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“Some things are destined to be — it just takes us a couple of tries to get there.” ― J.R. Ward, Lover Mine

As politicians constantly talk about economic potential, business opportunities and development in San Benito County the facts on the ground continue to move the county, inexorably, towards its destiny – a bedroom community for Silicon Valley and the nearby coastal counties. 

A good case can be made that we would be much better off embracing the idea than just fighting it; doing so does not mean we have to give up on other aspirations, but it does mean that we have to develop strategies that deal with what will, most likely, be the future. The classification of our county and its communities is less important than the quality of life the community offers its residents and workers.

Our business, development and sustainment strategy should have three legs prioritized as follows:

First, hold on to what you have; it’s much easier to prevent the loss of a business or community asset than to find a new one to replace it after it’s gone. Government is often overly focused on offering significant incentives for new things or grand ideas only to wake up and find that some of the best old things are gone or have left and cannot be replaced.

Second, encourage maintenance, improvement, expansion and growth of what you have. It’s often much faster and more economical to maintain, improve or expand a good thing that already exists than to start something new. Improving the current infrastructure and services improves the lives of the residents.

Finally, work with new business and development to make sure that it is in the right place at the right time in accordance with our basic plans. In the long run they will be happier and more successful and the community will be happier and will be able to better handle the impacts. 

These three legs require a highly skilled, efficient and full-time planning function, something we do not always have at the county or in the cities, but we have no choice – the price of bad decisions is far too great to compromise in that area.

Special emphasis must go to parts of the urban area that are run down and get left farther behind as new developments ring the outskirts. Our economic strategy has to address “the other side of the tracks” and the blight that still exists even on some major thoroughfares and in rural areas.