It is time for us voters in the City of Watsonville to decide on Measure Q and Measure S. I read several articles related to the measures including “City Council places competing initiative against Measure U renewal” by Tony Nuñez in the Pajaronian on July 8, and “Measure Q and S are flawed” by Kathleen Kilpatrick in the Pajaronian on Sept. 30. After much thought about these two measures, my opinion is that Measure Q is better than Measure S.
Why? I shared the concerns and issues, especially the necessity of transformation of the community in the Pajaro Valley to a sustainable agriculture, which Kathleen Kilpatrick expressed in her article. However, I could not stop thinking about the consequences of her suggestion which will end up eliminating the current regulations on land use. I am one of more than 3,000 voters to have signed the petition for Measure U (now Measure Q) on the ballot.
There is one common effort between Measure Q and Measure S. Both measures intend to extend the current Urban Limit Line for another 18 years. The advocates for both measures have acknowledged our strong concerns for providing affordable housing, especially for the younger generation. But their approaches are different.
One criticism of Measure Q, which I think is legitimate, is that the advocates for Measure Q have not addressed our concerns on pesticide issues. As a retired organic farmer, I have known the issues well. I had a chance to talk with a medical doctor in Santa Cruz who specializes in Parkinson’s disease. He told me that there is scientific research data which proves the relation between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease and that most of his patients were from Watsonville.
There is one very important issue which has been missing in the discussions. We are on the unceded lands of the Hueneren Tribe who lived in the Pajaro Valley for thousands of years until they were forcefully taken to San Juan Bautista Mission and Santa Cruz Mission and were enslaved there. There is a marker in front of Lakeview Middle School. The marker was placed after PVUSD desecrated one of the grave sites of indigenous people when they built the school in the early 1990s.
Some of us have just recently started to learn the true history and culture of the indigenous people in the Pajaro Valley. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed the California Indian Education Act on Sept. 23. PVUSD could have avoided desecration if we had learned the true history of the indigenous people in the Pajaro Valley. I think that it is our responsibility to protect the indigenous sites when we engage in visioning the future of the Pajaro Valley. It will be difficult for the general public to educate themselves on this matter in a short time. We will have enough time to educate ourselves on this matter in Measure Q without touching existing farm lands which might include indigenous people’s important sites.
My main concern regarding Measure S is that it will allow the general public to have input in deciding where to build houses when necessary, but the final decision-making powers will be given not to voters but to the seven council members.
I appreciate that the current City Council has taken actions to address the pesticide issues. However, I prefer Measure Q to Measure S based on the reasons stated above.
Takashi Mizuno is a resident of Watsonville. His opinions are his own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.