By Ignacio Velazquez
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Clearly, developers have learned that they can fool us as many times as they would like by repeating the same lies and spending big money on elected officials that will help them get what they want.
Once again hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent by developers to trick our community into believing that they will magically transform our community if we once again allow them to do what they want. The story being told is always the same by the developers, let us do this project and your community will have thousands of jobs and millions of extra tax dollars for your community. What we really get is more traffic, more issues with our infrastructure and eventually more taxes that we have to pay to clean up the mess.
Developers will be spending over $500,000 in this election waving their newest shiny object. They want to convince voters that life will be better in SBC if we believe them just one more time and vote yes on Measure N. But what is really going on?
What is Measure N? Developers want to rezone over 2,771 acres along Highway 25 and Shore Road to develop for purposes they do not make completely clear. The claim by developers is that if they are allowed to rezone the area they will build a test track for autonomous vehicles and businesses that will include commercial and industrial facilities and a town center.
What the developers don’t say is that if they bypass the normal process of public hearings they can pretty much do what they want if voters approve Measure N. In a recent lawsuit over this development a local judge wrote, “Again, if the reader doesn’t understand what the starting point is, that 2,771 acres could be residential. It could be zoned for residential and the reader just doesn’t necessarily understand by reading the question where the starting point is.”
This is an area that developers have long sought as a location to build thousands of new homes. Developers know they will never get the support they need if they were honest about their true intentions to build homes, but if they disguise it as more jobs and tax revenue they just might be able to fool us once again.
Here are a few things to think about: Why would the Strada Verde developer, a homebuilder, want to build a test track for autonomous vehicles when all they have ever built are massive housing developments? Why won’t they guarantee that they have no intention of building homes? Why not just build this facility around the airport where over 1,500 acres are already zoned for commercial/industrial use and has the existing infrastructure for such a project? Do you really want to sit in more traffic along Highway 25?
Developers like to portray me as anti-growth and do whatever they can to try to silence me with attacks by groups that they create and fund. I’m actually for smart growth. I will continue to stand up for the public, I will continue to ask tough questions and I will continue to ask for proof rather than just false promises from developers. What I have said many times, is that if we take the time to plan correctly, we can have projects that actually do make sense, projects that pay all of their own costs and bring in positive revenue to our community.
Let’s not get fooled again! Stay safe and love you all!
Ignacio Velazquez is mayor of Hollister.