What do Salidans want for Salida?
What do others want for Salida?
Those are different questions, of course, and the answers will emerge in coming months as citizens and local government leaders deliberate whether Salida should be annexed to the city of Modesto or remain an unincorporated community.
A third option, Salida becoming a separate city, might remain a long-term possibility, but there isn't the money for it to become independent now.
Any day, Stanislaus County and city of Modesto officials will release a consultant's report on how such a big change would pencil out on paper.
Some Salidans already know how they feel about this subject. They're not interested in being annexed to Modesto.
Others are at least waiting to at least see what the analysis says.
While we haven't seen a copy, we do know from both city and county leaders that the report won't come close to answering all of the many questions about this subject.
And it isn't a simple land-use discussion. It isn't the kind of discussion we have very often because there hasn't been an annexation proposal of this magnitude in recent history, if ever, according to the planning agency that handles these things.
Today we address some of the key questions already on people's minds:
Where is the Salida-Modesto boundary now?
The current Modesto city limit lies north of Pelandale Avenue, just below the irrigation district lateral canal. The shopping complex that includes Costco, Lowe's and the other big retailers, as well as the big Kaiser hospital complex, are all on the Modesto side of the boundary.
Who oversees Salida today and who provides its basic services?
That's a mixed bag.
The town of 13,700 is overseen by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, which makes decisions about land use, street improvements, etc. The Sheriff's Department provides law enforcement.
Fire and other emergency response is provided by the Salida Fire Protection District, which is now a partner in the Modesto Regional Fire Authority. Sewer service is provide by the independent Salida Sanitary District. Urban Salida residents get their water from Modesto, which some years ago bought out the private Del Este Water Co.
Who represents Salida?
Voters of Salida elect the five members of the Municipal Advisory Council, which advises the Board of Supervisors on key issues, especially Terry Withrow, who represents District 3. The district has about 100,000 people, however, so Salida isn't his only focus.
There's been talk of Modesto annexing Salida off and on for decades. Why the sudden push now?
After he was elected in 2010, Withrow raised a very legitimate question about whether the Salida Community Plan, adopted in 2007, was realistic given that the housing market collapsed.
But the issue was simmering on the back burner until Garrad Marsh was elected Modesto mayor last spring and he tossed out the idea of annexation in his State of the City. Since then, city and county officials agreed to the study.
Why would Modesto want Salida? The prize, if you will, is Kiernan Avenue. This newly widened highway is considered Modesto's best prospect for business parks and other economic development. The thinking is that the location will appeal to new business. Not tested, of course, is whether the the business parks would attract new employers or those simply relocating from other Modesto area sites.
Doesn't the county want business development also?
Yes, and therein lies a potential for conflict between the city and county, although it's not out in the open at the moment.
Marsh believes Modesto is in a better position to develop business parks for several reasons, including the fact that it can provide water to this area. The city might not agree to provide water to business parks if the area remains in the county. When Modesto City Schools built Gregori in this area, the district had to install its own wells.
Why would Salida get annexed to Modesto when there are other, smaller neighborhoods, such as the airport district, that have wanted to be part of the city for years?
This could become a key point in city-county negotiations. Some county officials may figure that if Modesto wants Salida so much, it should also take some of the smaller county pockets as well.
What happens if annexation doesn't proceed?
The general land uses are locked in by the Salida Community Plan (shown on this page), which the Board of Supervisors adopted in 2007 instead of putting the proposals to voters, as The Bee and many others would have preferred at the time. The community plan envisions hundreds of half-million dollar homes, a major shopping center and business park all relying on development fees from the houses. Even though this plan is unachievable now, it cannot be changed in the next two decades without a vote of the people.
Salidans want to know more basic things, such as: Will our property taxes go up if we become part of the city? The general tax rate is the same across the county. The differences in tax bills relates to school bonds, Mello-Roos and special district taxes. Those would not be affected by annexation.
Won't Salida lose its identity and sense of community if annexed?
This is the core of the issue for many. The annexation would not affect the Salida Elementary School District, and Salidans are already part of the larger Modesto High School District.
If annexation goes through, Salida would be represented by one of the six members of the City Council as part of a district that would include the adjoining city area.
To address this loss of identity, Marsh has suggested that Salida could have its own planning commission as a subcommittee of the Modesto Planning Commission.
Whether Salida would keep or lose its post office would be a question for the U.S. Postal Service.
What is The Bee's editorial recommendation on annexation?
We don't have one yet. The financial analysis will be important, but it is critical to know the preferences of Salidans once they know the many short-term and long-term impacts.