Watsonville Putting Farming on the Wetlands?

On April 24 at 6:30 p.m. 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 precedent.

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?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

andrea wilson April 19, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I agree with this blog. We have to preserve our wetlands. And also I see the point about having to drive to Loma Vista. If its to help low income families it should be easy for them to access. Lots of people walking in Watsonville lately. The City isn't making much sense on the matter. They just want to do it. Thats not very fair to the people they are supposably trying to help or the environment.
Michael Morelli April 24, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I also agree with this blog, and I believe this land should be used for unity within our community. However, this community garden will not help build unity development. It will actually promote resentment toward those outside of our neighborhood that park in front of our home. This is because our families and friends will have to park much farther away due to the increased traffic that will be created by those that do not live in our neighborhood. Keep in mind that we enjoy a wonderful neighborhood. Our neighbors are great and we all respect the parking needs of each other, along with the parking restrictions we already have with the "pilot parking bays" in front of our homes. Those who do not live here frequently park in such a way that we are blocked in and can not leave until those automobiles leave: It is like someone parking in front of your driveway so you can not get out. Also, keep in mind that we were told by a Standard Pacific rep. (when we were buying our homes and were concerned with the potential parking problem) that the parking on the street (Loma Vista on the proposed garden side) will not be allowed because of the protected wetlands, and will remain restricted to parking even if the project goes through. In closing, not only will this project be a problem due to runoff into the wetlands from the garden, but it will also exasperate the parking problem that currently exists to those who live near this proposed area. Michael Morelli
Cathy P. April 25, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Thank you for speaking at the city council meeting last night Michael. Looks like the decision had already been made -AGAIN- before the meeting and residents' concerns were not considered -AGAIN.
wetlandswatchdog April 25, 2012 at 04:24 PM
This blog was created in reaction to Watsonville Wetlands Watch. The WWW spoke in favor at the council meeting to putting the farm on The Wetlands. How Ironic, that they fought so no cars could park on the slough side and now they fight so un know chemicals can be dumped in the sloughs. There is absolutely no way to monitor what goes on in the garden as it will be all self policed. But we still need to stick together and try to protect the slough. So the real Wetlands Watch continues.


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