Who needs a UC new town?

Home prices in county slide further in December...J.N. Sbranti...Modesto Bee

Even as real estate prices in Valley cities to the north appear to be rebounding...Sales prices continued dropping in Merced County, hitting $326,000 in December. That was $6,500 lower than November and $54,750 lower than December 2005. Merced homes haven't been that cheap since the spring of 2005. John Melo, chief executive officer of Century 21 M&M and Associates...the real estate market is tough in Merced County. "Merced prices just went way too high. The county just doesn't have the (employment) base to support such housing,"... In recent years, Melo said Merced developers built too many homes and investors bought too many properties on speculation that the new University of California campus would create a great demand. It hasn't. "Now, many of those investors are cutting their losses and trying to sell," Melo said. That's driving down prices ...

Meanwhile, UC Merced continues to move forward on its University Community Plan, a 2,100-acre new town planned immediately south of the campus. Public funds have been involved with its planning since inception. Public funds are paying UC attorneys to defend the UCP in court. UC is a partner in the planned commercial strip mall. It is a perfect “public/private, win-win partnership for growth.” UC faculty and staff will be given preference for the new town housing, for which UC-subsidized mortgages are provided. If all the housing cannot be sold to UC employees, others will be able to buy there.

A glut of new homes of descending value, speculators unable to get more than a third their mortgage payments on rent for homes in Merced they only bought to flip, never to live in, and no rational jobs/housing balance, are parts of a large problem caused by irresponsible city and county planning and corrupt land-use decisions by the city council and the board of supervisors.

With all the partial subdivisions standing around town, Merced had enough infill (in many cases with infrastructure installed) to provide housing for UC Merced faculty, staff and students without another corrupt, stupid public/private, win-win partnership for growth.

The Merced public must realize at some point that, from the UC through the Riverside Motorsports Park (RMP) and every subdivision in between, its elected officials have been the willing and eager enablers of the economic, air quality and traffic mess we call home. Chief among them, from the beginning, has been Dennis Cardoza, whose congressional office is on the third floor of the county administration building, next to the board of supervisors, a floor above the planning department.

The federal Bureau of Prisons was going to sue on the RMP project. Its drag strip backs up to the prison walls. The bureau sent letters to the county. A bureau representative told citizens the bureau would sue. The representative said later Cardoza was “negotiating” with the bureau. The negotiations continued through the filing deadline for a suit under California Environmental Quality Act.

Allied with RMP, the chambers of commerce and banks, how hard is Cardoza now working to get the state Farm Bureau to drop its suit against the racetrack? He's on the House agriculture committee. And the great corruptor of the Williamson Act ("it's mitigation for UC Merced," he said) was once chairman of the state Assembly agriculture committee. Oooo, oooo, power, power! We must tremble.

Please, Sister Nancy, take that boy to the river and dunk him again. Wash that Pomboza hangover out of his mind. Remind him that stock cars are not a California specialty agricultural commodity.

Cardoza is the top corrupt official in Merced. But it runs downhill. At the RMP public hearing, it reached down and called upon poor Councilman Carl Pollard, who stumbled over some words he was told to say but could barely pronounce.

How is RMP going to improve the jobs/housing balance in Merced, Carl? Reason it out for us, please. Would that be the "diversity" of labor in Merced between the work there is, the real estate crash, and the fantasy UC high-tech economy that isn't? Did you ever vote against any subdivision in north Merced? And how did that help your constituents in South Merced?