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Thu, Oct 23 2003

Now They're Holding Water Hostage

This would be a local rant for Santa Cruz County, but the rest of you may read and see issues similar in your own area. Measure U was voted in by people in the city limits of the town of Watsonville, and those of us who live in county unincorporated areas were not allowed to vote on the issue. It was touted as "restricting growth", but what it actually does is restrict certain areas while allowing rampant development of other areas-- areas which are closer to the coastline and which are currently inhabited by a unique system of plant and animal life, with low-density housing in a beautiful area of rolling hills adjacent to Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway, also known as PCH). Measure U will come back to haunt everyone, with its push to develop more and more rural areas of the county in favor of high density "low-income" housing. (In case you're reading this from another state, I should point out that "low-income" still means homes in excess of $200,000). The local people of need in the county will still be hard-pressed to purchase a home of their own in these mega-developments. What we're going to have is a county full of rural high-density cookie-cutter two-story (view destroying) homes, with very little thought given instead to attracting businesses with jobs that would produce wages reflecting the very real California high cost of living. What appears at first to be a hand up is actually a way to keep low-income people labeled as "low-income". Those of you who opt to read thismight be interested to know that County Supervisor Tony Campos, who is mentioned in the article, is in the real estate business and was former mayor of Watsonville. And you can bet he won't be living in (or next to) any of the cookie cutters they build in this rush to bulldoze every strip of green land left on this side of town. I don't get to vote against Watsonville politicians, but because I live in Watsonville's "sphere of influence" I have to put up with their politics anyway.

When we moved to this neighborhood less than a decade ago there was a moratorium on certain kinds of new construction, because there is a growing problem of water quality (mostly due to salt-water intrusion). Now they've seen fit to push water conservation aside in favor of adding new homes to their local tax base. The numbers will be impressive. You can cram a lot of two-story homes (and people) into 500 annexed acres. You can call them "low-income" or "affordable" or any other politically fertile name you wish. But The real cost to the area is not going to be measured in dollars and cents.

posted at: 08:35 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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