Measure Q gives San Benito voters the power to stop outside developers from ruining your county. I’ve seen many rural counties get run over by developers who convince local government officials to change their zoning: The developers come in, build, sell and take their profits. They leave behind traffic, urban sprawl, overcrowded schools and water problems. You can stop this by giving yourselves a voice in San Benito County‘s future—by voting YES on Measure Q.
I represented San Benito County in Congress for 24 years. I thought making Pinnacles a National Park would give your local economy a boost and San Benito would prosper by building on its natural assets. Sadly, your supervisors allowed a Texas landfill company to make a handsome profit by using San Benito as the region’s garbage dump.
None of your supervisors’ decisions—to approve sprawl development, the poorly planned nodes and imported garbage—would be allowed in counties like Monterey or Santa Cruz. Your supervisors don’t recognize that urban sprawl and importing a mountain of garbage will never bring economic prosperity. With the incredible agricultural assets of your county, you have a jewel to be treasured, not trashed.
As a Monterey County Supervisor, I saw some bad projects approved by our board but later rejected by the Coastal Commission. Coastal counties like Monterey and Santa Cruz have a check on bad development. Your county doesn’t.
Measure Q gives you the power to review and change your supervisors’ development decisions. Just giving the voters that power will make your supervisors do their job much better because they know that you have the final say.
As a Democrat, I’m troubled to see San Benito Democratic Central Committee leaders fall for developers’ false promises of local jobs and local taxes. Just the opposite happens: The developers bring their low-wage, out-of-county workforce to build projects, pressure the supervisors to cut their impact fees, and never help the school districts deal with overcrowding. It’s very wrong.
Historically, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties were one county, where California was born. Today, these counties’ economies are sustained by tourism and agriculture. They’re “In and out” economies: Tourists drive in and agricultural products are driven out. Crowded roads kill both.
Your neighbors are promoting their historic places, expanding wine trails, hosting cultural events and farmers’ markets, and fixing up underutilized parks. Join them in making our Central Coast counties the best places to visit—to see stunning landscapes, learn early California history and enjoy the heart of organic agriculture in the U.S. Display San Benito’s beauty. Don’t cover it up with urban sprawl and other people’s garbage.
Look at other California counties on the edge of urban areas (SF and LA) that have prospered: Napa, Sonoma and Ventura. They all adopted measures like Q to stop out-of-control development over 25 years ago. Their voters get to approve good development and stop bad development. Learn from them.
The great thing about living in America is that bad decisions can be changed. Give yourselves the authority to control the future of your county. Don’t let outsiders steal your county for their own profit. Please vote YES on Measure Q.
Sam Farr is a former U.S. Congressman who represented San Benito County from 1993-2017.