Modesto’s core is agriculture. The Chamber is well aware of that fact and has been and will continue to be a champion for our farmers and our agricultural industry. We understand that we need to protect farmland as it feeds our agricultural industry that is the base of most of the jobs that exist in our community.
Yet with that base Modesto still has high unemployment and even higher underemployment. Modesto is considered one of the most impoverished communities in the nation. Our community has grown in population, but not in jobs. For nearly the last 40 years, Modesto’s growth has been solely to provide cheaper housing than the Bay Area alternative. The result has been congested highways caused by a huge increase in commuters, poorer air quality, and a jobs/housing imbalance that in 2008 led to a collapse in property values and a collapse in the construction industry that led to even higher unemployment and poverty. While the Bay Area is now thriving, Modesto has not recovered from this collapse.
The Chamber wants to reverse this imbalance for Modesto. We favored the initial Stamp Out Sprawl initiative which limited housing growth but would allow Modesto to bring in more space for business and industrial development. Now that initiative includes restrictions on expansion of Modesto’s boundaries for business and industrial development. We cannot and do not support such an initiative. We see it as making it much more difficult for Modesto to reduce poverty and improve its jobs/housing imbalance. We need to generate well-paying jobs in this community – jobs that pay living wages – not take away Modesto’s hope for the future.
Over the next couple of months, the Chamber will provide a series of articles that will help the Modesto community to understand the impact that Stamp out Sprawl will have on Modesto. Please take the time to read these articles and understand the issues and impacts that the Stamp out Sprawl initiative will have on the Modesto community.