This commentary was contributed by Brian Schmidt, interim legislative advocate for Green Foothills which provided campaign consultation in support of Protect San Benito. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
Green Foothills congratulates, and thanks, the people of San Benito County for resoundingly rejecting Measure N, a truck-traffic producing, misleading developer initiative that would have created the start of a new city north of Hollister and San Juan Bautista.
It is especially heartening that the people rejected the measure without having previously encountered this type of attempt to undermine the democratic process and use the vote of the people as a way to escape a full environmental analysis. We at Green Foothills have seen it before, just two years ago in San Jose, when some of the same interests supporting Measure N tried to do the same thing. Developers proposed Measure B in San Jose in 2018, imposing sprawl development on ranchland east of the city and changing rules for development elsewhere.
Just like in Measure N, the Measure B developers exempted themselves from the environmental analysis that any regular project would have, vaguely promising reviews would happen later.
It is now very clear that voter initiatives should be safeguards for the environment, a final step required of massive development on farms, ranchlands, and natural habitat, and not a loophole used by developers. We again thank San Benito voters, and San Jose voters before them, for realizing this.