News item: The Modesto Bee reported in its Thursday edition that the Modesto City Council voted 5-2 in favor of adding Wood Colony to its General Plan map. Councilmembers Zoslocki and Lopez voted against the addition.
In politics, everything has a logical explanation. Oftentimes, the logic seems impossible to follow. Undoubtedly, to some, the Tuesday night decision looks crazy. Let’s look for some logic.
At the end of a 7 hour meeting, Mayor Garrad Marsh stated that he favored adding Wood Colony to the General Plan map in order to protect it! Despite the fact that some 300 citizens and a poll of 92 percent of Wood Colony residents oppose annexation, a 5-2 majority of the Council voted in favor.
Councilmember Jenny Kenoyer, who ran on a platform of protecting farm land, also voted to add Wood Colony. Apparently she agreed with Mayor Marsh’s reasoning.
The defect in the reasoning is that historically, developers have used Modesto’s general plan map at will to build projects where nearby landowners did not want them. This decision will enable the pattern to continue over a larger land area and within a close knit community that does not have control of what is done with property once it has been sold. In the long run, the decision will destroy Wood Colony unless it is reversed.
The Council Member Naysayers
Given the fact that Councilmember Zoslocki has had a career as an urban developer, one may think that his vote against the map change represents an anti-developer decision. However, his decision was politically motivated.
Mr. Zoslocki wants to be Mayor. What better way to gain Garrad Marsh’s former supporters than to appear listen to people and to be in favor of protecting farm land? Close observers will remember that when Mr. Zoslocki ran for office, he stated that he supported the creation of a huge business park on farm land west of Modesto. He gained office using a large pile of cash supplied mostly by developers.
Councilmember Dave Lopez also voted against the taking of Wood Colony. Undoubtedly, he heard from his constituents on the west side. Furthermore, he is running for County Supervisor. Lopez would not look good if he ignored the wishes of his constituents and took a politically unpopular action to undermine a healthy farming community. Therefore, the politically expedient thing to do was to vote no.
An Unfortunate Truth
The Modesto City Council has determined that it is not accountable to the public that it is supposed to serve. Losing Measure X was not enough to convince its members of the need to be responsive to the wishes of its constituents.
The political machine that controls the city feels it is invincible and can compel the elected representatives to do its bidding rather than abide by the wishes of the citizens.
In 1999, the regime was overthrown by an angry electorate. Will history repeat?