Watsonville - Pros and Cons of Measure U | by Charles McClain
The Sierra Club is taking a neutral stance on Measure U, the Watsonville Urban
Limit Line and Development Timing Initiative. The Growth Management Committee
of the Santa Cruz Group has closely examined arguments in favor of and against
Watsonville is a rapidly growing city. According to the Association of Monterey
Bay Area Governments, the citys population is expected to increase by 12,000
to 55,875 in the next 17 years. Measure U is an attempt to accommodate this growth
while protecting and promoting important agricultural, open space, and other
The initiative attempts to seek a compromise between multiple stakeholders
and to both direct and limit future growth.
Measure U protects prime agricultural land on the outskirts of the city
for 20 to 25 years and protects land west of Highway 1 for 25 years.
It encourages infill within annexation areas by stipulating development
in phases, with areas closer to the city being developed first.
It helps educate the public and policy-makers about smart growth and long-term
Measure U extends the current urban limit line beyond the current government-approved
sphere of influence, and does nothing to ensure infill and redevelopment of the
inner-city prior to allowing potentially sprawl-inducing annexations.
The proposed annexation in the Buena Vista area has significant environmental
and topographic constraints, which will likely preclude it from supporting the
projected housing numbers.
Proposed housing will exacerbate the burden on our already heavily over-
drafted water supplies, and creation of new housing may outpace the creation of
local jobs, with concomitant negative effects on the community.
The proposed urban limit line extends onto habitat of the federally-listed
endangered Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander and threatens some of the few remaining
patches of Hookers Manzanita, endemic to the Monterey Bay area found near
The Growth Management Committee believes it is possible to accommodate growth
in a sustainable way by encouraging infill development within existing urban centers,
building near transportation lines, paying workers a living wage, and maintaining
an urban growth boundary. At the same time it is important to consider environmental
constraints and to ensure that growth does not exceed a level sustainable by available
To learn more about Measure U, contact Action Pajaro Valleys Committee for
Orderly Growth & Agricultural Protection, 722-8206 and Friends of Buena Vista
[ top of page ]