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Ventura County Perspective

Land-Use Policy

April 26, 1998

Re "SOAR May Look Good But It's No Magic Wand," April 19.

Rooted in private property rights we all share, Rick McGrath's reply to the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources initiative doesn't address how open space, which the majority of residents want, might be preserved. Responsible parties must finally begin to recognize agriculture's burden upon, rather than importance to, Ventura County.

The indigenous industry survives because its below-market costs are paid by taxpayers. Low-basis ag land contributes negligible property and sales tax, uses 90% of our water at cheap rates with its productivity boosted by pesticides and its crops harvested by minimum-wage workers enslaved in 19th-century tillage rather than in globally competitive industry.

Farming in Ventura County is a land bank until owners wish to develop and seek rezoning. Until in-perpetuity ag-land buffers are established between communities, responsible voters will advocate measures like SOAR, hopefully protecting property rights.

I advocate setting a date certain until which landowners would pay back taxes at rezoned rates, using these funds to compensate ag-buffer zone landowners.

JIM SCHMITT

Camarillo

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All of the comments printed to date about the proposed SOAR initiative present the issue as a growth versus no-growth proposition. This perspective is very naive

What the SOAR controversy is really about is whether inevitable future growth will be horizontal or vertical. Ventura County residents who sign petitions to qualify SOAR for the ballot are really laying the groundwork for increased density inside their own cities and neighborhoods.

No initiatives, laws or ordinances can stop the demand for new homes. If perimeter land outside cities becomes off-limits, city councils will be under tremendous pressure from property owners, developers and their attorneys to allow higher-density housing and high-rise development inside city limits.

This will intensify traffic, road rage, air pollution, noise, overcrowding in schools, longer lines at the checkout counter, arguments between motorists competing for that last space in the parking lot, etc.

Higher density and a more urbanized environment are the inevitable consequences of building "brick walls" around existing city boundaries. Is this really the preferred scenario that residents want for Ventura County?

People should carefully read the SOAR initiative before signing and think long and hard if they and their children want to live in a SOAR city: stressful, overpopulated, aggressive and vertically-redeveloped.

CAROLINE R. MILTON

Ventura

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