Denny Jackman likes to say his Residential Urban Limit (RUL) proposal eliminates bait and switch tactics, which occur when developers propose commercial and industrial projects and then switch to housing.
Another thing the plan does is force players in the land-use game to show their cards. This was apparent when Jackman first put the proposal before the Modesto City Council. At that time, Village I developer and current City Council candidate Bill Zoslocki spoke against the proposal, warning about possible negative consequences of limiting housing possibilities in any way.
Zoslocki and other proponents of housing soon realized, however, that their decades-long “jobs, jobs, jobs” refrain is neatly addressed by the RUL. Since we know jobs created by housing booms offer only a temporary respite from high unemployment rates, job creation really means adding commercial and industrial business. Jackman’s proposal allows for commercial and industrial development along our major corridors—even on prime farmland.
As the full implications of the RUL sunk in, opponents of urban limits were forced into a clumsy and transparent strategy of opposition. “We fully support Mr. Jackman’s RUL,” said representatives from the Building Industry Association and Modesto Chamber of Commerce, “As long as it includes elimination of Measures A and M.”
Measures A and M give the public an authoritative voice on growth issues. As Jackman said himself, include A and M with the RUL and he’d be forced to vote against his own proposal.
Councilmember Dave Cogdill summed things up succinctly. “This is our only chance,” he said. “Unless we take out the housing element along our major corridors, all we’ll ever be is a bedroom community. Adding Measures A and M to the proposition would only confuse voters.”
Last Wednesday, Cogdill’s neat summation of the issue seemed to send Councilmember Dave Lopez into paroxysms.
“Hey guys, we’re getting’ our butts kicked. Patterson’s got Amazon, and Riverbank’s almost to Kiernan; hey guys, Patterson’s almost all the way to Carpenter,” he said repeatedly. He seemed not to understand that Jackman’s RUL allowed for Amazon or any other commercial or industrial entity.
At times, Lopez seemed to be channeling the BIA and Chamber of Commerce. It’s no secret that farmland preservation is at the bottom of their list of priorities. “We can’t be the agricultural hub and the job creator,” he said.
It appears that Dave Lopez is suffering from the distorting effects of the higher office bug bite. Since announcing he’s a candidate for county supervisor, he’s seemed eager to show the region’s pro-growth faction that he’s of them. He also doesn’t want to appear to be against farmland preservation, which is most likely why when it came time to vote he voted in favor of putting the RUL on the ballot.
It isn’t pretty when politicians try to become all things to all people, as we’ve seen recently with John McCain and Mitt Romney. Now our own Dave Lopez seems mesmerized by the prospect of moving up. He’d be better off deciding on some core values and sticking to them.