If you’ve been reading the Modesto Bee lately, you might think Dave Lopez and Bill Zoslocki are guardians of the farmland Garrad Marsh and Jenny Kenoyer are trying so hard to cover with asphalt. Kenoyer and Marsh have been framed as sell-outs and there’s even talk of a recall.
It’s a far cry from what many hoped would be a farm-friendly government led by Marsh, whose years as a Modesto City Councilman put him firmly in the ag-preservation camp.
But when Marsh opened his term in office with a proposal to annex Salida, the blowback was immediate, intense, and self-propagating. Even now that Wood Colony has become an even bigger issue than Salida, the Salida people have fused the two issues into one loud and long, “NO WAY, NO HOW!”
It’s almost as though everyone has forgotten the “Salida Now” Initiative of 2007. This was the proposal to build 5,000 houses, a business park and commercial units smack dab in the middle of the little burg everyone thinks is going to remain farm-friendly.
“Salida Now” was backed by 25,000 signatures—over 10,000 more signatures than the entire population of Salida. “Salida Now” never even went before the people: Stanislaus County Supervisors voted 3-2 to accept it as written, and, after some grumbling, the measure became a blueprint for Salida’s future.
Those with vested interests in developing Salida aren’t about to let an ag-loving Mayor get in the way of 5,000 houses, and the best way to stymie his efforts is through a campaign that takes advantage of people’s poor memories and discredits good intentions.
That’s why today’s news includes an open letter from Mayor Marsh attempting to explain his position on preserving farmland. But once a politician has been put in the position of having to explain himself, he’s already lost the battle. Marsh has become a lightning-rod for suspicion and recrimination, and the biggest benefactors are promoters of the Asphalt Empire.
Though his intentions regarding Wood Colony have been to preserve it for agriculture, Marsh lost the media game when Salida became his defining issue. He’s also misunderstood the significance of trying to include Wood Colony in the City’s General Plan, even as designated farmland. It’s far better to have a General Plan with clear urban boundaries.
If he’s going to have any success at all, or even a second term, Marsh needs to act fast to restore people’s confidence in his dedication to farmland preservation. The best way to do that is propose firm urban boundaries—something long overdue for a city whose northern and western borders comprise the best farmland in the world.
With “Keep Wood Colony Green” signs sprouting like mushrooms after a spring rain, Marsh will find no better time to generate support for urban limits with prime farmland out of bounds. He will also force the key players for the Asphalt Empire to show their hands once and for all.
Bill Zoslocki is already on record as being against urban limits of any kind. Dave Lopez is trying to be even more pro-growth than Dick Monteith, the County Supervisor he hopes to replace. Confronted with the possibility of urban boundaries, both will show their true colors.
With firm urban boundaries protecting our best soils, farmland preservation takes a huge leap forward and Garrad Marsh leaves a proud legacy. Without such bold action, the Asphalt Empire rides the oncoming growth boom into yet another era of paved-over promises.
Emerson Drake says
Unfortunately I no longer believe Marsh can trusted, His letter published in the Bee and on facebook in several places, is filled with half truths and deceptions and is an example of the desperate lengths he has been driven to because of his own actions towards Salida and Wood Colony. RUL will only protect farmland from home building but does nothing but provide an illusion of a defense against business parks, This is why the Council wants to lure the public into voting to eliminate Measures A and M as these are the last bastion of control the public has over runaway development. We need to find someone else to provide leadership for smart development. And, much to my frustration, I see no one stepping forward to fill the much needed shoes for Ag preservation.
Eric Caine says
I have not seen Marsh in favor of eliminating A and M. In fact, I believe the Chamber proposed eliminating A and M as a condition for supporting the RUL. Have I missed something? Is elimination of A and M going to be on the ballot? Who voted for it?
Emerson Drake says
Codgill made the proposal to the council and from what I heard that night it’s my understanding that at this point they want to find a way to present it to the voting public in a way we won’t be ‘confused’ this encountering voter ‘burn out.’ When it was discussed Marsh seemed to be backing the idea saying with RUL we didn’t need A and M.
Denny Jackman deserves a hand for his effort to preserve farmland. His mistake is believing a deal can be made on both sides to preserve farmland. That is not going to happen. Developer interests will never support real ag. preservation plans that will acrually work. When Cecil Russell goes up to the microphone and pledges the Chamber’s support behind Denny Jackman’s proposal, I would get very suspicious. I suspect, the developers behind the chamber will work on ways to get around Denny Jackman’s proposal. It could be by directing the houses to the non-prime soils and the warehouses to the prime soils which are exempt under the RUL.
Here on the West Side, the City of Newman is working on ” urban limit lines ” in order to comply with LAFCO’s requirement or preserving farmland. The BIA is in favor of Newman’s plan. Why? Because there is so much land between City Limits and the Urban LImit lines that Newman cannot growout that far in the specifiec time frame anyway. So what looks good is nothing more than a sham.
In regards to Zoslocki and Dave Lopez, the people from Wood Colony who were applauding these two council persons don’t really understand where these two are coming from. They are not agreeing to keep Wood Colony out of the General Plan. They were just against making the recent changes to the General Plan. They are simply postponing the inclusion of Wood Colony into the City until a Comprehensive General Plan is adopted. During that process, the City could add thousands of acres from Wood Colony into the General Plan (even more than is currently in the plan) and I would bet that Zolocki and Lopez would support such a move.
Emerson Drake says
Unfortunately Denny watered down RUL in order to get broad based support. It became ineffective when it only covered Home building. What was also interesting was to hear lobbyist Cecil Russell support the removal of Salida from Modesto’s General Plan and then to see the four councilmen most closely alighted to the Chamber vote Salida’s inclusion. It make you think Salida’s inclusion was a foregone conclusion from the beginning and the protestations were merely a cover.
west sider says
That is how the developers want it. Just like the developers have done in Patterson
Eric Caine says
There is nothing official on A and M and I’m betting Marsh will oppose repealing them.
Katherine Borges says
Eric, you need to attend the meetings or at least verify your facts with the people who go to meetings before you make blanket pronouncements like, “…the Salida people have fused the two issues into one…”. Speaking as a “Salida person”, we never had any goal to fuse the two annexations into one; the relatedness of the two was pointed out to us by Jake Wenger whom I’ll quote, “If Salida falls, Wood Colony will follow; and if Wood Colony falls, Salida will follow.” and Jake is right, because whichever side falls, its one step closer to becoming boxed in by Modesto. Both communities have quite a big stake in maintaining our independence, albeit for different reasons.
With the two communities being united in this battle against tyranny, you need to keep in mind that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE COUNCILMEMBERS CAST A VOTE AGAINST US. And don’t pretend like Marsh is some big time ag advocate; his letter to the Bee contains a land grab (around Gregori) for Modesto on the “Salida Now” plan – so are you going to overlook that as if its ok if Modesto develops that land, but not Salida? Don’t go damning the “Asphalt Empire” he’s the one leading the charge!
Lastly, if you or anyone else really believe that his “Mayor’s Alternative” map is ag friendly, then you need to get your eyes examined for color-blindness! His map contains a big red “commercial” section at the top, and a big purple “business park” section at the bottom. And a gerrymandered notch cut out on Beckwith to try to prevent those residents from reaching 51% to vote against the annexation. If Marsh has become a “lightning rod”, its because he’s dipped himself in metal and is standing on top of Annexation Mountain!
Eric Caine says
Thank you Katharine. I was at the meeting when Cecil Russell suggested dropping A and M in exchange for supporting Denny’s RUL. I did not see support from a majority of the Council. From the point of view of developers, it doesn’t matter whether the 5,000 houses proposed for “Salida Now” are in Salida or Modesto. There is also a “commercial section” in “Salida Now.” None of “Salida Now” seems ag-friendly.
Katherine Borges says
Eric, I am only referring to comments like your Salida one as if we had “fused” the two as Jake’s quote was referenced at several meetings. Perhaps next time you want to pin something or apply a label to Salida, you check its accuracy with me first?
And you’re right, there is nothing about the Salida Now plan which is ag friendly, but its a development plan and wasn’t intended to be ag-friendly. I just take great exception to Marsh using it for his OpEd piece as if that 25-year development plan had been gifted upon Modesto by the Board of Supervisors. Its absolutely galling how shabby he and the other council members treat Salida! And its soooo hypocritical to bill him as an ag propenent when he wants to land grab and pave over Salida!
Emerson, you should run for mayor. Why don’t you run? We need a leader.