Where do you stand on Watsonville’s possible Sakata-Kett Annexation?
This coming June 4, Watsonville voters will vote on whether or not the City of Watsonville should annex the Sakata-Kett property, which is just to the west of city limits beyond our cold storage and industrial sectors. The annexation vote will also include a patch of land west of Highway 1 that includes the historic Redman-Hirahara House. I am unequivocally opposed to this project because I think that it has been thoroughly rushed and has not provided the planning details necessary to merit voter support.
Back in the mid-90s, the Sakata-Kett property was considered as potentially being part of the City of Watsonville’s 2030 plan intended to outline the future expansion of the city. But residents specifically voiced their opposition to the annexation of Sakata-Kett being coupled alongside the other proposed annexation areas of Buena Vista, Atkinson and Manabe-Ow (what would eventually comprise Measure U). To date, little to no progress has been made on developing any of these areas. Moreover, multiple abandoned lots abound in town and have sat idle for years. The sad fact of the matter is that, over the past 30 years, our city has made a consistent and steady decline that no rushed annexation plan will reverse.
Whereas I admire the initiative some have taken to spur forward the struggling economy, I believe that proposals for annexation are currently ill advised and lacking. I agree that (theoretically) the property would suit development as it is adjacent to the city limits and enclosed within the freeway, providing access to potential customers. Yet the fact that we do not have identified business partners, or anything beyond a colorless box-store strategy, deeply troubles me.
We need to make sure that we have a plan based off of more than wishful thinking and hunches. To even consider moving forward, we need detailed outlining of investments and investment strategies. Just because you lay down a patch of concrete and call it Disneyland, does not mean that Mickey Mouse will be showing up.
Proponents will say that nobody else is coming up with ideas to spur our local economy. Yet many of us have: “Concentrate on our Downtown!” works on filling empty lots. Stop spending on structural overtime. Stop dreaming that union-smashers and small business destroyers like Wal-Mart are going to solve all our problems. The City of Watsonville needs to prove that they could develop abandoned buildings and empty lots before we ever trust them to build over prime agricultural land.
The City of Watsonville has struggled mightily to revitalize our downtown and has misdirected funds into projects such as the new Watsonville Civic Center and the defense of lawsuits for projects eerily similar to the proposed Sakata-Kett annexation. City leaders have proved highly efficient in mismanaging the problems that are already in front of them. Generally speaking, before you trust anybody, you have to look at past accomplishments and track records. The city’s recent track record of failure after failure does not cultivate much confidence, only hopeless concrete. This June 4, I will not be supporting Measure T, which by measure only stands for more of the same: Trouble.