Editorial

76

Save the best farmland
It’s said you can fool some of the people all of the time and
all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the
people all of the time.
Save the best farmland

It’s said you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

That lesson seems to have been lost on the county planning director and the board of supervisors this week.

First, the back story. The people who own and operate Casa de Fruta put together a planned unit development. Tucked into the hills at the gateway to Pacheco Pass, the project is beautiful. And it has been successful enough that the developers petitioned the county to build a handful more homes. The problem is that the homes encroach on soils defined as prime, and a former board of supervisors approved a prohibition on developing prime lands.

But rather than consider the project on its own merits, the board threw out the policy countywide.

The move certainly does give the county more flexibility, as county Planning Director Art Henriques indicated. But it does not preserve farmland, as he further maintains.

The new directive forces people seeking to develop on prime ag land to create agricultural preserves elsewhere in the county.

But the effect is certainly the gradual loss of the very land that sustains us, the land that is home to San Benito County’s largest industry – agriculture. No net loss? Hardly.

With vast tracts of open land at the edge of the burgeoning Bay Area, San Benito County has a large role to play in helping meet regional housing needs.

We cannot push development off prime soils and forbid development nearly everywhere else through a complicated compendium of conflicting policies.

As the county tackles drafting a new general plan, areas suitable for new housing should be clearly outlined, and every effort should be made to keep housing from colliding with agriculture. That way, everybody wins.

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