Councilman’s claims of racism were wrong
I’m a member of the board of directors of the Watsonville Pilots Association and the vice-chairperson of the Watsonville Airport Advisory Committee. However, I write this letter solely in my individual capacity as a long-time resident of the County of Santa Cruz concerned about a reference to racism made during the Watsonville City Council meeting on Sept. 28.
During a discussion of the Watsonville General Plan update a member of the council brought up racism along with an absence of democracy when addressing what he viewed as impediments to the city’s ability to provide housing for its citizenry. The comment was stunning and deeply troubling because it can imply discriminatory intent on the part of those of us interested in protecting the future of the Watsonville Municipal Airport. Also, unjustifiable use of such inflammatory language echoes the false, misleading and often ignorant claims of politicians intent on redirecting blame for their own failures.
But as I reviewed those comments, I recognized genuine frustration on the council member’s part about difficulties faced by so many well-meaning elected officials forced to balance the many interests that are woven into land-use decisions facing local governments. His choice of words was wrong, but the council member’s concerns are genuine. The need to develop more affordable housing is manifest in most communities in California, Watsonville included. But so is the need to protect the airport the city agreed to accept from the federal government after World War II. Housing, economic development, jobs, transportation and, yes, recreation are all fundamental attributes of a healthy community. No one of these takes precedence over the others, hence the need to balance.
I don’t know why in the past the city acted contrary to state law resulting in lawsuits and court orders invalidating those actions, nor do I understand why the city now ignores those court decisions and the law upon which they’re based. But I do know the city can follow the law and protect the airport from unnecessary conflicting land uses while also taking advantage of every opportunity to increase housing density within its urban boundaries. These are not incompatible goals.
Democracy isn’t easy and can’t be achieved by picking favorites. It’s a difficult and often frustrating balancing act that our elected officials have chosen to perform. But pitting members of the community against one another and tossing false allegations of ill intent won’t make the job any easier.
Orry Korb, Santa Cruz
City Council is pro-sprawl
The article in Friday’s Pajaronian reporting the City Council’s statements about the proposed initiative to extend for 18 years the measure U Urban Limit Line reveals the pro-sprawl sentiment of this council. This past spring, 95% of city residents responding to a City-based survey said the city should create additional jobs and housing near already existing infrastructure to help preserve natural and agricultural land. Yet these council members are quoted saying it is outside interests telling us what to do.
How would you like to see a sprawling subdivision of houses on Riverside Drive as you drove out of town? Who do you think would be living in those houses that would displace our prime farmland? People from Santa Cruz, Salinas, San Jose and Gilroy would be the ones to afford to buy.
We need to concentrate on existing available sites within city limits before thinking about annexing farmland.
Melissa McKinney, Watsonville
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