Dear Editor:

Does anyone in San Benito County, much less a farmer or rancher, want to see San Benito County have over 56,000 acres of Agricultural Productive (AP) land in five-acre parcels? With a potential 11,000 dwelling units and an estimated possible population of 36,000 more people, how could our roads and schools and water resources handle that? The county’s current general plan has over 659,000 acres of Agricultural Rangeland (AR) zoned at forty-acre minimum. That could potentially project to over 16,000 additional dwelling units with a population projection of over 52,000. These figures do not even include the potential growth in rural and rural/urban zoned areas. Practical limitations such as flood plain in the AP land and steep slopes, fire hazard, lack of roads and services, and limited water in AR would, of course, restrict such potential buildout.

Thank you, Tom Tobias and the local Farm Bureau, for your concern over our county’s continued growth potential. Yes, “most of the proposed restrictions are already covered by our county code.” This initiative, however, will preserve these restrictions unless modified or amended by the voters of San Benito County.

This measure is called a Growth Control Initiative. It seeks to concentrate growth near urban areas with available services. This measure seeks to preserve our prime valley farmland and direct major growth to areas of less productive soil. Adequate services will have to be available for housing to be built, whether in an urban or rural area. Current legal parcels in AP and AR areas will remain valid.

The increasing number of 5-acre parcels has and would continue to eat away at our productive agricultural land base. To keep agricultural land in larger parcels makes sense for most agricultural operations.

Each of us who owns farm or ranch land is only a steward of that land for a finite period of time. Selling agricultural land to another farmer or rancher allows that land to stay productive and the former owner or his family to receive monetary compensation. In this day and age children or grandchildren may not want responsibility for a particular piece of property and prefer money.

This initiative does plan for more responsible growth. As the county develops its Transferable Development Credit program, AP and AR owners can help the county, through the public hearings, craft the best possible program.

Janet Brians


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