It is difficult to know where to begin. The hysteria, misinformation and name-calling The Bee engaged in regarding the Salida Now initiative must have a response. Yet, like the courageous county supervisors who supported the proposal, our initiative is subject to unrelenting attack. We can’t win a debate with The Bee, especially when common standards of journalistic integrity are discarded in favor of tabloid hyperbole and outright falsehoods.
Nonetheless, here goes.
Salida Now reflects 10 years of planning and community outreach. General plan and zoning designations are established. It requires subsequent environmental analysis, public hearings and discretionary approvals prior to construction. Salida Now is a blueprint, not a building permit. Contrary to The Bee’s assertion that the board “gave up its right to say ‘no’ to the project as a whole,” the initiative provides a guarantee to build exactly nothing.
The Bee implies that the board’s decision was rushed. Huh? Here are the facts. After years of planning and 37public meetings, the board on Jan. 25, 2005, sought additional community input. Public hearings were held; 5,335 surveys were distributed, and 580 were returned.
This resulted in the Salida Community Plan, which the board endorsed after a public hearing July 19, 2005. Planning continued. On Jan. 17, 2006, the board voted to accept the recommendations of the Salida Ad Hoc Committee. There was a public hearing at that meeting.
On April 24, 2007, the board conducted a public hearing and approved a refined Salida Community Plan. Salida Now incorporates this plan.
There were also more than 25 presentations to groups such as Rotary clubs and chambers of commerce as well as the Salida Municipal Advisory Council. The MAC, after two public hearings, endorsed Salida Now.
So, when The Bee states “the lone public meeting was Tuesday morning in downtown Modesto,” the public is misled.
We even met with The Bee’s editorial board. We explained the initiative and offered to answer any questions. We never heard back. However, in its follow-up editorial, The Bee stated that Salida Now should be approved if the benefits outweighed the impacts. Well, isn’t the Board of Supervisors elected to weigh these issues and make a decision? That is exactly what they did — their job. The Bee says this represents “contempt for the public.” No, it's called responsible leadership.
The Bee’s editorial attack also fails to discuss other important details. No reference is made to the $400,000 an election would have cost taxpayers. These dollars were saved by the board’s action. The Bee doesn’t bother to mention the forecast that after buildout of Salida Now, the current annual $3 million fiscal deficits will become $3 million surpluses, a yearly shift of $6 million. Isn’t this information relevant?
The Bee misleads the public about farmland preservation fails to mention the requirement for “effective transitions” between agricultural and urban uses. Worse, they don’t even point out that Salida Now requires an acre of in-kind, equal quality farmland to be preserved for every acre of housing. This is an unprecedented commitment to farmland preservation.
Salida Now initiates a new expressway whichthat will link Highway 99 to communities in the east. It’s is a 10 lanes facility fully funded by the project all the way to Dale Road, not only four lanes “with no identified funding for it.”
We are proud of our efforts to help Salida take a major step toward cityhood. We’re also proud of SupervisorsJeff Grover, Jim DeMartini and Dick Monteith, who did the right thing for our community. They knew how The Bee would react. Thankfully, they also knew the right thing to do and did it.
Murphy and Moore serve on the Salida Now organizing committee.