City at the crossroads
Watsonville is at a crossroads. The Watsonville Planning Commission needs to get its priorities straight. Instead of promoting cannabis dispensaries and the shortsighted thinking of narrowing Main St. down to two lanes, it should be focusing on much more serious issues that affect the quality of life in town such as the decline in school attendance and a lack of retail opportunities. It is no wonder that a majority of Pajaro Valley residents give the commission and council a vote of no confidence in a recent online poll conducted by the Pajaronian.
For so long, the Watsonville old guard has looked at out-of-town retail entities with a jaundiced eye in the interest of “shopping local.” Currently, choices are limited and the powers that be have not listened to what a majority of its residents want such as Walmart, Olive Garden and Trader Joe’s. This has had an adverse effect as shoppers go out of town to dine and shop, affecting the economy.
Building affordable housing is great, however, that must be augmented with employment opportunities, improving the infrastructure and attracting an educated populace (i.e. techies), which will mix the demographics thus increasing the buying power. In previous years, the planning commission and city council have approved poorly built, substandard housing which has created ghettos and blight in Watsonville today. Change has to come about and being stuck in the past will no longer cut it.
As a former 30-plus-year resident of Watsonville and one who still conducts business there, I am concerned about its future.
Gary Plomp, Gilroy
Inspiration through photos
I really enjoy the interesting photos in the Photo Gallery section of the paper. This last edition had a spectacular sunset photo of people walking along the Main Beach in Santa Cruz. Yeah, an inspiring photo can truly transport a person’s thoughts and emotions to a charming scene of rapturous beauty.
Mike Bobeda, Watsonville
Protect our young people
On Jan. 14, the City of Watsonville Planning Commission failed to remove zoning areas for cannabis retail in direct walking paths of Pajaro Valley High School and Cesar Chavez Middle School students. If the City Council was to approve cannabis permits for retail stores in these areas, children would be exposed to cannabis on a daily basis. Some products have specific youth appeal.
Watsonville Municipal Code declares that the city, “desires to enact reasonable regulations pertaining to cannabis facilities and cultivation to ensure Watsonville residents are afforded safe access to cannabis while at the same time mitigating negative impacts such as the exposure of children to cannabis and drug sales to minors.”
As the school board trustee overseeing PVHS and CCMS, I believe the city would be committing a great disservice by approving any cannabis business in the walking path of students. Sections of Green Valley Road and Auto Center Drive should remain unavailable for licensing of retail cannabis. We need to provide protection for our youth, especially in shopping centers designed for all ages. Our prevention partners recommend that retail shops be located a minimum of 1,000 feet away from schools to limit exposure.
We know that Watsonville is a small community. According to PVPSA statistics, a third of our population is underage. Under the current zoning plan, that is one access point for every 2,000 people, there is already traffic congestion in these areas impacting student and pedestrian safety. The city council just banned the sale of flavored tobacco products from pharmacies in October 2019.
Hopefully, they will continue to protect our youth and not allow cannabis retail in direct walking paths of students when making their final decision.
Jennifer Schacher, PVUSD Trustee Area 5
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