The Watsonville City Council will talk about the viability of annexing an 80-acre parcel of land south of West Beach Street and east of Highway 1, an effort that one city leader believes could draw large companies to the city.
City Council Member Daniel Dodge thinks adding the acreage to the city as retail commercial space could attract businesses such as Costco to the area, creating jobs and funnelling sales tax revenue into Watsonville. He wrote about his vision in an editorial published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jan. 29.
City staff pulled together the information to go over Dodge's proposal, but isn't recommending any action.
The original Riverside Drive annexation, first brought up about 15 years ago, included four parcels that comprised 216 acres. At the time, it was estimated that developing those lands could create 3,500 jobs.
Of those properties, only has been added to the city limits but has not been developed. The three other sites have not been annexed.
Dodge believes adding the 80 acres known as the Sakata-Kett parcels will be a boon for the city, providing jobs and tax revenue that would support public safety and youth programs. He wrote:
With this land in the city limits, we would be in an excellent position to attract Costco and other businesses to Watsonville. Costco has expressed interest for a long time in bringing a store to Watsonville .... We could stop sending all of our tax dollars to other cities such as Santa Cruz, Gilroy and Salinas.
Right now, the land is devoted to agriculture and at least one person has objected to the change of use.
"Building on farmland at this point in history is extremely short-sighted," Sam Earnshaw wrote to Watsonville Mayor Eduardo Montesino. "You may not know that the Sakata-Kett sigte is one of the most productive pieces of farmland on earth because of its mild climate and its deep and fertile soils .... Sprawling onto farmland is not a popular land use practice."
Although the city staff report on the issue recommends taking no action on the issue but pointed out that city council members can use the initiative process to bring matters to a public vote.
The city council will debate this annexation issue at Tuesday evening's meeting. The council also will be asked to allocate housing funding to an eviction-prevention program and approve the rental agreement for Props, the new restaurant planned for the The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers, fourth floor of the Civic Plaza, 275 Main St.
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