Letter to the editor: Don’t rob our local economy — vote yes on Q for farmers, businesses and employees

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To the editor:

A recently released downtown-specific plan located the potential of nearly 4,000 new housing units in Watsonville’s city core. This requires clever, creative and costly redevelopment of underutilized building sites. It’s much easier and cheaper to apply the growth model that turned the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” into the 180 square miles that we now know as San Jose.

If those 3,900-plus homes were built on Pajaro Valley farmland at the average California density of seven per acre, this would reduce gross farm receipts by roughly $41 million per year. With that income, the farmer buys seeds, fertilizer, packaging, etc. from local businesses and those businesses pay their employees and those employees buy groceries, auto parts and pay rent in Watsonville.

Thus, removing 560 acres from production to build overpriced suburban homes robs our local economy tens of millions of dollars not just once, but each and every year.

I was in Portland, Oregon, last week and happened upon a 10,000-square-foot urban lot with nine new, three-story condos priced below $1 million each! A two-bedroom, 2.5-bath, 1,650-square-foot, one-car garage house was priced at $650,000.

This kind of creative development can both preserve productive farmland and provide ownership opportunities for first time home buyers. As outlined in the downtown plan, it’s the kind of growth the city council should be encouraging within and throughout the current urban growth limit.

Vote yes on Measure Q.

Denesse Willey