Aside from the staunchest of environmentalists and the most zealous of landowners, it’s hard to find many people who are 100 percent for or against developing in the hills west of Interstate 5.
Count us among those in the middle.
We’re as protective as anyone of the view from here of those hills. Many of us grew up with that view, and we’re not exactly jumping for joy at the idea of marring that view with elaborate homes, big-box stores or anything else.
Then again, the city feels the need to develop on that side of the freeway in order to create more revenue in property taxes to help fund very necessary aspects of our lives in Patterson — things like water; things like fire protection. It’s tough to argue with that.
The county says it has no interest in claiming that land for itself, and assuming they’ve been paying attention to Diablo Grande’s problems over the past decade or so, it’s not hard to understand why.
But after the way the county handled West Park — going against the steering committee’s recommendation in favor of a questionable alternative — you can’t blame the city for not blindly taking the county at its word.
Patterson’s General Plan Advisory Committee, after several meetings’ worth of discussion, decided Tuesday that it’s going to recommend developing in the hills but refrain from specifying exactly what type of development should go there.
That was probably the right move, and judging by the discussions at recent meetings, there were certainly a variety of viewpoints that were heard.
If anything, we worry that the only voices outside of the committee that were being heard were those of the people who own the land that is to be developed.
There’s clearly nothing wrong with a developer pushing for his land to be zoned in a way that might be most profitable to him or her. They have every right to. But when other, less connected residents don’t step up and voice their concerns, the appearance becomes that the developers are running the show.
It might be that the idea of developing west of I-5 just doesn’t bother people that much. But we’d wager that most folks at least have an opinion on what they’d like to see out there — a nature preserve? a Best Buy? an upscale housing community? — and those opinions need to be part of this discussion.
We believe that with sound judgment and strong foresight, there can be reasonable development in the hills that will account for most everyone’s concerns. But if developers are the only ones being heard, the land will simply be used for whatever is most profitable to them.
If local residents have any thoughts about how development west of I-5 should be handled, the time to offer them is now.