighborhoods. It will destroy financial wealth for existing residents. These are real estate facts that are well known. This also intrudes into our constitutional protections to the pursuit of happiness and the foundation of economic prosperity that this country was built upon. Every American strives to reach higher, and as their lives progress and when they decide to invest in, they choose and spend thousands of dollars into a particular neighborhood because of its economic level, social behavioral expectations, and the type of residents who live there who have similar values. Homeowners who buy into middle and upper class neighborhoods have worked hard to afford it, and have finally achieved it, with no government handouts.

Local Modesto government and City Planners have no right to destroy the American economic model and cause financial injury to its residents who own property.

The below verbage of the General Plan Amendment document is a direct proximate cause of injury to residents if it passes.  The below verbage should be modified and deleted:

“The City of Modesto will promote and facilitate a fabric of complete, cohesive, pedestrian-friendly and family-oriented neighborhoods across the entire City. New neighborhoods are to be integrated with existing neighborhoods, through contextual design consideration, compact development patterns and application of Neighborhood Compatibility Guidelines and other applicable development guidelines.”

“Goal III.C
Neighborhoods. Neighborhoods should be complete, compact and sustainable so that housing, jobs, shopping and transit access are within easy walking distance of each other. Neighborhoods should include a mix of compatible land uses within close proximity, contain a diversity of housing types to accommodate a wide range of economic levels…”

“Policy III.C.1
Complete Neighborhoods. Complete neighborhoods promote livability, sustainability and safety for all residents. Modesto’s neighborhoods should contain: a mix of housing types including affordable and market-rate;…”

(“Compact” and “affordable” housing is referring to the city’s “sustainable city” high- density, low-income RHNA housing!)

Residents need to attend the Monday, August 19th Planning Commission public meeting and voice their opposition to this and other development under the General Plan Amendment document.
The Planning Commission meeting will be held at 6pm at 1010 10th Street, basement level.

Your voice is needed.   We all need to stand together, in as large of group as possible, to demand that this verbage be modified or deleted.  This neighborhood building code is just about millions of dollars in grant monies being paid to developers and having a steady stream of tax payer money paid to our government. SB 375 is just ONE method of reducing greenhouse gases by building compact high density cities. We need to encourage our government to use “other” ways to meet the 5% GHG reduction mandate by 2020.
We don’t have to let our government destroy our neighborhoods by low income housing (which people all over the Bay Area will come to live in it. There is no guarantee that our local residents will be chosen for it.).
Don’t think your voice won’t matter. There is only one more chance on August 19.

Unincorporated area residents of the City of Modesto need to be concerned about this too.


D. Minighini
Modesto unincorporated resident 



Unknown by Most, Plans Made by our City Planners…Next Meeting 8/19/13 at 6 PM

By Karla von Hungen

Have we got a plan for you.  It is going to solve our air pollution problems, improve our economy,
English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...transportation and provide housing for just about everybody.  We will have more biking trails and more places to walk.  Doesn’t this sound like a city you want to live in?   Welcome to Smart Growth or Sustainable Cities brought to you by StanCOG called Valley Vision Stanislaus.

The more I looked into the Sustainable City idea, the more I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she lifted the curtain.  Here is the truth.
Cities will be required to follow the sustainable city formula made up of the three “E’s”, economy, environment and equity (social justice). These mandates, emanating from SB 375, will kill many city budgets and change forever so many unique and safe neighborhoods.  This plan is hardly smart and it is far from sustainable.
Have you seen what our City planners have in store for us?  Did you attend the latest Planning Commission Workshop on July 15, 2013?  Check out the 56-page set of documents attached to their agenda.  Nestled in these pages are maps where the City intends to build high density housing and two to three-story apartment units which will be for low-income individuals, euphemistically called “fair share housing.”
Read their definition of complete neighborhoods.  Among the characteristics of a complete neighborhood is a mix of housing types affordable to all income levels.  This housing must be placed along transportation corridors to allow convenient access to public transportation.
Where are these transportation corridors in Modesto?  According to this draft plan, they are McHenry Ave, Yosemite Blvd., Crows Landing Rd, Paradise Road, Maze Blvd, North 9th Street and others as needed.
Reviewing the  four maps illustrating where high density housing is being planned, I found two on McHenry Ave, one on Yosemite Blvd and one on Crows Landing Road.  The housing on North 9th is already being built.
For the sake of the length of this article, I will only discuss the two developments proposed by our City Planners on McHenry Ave at this time. The first is to build  20 two and three-story “multi-family units” on a .8 acre plot of land on McHenry Ave. between Elmwood Ct and Stoddard Avenue.  That particular neighborhood is a historical rare gem containing some of the most unique and interesting homes in Modesto.  It does not take much thought to realize the negative impact this high density housing would have on the immediate neighborhood.
The second proposal is a 5.5 acre site on McHenry Ave bordered by West Granger Ave, Timothy Ave and Judith Lane where they plan to build 76 townhome units and 90 two and three story multi family units. I walked the property and could not help but notice that there were businesses sitting within these borders.  I decided to visit one of them and spoke with a manager and showed her the plans.  She was speechless.  She had no idea all of this was in the works.  She told me she would contact the owner to let him know. No one I spoke to – business owners or home owners – had any knowledge of the Plan.  Most people’s initial reactions were something like, “Oh they would not do that” or “This will never happen” to “Why would the City think this is a good idea?”
The point that really drove home for me was the fact that no one seems to know about this, especially those most directly affected.  According to the Valley Vision Stanislaus website” This is a collaborative, open, transparent and inclusive process engaging businesses, community organizations and elected officials throughout Stanislaus County.” I have complained before the Modesto City Council, the StanCOG Policy Board and the Valley Vision committee meetings about the fact that the citizens of Modesto have no idea what is coming their way.  However, I am met with pat answers that since there were public workshops conducted, proper notification was done.  I ask you, the reader, do you know about any of this?
How can anyone think building more high density housing is good for Modesto?  The city receives no property taxes for this housing.  Who can say how much revenue is lost from the businesses in the bull’s eye of these plans?  It makes no sense.  As it is, cities in the Valley are struggling to support what they already have. We don’t have enough water, our fire and police departments are stretched thin, and schools will be overwhelmed.  Services have been trimmed and likewise the quality of life has spiraled downward.
Amazingly, the Plan touts local control, yet in reality, our tax dollars are hijacked to fund subsidized housing, forcing the cities to plan for falsely inflated population targets, and cities’ transit budgets are held hostage until they comply.  That is outrageous.  If the plan is so great, why use such deceptive data and strong arm tactics?
If we, the citizens, don’t stop this, it will happen.  Attend the next Planning Commission meeting on August 19th at 6:00 PM at the Modesto City Council Chambers. Watch for upcoming workshops put on by Valley Vision Stanislaus which can be found at valleyvisionstanislaus.com. Let your voice be heard. Fight for your city.  If this plan goes through, we might find ourselves one day looking around and saying to ourselves, like Dorothy, “I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.”
Karla von Hungen
Modesto Resident

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