In a recent Facebook post, Emerson Drake announced that I had “gone over to the dark side”* because I sent an email to Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh indicating that I would like to be contacted when the ballot argument against the Stamp Out Sprawl (SOS) initiative is written.
Apparently, Mr. Drake intends to post a copy of my email to Mayor Marsh without the courtesy of asking my permission and without interviewing me to get my complete viewpoint on the subject. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to clarify my opinion for the public record.
The Need for Urban Limit Lines
Ever since Denny Jackman proposed establishing urban limit lines in the 1990’s, I have consistently supported the idea. When I served on the Modesto City Council, Councilmember Jackman and I attempted to place an urban limit line measure on the ballot. We lost by a 4 to 3 vote. The simple idea is that urban limit lines protect farm land in perpetuity.
When Mr. Jackman told me years ago that he was going to put an urban limit line measure on the ballot by collecting signatures, I supported the idea. However, Mr. Jackman scrapped the measure because he told me that he thought he could accomplish the preservation of farm land with mitigation measures that would eliminate the need for urban limit lines.
When Mr. Jackman told me this year that he had decided to proceed with a new initiative, Stamp Out Sprawl, I initially supported the effort . Mr. Jackman had lost patience with local government leaders after they broke promises to protect farmland. Furthermore, the City of Modesto announced that it planned to take Wood Colony for a giant business park and annex Salida.
The Landscape has Changed
After the City of Modesto announced that it planned to annex Salida, a very vocal group of Salidans denounced the Modesto plan and announced their intention to incorporate. One of the leaders of the Salida group told me that after Salida is incorporated, it will need to annex and urbanize a large amount of farm land around the community in order to build the tax base. The Salida Plan has already been created and will take land presently in Modesto’s sphere of influence.
If Modesto establishes urban limit lines, then Salida will have no opposition to wholesale annexation and urbanization of farm land. Modesto will no longer control the sphere of influence it currently has near the Salida community. Unintentionally, Modesto’s new urban limit lines could open the door for urban developers of farmland via the Salida Plan.
My goal of preserving farm land hasn’t changed. I sent the email to Mayor Marsh about the ballot argument for SOS before the measure qualified for the ballot. In sending the email, I had hoped changes would occur in the political atmosphere between the major players—the City of Modesto, Stanislaus County, Wood Colony residents, and citizens of Salida.
After I sent the email (but not necessarily because of it), Mayor Marsh proposed to drop Wood Colony from the General Plan in exchange for a promise by Stanislaus County not to develop a business park within the agricultural community. County Supervisor Terry Withrow and other Supervisors immediately asked the County CEO to start a dialog with the city on Mayor Marsh’s proposal.
Stamp Out Sprawl has qualified for the 2015 ballot. The ballot argument will be written during the next calendar year. While I have not officially taken a position, I will make a final decision whether or not to support SOS as close to the election as possible. My support will go in the direction of whatever is best to preserve prime farm land around the City of Modesto. Hopefully, local leaders can agree on preservation of farm land before the vote.
If there are no agreements, then the voters will have their say to impose a partial solution. But more initiatives will be necessary to establish permanent limit lines for urban areas outside of Modesto. Farm land is needed for the wellbeing of future generations, period.
*Here’s the Facebook post by Emerson Drake:
“Stamp Out Sprawl has new opposition. Bruce Frohman has gone over to the dark side and has contacted Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh to co-author the con or opposition to SOS on the ballot. More to come. Watch EyeOnModesto.com for more information including the damning emails to be released soon.”
Eric Caine says
Emerson Drake had trouble posting the following. Let us know when you have trouble with “comments” and we will make sure you are heard. This from Emerson Drake:
“Shades of Jenny Kenoyer, come on Bruce. Your email wasn’t between private citizens, it was sent to the Mayor of Modesto at his ‘official’ city email so there was no expectation of privacy. It was obtained by a public record request which focused on developers in the Salida area, so asking for permission to publish it would seem to be a moot point.
As for your vociferous explanation of your position, offering to co-author the ‘con’ ballot argument to SOS was pretty self explanatory from my point of view.”
Katherine Borges says
Bruce, I was quite disappointed to read the two e-mails sent by you to Mayor Marsh that turned up in the public information request. First and foremost, I was shocked to learn that you’re an OPPONENT of SOS! That you would offer to co-author a ballot initiative AGAINST SOS is positively shocking!! Your exact words to the mayor on August 27, 2014 were: “Would you consider co-authoring a ballot argument, including me as a signatory?” There’s nothing vague about that as you imply in your Valley Citizen blog post. Of course you have the right to change your mind, but the mayor did “concur with your assessment” as he stated in his reply.
But maybe I shouldn’t be shocked because its probably just as simple as you are cut from the same imperialistic and agenda-driven cloth as the entire current sitting Modesto City Council. And with your comments about Salida in both e-mails, you’ve also proven you’re just as brainwashed as the rest of them!
Not in this universe nor any other does Modesto get to decide the fate of Salida!! Salida residents will decide the fate of Salida and NO ONE ELSE!!! You have a galling amount of nerve to suggest that Mayor Marsh impose rules and restrictions upon Salida whether its in SOS or in the letter from the county, buts what’s even better is that he can’t do a thing about it! And I know you’re not referring to me when you said, “One of the leaders of the Salida group told me that after Salida is incorporated, it will need to annex and urbanize a large amount of farm land around the community in order to build the tax base.” because first of all, Salida has plenty of land in the Salida Community Plan – we do NOT need to annex outside of it. Its the same land that Modesto wants to sprawl so don’t even bother getting self-righteous about it. Secondly, I don’t know of a single soul in Salida who wishes to sprawl into Wood Colony. Its YOUR CITY, its YOUR COUNCIL who is moving to do that – NOT MINE! Look in the mirror Mr. SOS-opponent if you want to see someone trying to dictate who gets to urbanize and who doesn’t because its NOT coming from Salida!
Eric Caine says
Like Emerson, Bruce had some trouble commenting, so we’re posting his comments below. We will continue to try to find out why there are intermittent problems with posting. Glad Katharine was able to get through. Here are Bruce’s comments:
“Katherine Borges is the person who actually inspired me to write the emails to Mayor Marsh! She is the Salidan who I interpreted as saying that after her town is incorporated, she will do her best to annex adjacent farmland ‘to build the tax base.’ Will Wood Colony be betrayed and added to Salida, too? Ms. Borges, if I misunderstood your intentions, then I apologize.
I wholeheartedly approve of what SOS intends to accomplish, but can’t support it if the end result is more urban sprawl than would have otherwise occurred. I don’t want Modesto to annex Salida because I know the citizens of Salida don’t want to join our community.
If wanting to keep the land in farming makes me an imperialist, well so be it.
Regarding Mr. Drake’s comment, I have no expectation of privacy when I write an email. However, I was quite surprised that the Mayor of Modesto’s email is being monitored so that those who may disagree with Mr. Drake’s viewpoint can be attacked without opportunity to respond. To have emails monitored in such a fashion seems Orwellian. Characterizing me, a private citizen, as having gone to the dark side for wanting to participate in the discussion is insulting and unreasonable. It is regrettable that some folks cannot engage in a discussion without name calling and personal attacks.
I have submitted to the Valley Citizen a second part of the article further elaborating my concerns with SOS. I look forward to reading additional criticisms.”
Katherine Borges says
Bruce, you are right that you misunderstood! I have never said that Salida should annex any land outside of the Salida Community Plan.
And I’m not calling you an ‘imperialist’ because you say you want to save farm land, I’m calling you an imperialist for trying to dictate what Salida can and can’t do! Maybe you don’t recall what you wrote to Mayor Marsh so let me refresh your memory, “May I suggest you draft the agreement, including a provision that if Salida incorporates, it may not touch Wood Colony. See if a majority of the Council will agree to it.” What “Council”? The Salida Municipal Advisory Council? No of course not, you’re just another brainwashed former Modesto Councilman who wants to boss Salida around.
Emerson Drake says
Well Bruce it seems when you choose to twist the truth you go all in. Ms. Borges set you straight when it comes to your comments which maligned her so I’ll just discuss those in which you mentioned me.
The Brown Act has been in effect since 2003 and has been used by individuals and groups locally including the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association to ascertain what our government is up to.
Mayor Marsh’s emails are not monitored. The are archived for only 30 days and then deleted. For this law to be around for 11 years and you not be aware of it should be a concern for those who would believe you are ‘up to speed’ on local and statewide political events.
Again when you offered to co-author the con argument against SOS it was obvious to me and everyone else who reads it as to where you are coming from, After all you didn’t offer to write the pro-argument.
No names were called and no personal attacks were made. I simply relayed to my “facebook friends” your stance on this issue. Eric relayed my comments to you and you chose to write a public diatribe playing the poor picked on former something or other now private citizen without consulting me…:) Apparently you can email a public persona like the Mayor at his official city email address and expect not to be outed but I can’t write on my PRIVATE page my discoveries in the realm of PUBLIC records without someone getting their panties in a bunch.
Consider your raise called.
Have a nice day, and may the force be with you, well at least after it brings you around to the side of goodness and light.