I am writing to provide some perspective on what San Benito can expect if Measure R passes.
This measure is aimed at killing the Strada Verde Innovation Center, which has been under consideration as a source of economic development, revenues and jobs for San Benito County for three years. It is a proposed testing and proving facility for self-driving cars and would include substantial research and development facilities that would bring good jobs at all levels of the skills spectrum and millions of dollars per year for the county, San Benito schools and other important agencies which deliver critical services residents rely on.
It was recently highlighted by Gov. Gavin Newsom as an important project to help California continue to lead the nation in the fight against climate change by developing technologies that can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and improve safety. Measure R would stifle this project before it begins by creating an arbitrary buffer zone that would prohibit commercial development within 3.5 miles of the TriCal facility.
Proponents of Measure R say it is about safety. What they do not tell you is that it would eliminate the safety agreement between Strada Verde Innovation Center and TriCal to relocate potentially significant chemicals away from TriCal and the proposed innovation center. Instead, those chemicals will remain onsite at TriCal with no additional safety policies.
So, what is it really about then? From my conversation with the principal proponent, it is because he personally does not support the innovation center. Do not let the technical language in the ballot measure fool you. This is about preventing the construction of Strada Verde, plain and simple.
Missing out on Strada Verde would be a real loss for San Benito County. Independent economic analysis estimates that at buildout the project will generate more than $3.5 million in annual surplus revenues to the county’s General Fund, create thousands of jobs, fund $19 million in one-time road impact fees with an additional $2 million in annual Measure G revenues to go toward fixing San Benito’s roads, and more than $8 million in property taxes for San Benito’s schools. The project will also contribute $20-$25 million to completely renovate Veteran’s Park.
Strada Verde creates new high-paying job opportunities that will create opportunities for many people who currently have to commute to San Jose or farther, as well as create the chance for the future generations of San Benito County to pursue careers here instead of having to move away. It will play an important role in combating climate change and transforming the world’s transportation systems.
It funds critical county services like road repair, public safety and social services. It creates new revenues for schools to address needed infrastructure repairs and more.
Measure R is opposed by the San Benito Democratic Party, Republican Party, Chamber of Commerce, and Farm Bureau, local labor unions, fire fighters, Sheriff Eric Taylor, farmers, ranchers and many more. I urge you to vote No on Measure R.