As we come out of the recession, the next year or two will be crucial. Will we return to pre-recession land use policies that drained public revenues, spread public services too thin, and fueled a real estate bubble that burst into disaster? Or, will we develop policies that ensure smart growth while protecting important resources? A mayors meeting on May 13th is a big turning point.
Hughson Mayor Matt Beekman is smart about growth. His city adopted a model farmland protection policy. He served as an alternate and now as a member of Stanislaus LAFCo, an agency charged with preserving agricultural resources and discouraging sprawl. He serves on the Board of Directors for CALAFCO that supports local LAFCos throughout California. He is exactly the kind of thoughtful, conscientious public official we need.
He should be praised for his leadership, and yet in a bizarrely aggressive maneuver six local mayors are moving to replace Beekman on Stanislaus LAFCo. The supposed reason: Beekman supported an amendment that clarifies one option for cities in LAFCo's existing farmland preservation policy.
For years, cities have asked for a "level playing field" when it comes to farmland protection so that cities with lax development standards don't grab unfair advantage. Developers have asked for more "certainty" in the process. The amendment helps to achieve both outcomes.
The mayors seem to be saying, "Majority rules! If six out of nine mayors want to cave in to the building industry, that's the American way." But it's fuzzy math. They're ignoring the majority of the 525,000 people in Stanislaus County who want smart planning.
The mayors will meet at 6 p.m. May 13t at Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway Ave.
— Bradley Barker