County Pulse: Council to eye urban limit

kcarlson@modbee.comJune 7, 2013 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken

Three Modesto City Council members decided this week that Denny Jackman's residential urban limit should be studied at a workshop in July.

In April, the city leaders decided not to consider the boundary line for a ballot measure in November, but wanted city planners and the council's economic development committee to vet the idea.

After some discussion Wednesday, council members Dave Cogdill Jr., Stephanie Burnside and Dave Geer told staff to hold a workshop for considering the residential boundary within the context of the general plan update. Staff will set a date and invite the usual groups that are interested in growth politics.

Jackman, a former councilman, wants to disallow residential subdivisions north of Pelandale Avenue. The orchards and fertile soils between Modesto and the Stanislaus River have been a battleground in the past. Six years ago, Stanislaus County leaders approved a contested plan to cover 3,400 acres with business parks, a large commercial area and 4,500 homes for Salida.

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce and friends are now pushing a blueprint for prosperity. They want to designate even more land for business parks and expand Highway 132 as a primary route to the Bay Area.

City leaders will have to create a vision for Modesto growth as they work on the first major general plan update since 1995. They will decide where to encourage business parks and where to build homes if there's a market for them. With the current makeup of the City Council, the chamber has a decent chance of making an imprint on the growth plan, although there's an election in November.

For those who want to establish a firm residential boundary for Modesto, the phrase "buried in committee" comes to mind.

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MEMORIAL NURSES — The California Nurses Association hasn't given up on organizing about 1,000 nurses at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. It appears not everyone read the memo that it's OK for employees to distribute pro-union literature. On Aug. 5, an administrative law judge in Oakland will consider charges that Memorial or its parent organization violated nurses' rights to free speech under federal labor law.

A complaint says that Director of Education Terry Lynch in February stopped employees from distributing fliers outside the Health Education and Conference Center at the McHenry Village shopping center. The center is a resource for staff and patients of Memorial and the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.

In December, the National Labor Relations Board cited Memorial for a violation last August in which security guards confiscated pro-union fliers from an off-duty nurse inside the hospital at Briggsmore Avenue and Coffee Road. The hospital has agreed to post notices and do other things to notify employees of their right to unionize.

If the nurses decide to join the union, Modesto's three large hospitals (Memorial, Doctors and Kaiser) all will be union shops. A vote for Memorial nurses has not been scheduled yet.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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