This community opinion was contributed by Bob Tiffany, candidate for San Benito County Supervisor District 4 and president of the San Benito County Business Council. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of misinformation and outright lies spread about Measure N. These lies are nothing new from Measure N’s opponents, who have a long track record of spreading fear and inaccurate information to keep San Benito County from making meaningful progress.
I want to take a moment to set the record straight and ensure that San Benito County residents know the facts before voting on Measure N.
Fact #1: Measure N does not allow any new housing. Period.
The anti-jobs, anti-progress faction is trying to scare you by saying that Strada Verde is just another housing development. That is patently false. I encourage you to read the County Counsel’s impartial “title and summary” for yourself (link below). It clearly states, “No residential development is included in the plan,” and that a plan amendment would require another vote of the people. You can also refer to the project’s Specific Plan, which is incorporated within the initiative itself (link below). Ironically, the only way that housing could be built on that land is if Measure N fails. Measure N guarantees—by law—that the land must be used for jobs, not housing.
Link to “title and summary”: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:92c1483d-6abe-4808-a382-6bd71e750a13
Link to initiative: http://sbcvote.us/pdf/forms/registrar/2020NovElection/Measure_N.pdf
Fact #2: Independent estimates confirm that Measure N will produce more than $24 million in annual tax revenue for schools, fire protection, roads and other county services.
The Measure N campaign did not grab this number out of thin air: multiple independent financial experts—including the County’s own Auditor—have confirmed them. You can read the County Auditor’s report at http://sbcvote.us/measure-n-2020-san-benito-county/ or in the Voter Information Guide that you received with your ballot.
Fact #3: Local labor unions and local business groups endorse Measure N because they know that it will create more than 20,000 construction and permanent jobs in San Benito County.
The Building Trades and Strada Verde are in the process of finalizing a Project Labor Agreement to ensure that San Benito County residents are first in line for the thousands of available jobs. They will range from construction, engineering, hospitality, skilled trades and support services, and will be available to applicants from all different levels of education. Again, these numbers were developed by third-party, independent experts. They are backed by a comprehensive Economic Impact Study, prepared by a leading national public finance firm using tried, tested and approved methodology.
Fact #4: Strada Verde will undergo a significant environmental impact study and comprehensive public review process before a single shovel can go into the ground.
Many of the same opponents of Measure N were working on an initiative that would require a public vote on projects of this size and nature. Now, they are saying that this very process they fought for is a political trick to avoid the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other environmental reviews. That’s another lie. Strada Verde will go through a comprehensive environmental impact study and extensive public review process before construction begins. The project will require several, future discretionary approvals from the County and other agencies, and CEQA compliance is required—as a matter of state law—before any of these approvals can be granted. That means the County will, at the project sponsor’s expense, be required to ensure full CEQA review and compliance before the project can move forward. The project will not proceed until all environmental and safety concerns are fully mitigated.
The anti-jobs, anti-progress faction has hurt our County for too long. If they get their way, our County will miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reduce unemployment and boost our economy. When voting this fall, let the facts speak for themselves.