Waste of precious open space
The VST development project was first conceived of in the 1990s, when the trust property was pledged to a burgeoning UC Merced. The university, which opened in 2005, was built on the trust land… In total, more 2,400 jobs and $8.9 million in city revenue is projected to come from the project, according to Merced Planning Manager Kim Espinosa. Merced City Council’s action on Monday gave support to the potential annexation of the VST development project. representing a critical step in a vision that is still decades in the making. – Merced Sun-Star, Nov 17, 2021
“We’re not going to accept a plan to do a plan,” said Paul Gosselin, deputy director for the California Department of Water Resources, Sustainable Groundwater Management Office. “We’re looking for very concrete, measurable changes to address these deficiencies.” – Lois Henry, Bakersfield Californian, Nov. 22, 2021
Those of us not loing ago totally brainwashed by University of California propaganda often wondered why the UC Merced project could never quite define its academic purpose. Fortunately, we were enlightened by a pair of state Capitol savants, Dan Walters, of the now defunct McClatchy Co. newspaper chain, and state Sen. John Burton, president pro tem of the state Senate. Walters concluded after thorough reporting over several years that the UC Merced project was “nothing but a land deal.” Sen. Burton’s last word on the project was that it was “the biggest boondoggle” he’d ever seen (and he witnessed the development of Candlestick Park in his politically connected youth).
The contemplated development is not contiguous with the present city limits of Merced; it would be an island. As such, according to the city charter, it would not be eligible to receive city services like sewer and water, police and fire.. But that never bothered the council, who voted years ago to provide services to UC Merced, which has never expressed a desire to be annexed into the City of Merced. This is basically a play for public sewer and water services to cash in on the “promise” the boondoggle land deal always contemplated.
We’re curious where the city or whatever entity ends up holding the bag is planning to get water for the project. The state is requiring a viable plan for sustainable groundwater pumping and the stakeholders in eastern Merced County have already proved themselves politically, economically, intellectually and morally unable to come up with such a plan. Meanwhile, a new Stanford University study shows that San Joaquin Valley aquifers do not recover from droughts because during droughts they are extremely over-drafted.
But none of this really matters to the city council, the county Board of Supervisors or any other elected or appointed body of people charged with making any decisions regarding the University of California. Once the fatal initials, “UC,” are uttered in public or in the back room, the minds of most decision makers grow dim, their ears go deaf and they lose the ability to read anything – not that the brawling deputy sheriff, Vice-Mayor Kevin Blake, ever read anything anyway. And so the UC will get what it always wanted, a subsidized profit center and separate city unto itself with a subservient city nearby to provide services.
What a waste of precious open space. -- blj
Merced project supported by City Council would add thousands of housing units to city
BY ABBIE LAUTEN-SCRIVNER
Marking a move decades in the making, Merced City Council on Monday unanimously voted to support the preliminary annexation application for the Virginia Smith Trust (VST) development project moving forward, which would eventually integrate 654 acres of mixed-use property into the city.
Located south of the UC Merced campus at the northeast corner of Cardella and Lake roads, the project would add an estimated 3,857 total dwelling units to housing-scarce Merced — and significantly boost trust scholarship funds available for Merced County students.
“I for one am very supportive of the project,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Blake, who filled in for the absent Mayor Matt Serratto on Monday. “It just look like a wonderful project.”
The trust was established in 1975 via the Last Will of Virginia Smith, which specified that students in need should receive a scholarship per year. The Merced County Board of Education, serving as trustee, made VST a permanent scholarship fund in 1984. Around 35 to 50 local students are currently granted a scholarship each year The VST development project was first conceived of in the 1990s, when the trust property was pledged to a burgeoning UC Merced. The university, which opened in 2005, was built on the trust land.
“We often refer to this as being the other half of the Merced promise. When the UC was encouraged to come to Merced, there were two promises made,” project planner Stephen Peck said of the potential annexation on Monday. “We think we’re ready to go, we did our original planning 20 years ago.”
Along with VST donating thousands of acres to UC Merced, the project proposed developing a world-class neighborhood next to the campus that would become a community for UC Merced students and staff, Peck said. As part of that promise, any proceeds from the development of the VST project would go into an endowment and expand the scholarship program “exponentially,” he said
Long-term community benefits of developing the VST property are estimated to establish a more than $100 million endowment that will offer $8 to $10 million annually to provide scholarships for Merced County students. Representing growth on the scale of 50 times the current level, the increased funds would allow students graduating high school to apply for VST scholarships. Currently, only college students are eligible.
“The children of Merced will benefit long into the future, long after we’re gone and forgotten,” said Merced County Office of Education Superintendent and VST Executive Director Steve Tietjen.
The development project timeline spans in two phases over the course of 2025 through 2042. A combination of student housing, apartments, town homes and single-family units make up the over 3,800 imagined units. More than 2,100 of those total units are planned as multi-family homes intended to suit students and other lower-income residents.
“This is a project that was designed based on the needs of the community,” Peck said, noting Merced’s need for this type of housing. “Students need multi-family housing. Staff and instructors at the university need multi-family housing.”
Affordable housing projects are planned to account for a portion of developments, too. Although no extremely low income units are part of the project’s conception, 75 units are planned for very low income levels, 1,367 for low income residents and 1,682 for moderate income earners. The community will also include 862,000 square feet of retail, office and hospitality space, as well as various neighborhoods, parks, a clubhouse and town center.
In total, more 2,400 jobs and $8.9 million in city revenue is projected to come from the project, according to Merced Planning Manager Kim Espinosa. Merced City Council’s action on Monday gave support to the potential annexation of the VST development project, representing a critical step in a vision that is still decades in the making.
“(It’s) one of the greatest projects that is probably going to hit Merced in a long, long time,” said City Councilmember Fernando Echevarria prior to the unanimous vote of support.
Calif.'s Central Valley groundwater may not recover from droughts
Nov. 22, 2021
Calif.'s Central Valley groundwater may not recover from droughts | WaterWorld
New research from the American Geophysical Union finds that groundwater storage hasn't fully recovered after the state’s last two droughts, with less than a third of groundwater recovered from the drought that spanned 2012 to 2016 …
LOIS HENRY: Four valley groundwater plans fail to meet state standards – for now
Four groundwater plans in the Central Valley — including those for Westlands Water District, Chowchilla Water District and the Merced and Eastern San Joaquin subbasins — don’t show how they will protect water quality, keep drinking water wells from going dry or stop already sinking land from sinking further, according to the Department of Water Resources.
In short, those plans earned “D’s” in DWR’s first round of assessments of Central Valley groundwater plans. DWR expects to issue assessments on the remaining groundwater plans, about 36 that cover the valley from Madera to Kern counties, within the first two weeks of December…