This community opinion was contributed by resident Daniel Camacho. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
I really enjoy calling San Benito County my home. But, like many who live here, I have concerns about our future.
In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about what kinds of development we should allow. We weigh the benefits a project could offer against possible problems. They’re not easy questions, but they deserve our attention.
I paid close attention to the campaign about the Strada Verde development last fall. I heard the developers’ promises of jobs and the opponents’ concerns about traffic, chemical dangers and lost farmland. It was an informative debate.
In the end, voters were decisively against it. I can’t know why each person voted as they did, but they clearly decided ‘no.’
Now, the Strada Verde development should be behind us, with our focus forward on the many other challenges and opportunities in our community.
But, the Board of Supervisors is still considering approving Strada Verde. That would be wrong. It would let a developer go around the clear will of the voters. The Board should not consider it any further.
The developers chose to put Strada Verde on the ballot and asked voters to decide. The voters decided ‘no’ and their decision must stand.
The election also left an important lesson. Voters were clearly worried about a development so close to a toxic chemical plant. And, we learned the County’s experts recommended a 3.5 mile buffer zone for safety. It’s a lesson we should not ignore.
The Board should send a clear message that it will not compromise on safety. It should establish the buffer zone the experts recommended. It would protect the community and provide guidance for proposed future projects.
Projects like Strada Verde present difficult decisions. But, they are important and we must consider them carefully. And, whether we get the result we individually want or not, we, as citizens and as a community, need to be able to trust our democratic voting process.
In a democracy, the voters are the ultimate deciders. Their decision should not be overturned. And, what they say should help guide the Board’s planning for our community’s future.