On the city will decide the fate of the wetlands. Plan to attend if you care about wetland preservation. This is just the first garden in their plan. It will set a dangerous precedent. The corner of Ohlone and Loma Vista was also talked about at the Parks and Rec board as the next site for these gardens, and it, too, is feet from the sloughs.
The wetlands in Watsonville are once again in the cross hairs of the City Planning Department and the Parks and Community Services Department.
Loma Vista Street has a site that is zoned pocket park and or open space. The city has stated it has no money in the foreseeable future to put anything on the site. They are using money from an Urban Greening Grant to turn the wetlands into a farm. The city now under the cover of darkness and collusion with certain special interest groups want to put a “community garden” on this beautiful and important endangered wetland habitat.
A garden is agriculture. Agriculture needs to be watered and that involves runoff into the slough. The slough is 10 feet from the proposed site. According to the city guidelines for this garden, it will be self policing and, once built, the city will have no more interest in the property as that will go to the group they lease it to.
That's right—they will be leasing public space to a special interest group to put more ag on the wetlands. Those who have farms in the area are monitored by state and federal authorities. This garden will have no monitoring by any state/federal agency as it will be leased to 30 private individuals who will sign a pledge to use organic gardening methods. They will be fencing up the wetlands to farm on.
The city can put this garden on any public property it owns. It can put it on any site that has been zoned for parks or any vacant lots the city owns.
Why is the city of Watsonville putting an irrigated farm on public lands?
We who live across the street from the site have been asking this and other questions of the city and get no answers. The one and only public meeting was held on Jan. 26. The city gave this entire town eight days to know about this meeting and placed no signs on the public property about the proposed change from open space to farm. We were barely informed and when requested time to look over the proposal they moved the final vote in front of the Parks and Rec up from April 1 to March 1, thus giving us even less time to find a way to get any information.
The only reason the city has told us that they need to put the park on the wetlands site is that low-income families need a way to have fresh food and this is a service to them. The mayor has told us that he feels that this garden will help team building and build neighborhood pride. None of them can give any reason why it has to go on this endangered habitat. We all love gardens and lets put them where they do the most good and can help create urban revitalization. The wetlands are not the right site for new agriculture.
I ask you to visit the site in question and see the area and see if it needs any neighborhood pride. These gardens are always used to help a community that is struggling. But that is site specific. The garden needs to go into an area that needs help with community building. It needs to be in an area that has great walkabilty. Everyone will have to drive to Loma Vista Street. Look at the homes in the immediate area. They all have front and back yards. Why is there no concern for those who have no yards?
Location is key.
Why is the city not using the garden to green up blighted neighborhoods? Why are they not giving those most in need convenient and easy walking access to a garden? Why is the city using a grant for urban greening to put an ag facility on the already green wetlands?