Bill Hocker | Apr 6, 2017
ACEagle 4/5/17: City officials criticize Watson Ranch talks with Caltrans
The hardest work developers do is probably not the building of projects, but the cajoling, coercing or bamboozling of taxpayers and governments into paying for the infrastructure necessary to make their projects, and profits, possible. It is no coincidence that our current developer-president is proposing a massive public expenditure in infrastructure in opposition to his own party's conservative orthodoxy. Developers everywhere are no doubt slavering at the thought.
The real question is who, beyond the developers and their campaign contribution recipients, benefit from the projects. The taxes and fees that developers and government officials claim will be generated by the projects will never offset that costs of the impacts that must be addressed at public expense. Taxpayers and residents will end up paying more to accommodate the increased costs for road, sanitation and water systems, for emergency services, and school expansions. In the process the environment becomes more dense, urbanized and congested, and the rural small-town character of the county, often extolled by officials in comparison to the suburban sprawl of the rest of the Bay Area, will continue to disappear.
There are places willing and committed to turn their open space into urban agglomerations, providing jobs and housing for an ever expanding population and they should be encouraged to do so. But Napa County has a viable agricultural resource and industry that requires a different vision of its future, and it should be acting, even in its municipalities, to protect that vision from the constant promotion of urbanization by developers.