This community opinion was contributed by Fallon Greig. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
The Southern California developer of Strada Verde has spent over $710,000 on the Yes on Measure N campaign. Their mailers and slick ads make big promises. They hope to convince San Benito County voters to approve Measure N this November. But where are the guarantees?
The developer (Newport Pacific Land Co.) promises that if voters pass Measure N, their Specific Plan for Strada Verde and all the uses allowed will not be changed for 20 years. But what guarantees are there that the uses won’t change if the project isn’t completed in 20 years? What other types of developments will be put in? Are there guarantees that a big housing project will not be put in if their listed uses don’t pan out? The developer’s initial proposal, in 2018, was to build thousands of homes at Strada Verde, but it was not well received by the Supervisors. So now the developer is short circuiting the planning and environmental review process by going directly to the voters.
The developer has promised to do more environmental review after Measure N passes. But no guarantees requiring them to do so have been written into Measure N. In fact, the 9111 Report commissioned by San Benito County Supervisors states,
“Under the proposed Specific Plan, many uses would be allowed by right and could be developed without additional discretionary approvals and thereby avoid environmental review. While future discretionary approvals may trigger CEQA review, approval of the Initiative would likely limit the scope of any potential future environmental review and constrain the County’s ability to impose any mitigation that would be inconsistent with uses approved by the Initiative.”
The developer has promised to minimize traffic on Hwy. 25 by making the main entrance to Strada Verde at Hwy. 101 and Betabel/Y Rd. But there’s no guarantee in Measure N of this either. In fact, the Supervisors’ 9111 Report clearly states,
“Because the project applicant(s) may not own sufficient land needed to connect the project site to US 101 and due to potential technical, geological, and environmental considerations, the proposed primary entry to the Specific Plan area may not be feasible.”
And, of course, there’s the developer’s big promise of thousands of jobs. But nothing in Measure N guarantees that even a small percentage of those jobs go to San Benito County residents!
I think the Strada Verde developer is trying to pull a fast one and hoodwink San Benito voters with a lot of empty promises but no guarantees. Don’t be fooled.