Solano County has survived — some would say thrived — thanks in large part to a single philosophy: What is rural should stay rural, what is urban should stay urban.
It is a principle that puts the onus of paying for growth and providing services on cities. And it allows the county to continue to maintain its focus on the county law enforcement, social services, jails and health care.
It also ensures that major growth on county land will be agribusiness. And in Solano County, farming remains to this day a key component of our identity and economic vitality.
For 24 years, this growth concept has steered Solano County toward success. At a time when other county budgets around the state are floundering, Solano County is better able to withstand the difficult fluctuations.
This guiding principal has made our cities stronger, and encouraged better planning and in-fill development. It has helped to keep taxes down, because city services are not extended so deeply into the rural areas.
But in two years time, Solano County’s Orderly Growth Initiative will expire.
Voters should address the issue now, by approving Measure T on Tuesday.
Measure T will renew the county’s commitment toward orderly growth. It will update density standards for development of agriculture and open space, thus preventing poorly planned growth in rural areas.
Measure T is living proof of what can happen when different sides come together for the common good. It is compromise plan, one that has support from a broad group of politicians, as well as a wide range of interest groups including the Solano County Farm Bureau, Suisun Valley Fruit Growers Association, Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association, the Greenbelt Alliance, the Sierra Club and area Chambers of Commerce.
It promises to provide opportunities for farm-based businesses, such as wineries, to develop in Solano County and to encourage the addition of industrial and agricultural processing facilities.
The measure is intended to “sustain and enhance Solano County’s natural environment, including its diverse species, watersheds, natural communities and wildlife corridors.”
Along those lines, it seeks to promote better health for Solano County residents by limiting water and air pollution, traffic congestion and noise.
It will prevent piecemeal amendments to the general plan that would allow development on agriculture or open space lands.
Some voters may have confused Measure T with the county’s general plan.
While they both address the county’s growth intentions, they are different.
The county’s general plan, a voluminous document, was approved by supervisors in August. It is a living document that can be amended four times a year by the Board of Supervisors to handle changing situations.
Measure T, on the other hand, would reflect the voice of the people and could only be changed by a vote of the people. That’s why the measure is unopposed on the ballot.
The county’s general plan is, in fact, contingent on the approval of Measure T. If voters say yes, Solano County residents can rest assured that there is a comprehensive plan for the future — at least the next 20 years of it. If not, the county may have to go back to the drawing board on some elements.
That would be a mistake.
Solano County has a solid plan in place, and Measure T should be its cornerstone. We encourage voters to say yes to Measure T on Tuesday.
This article was originally published in the Times Herald.