Below is by H. M. Mellano, Senior, PhD, a commercial farm owner and operator who lives and farms in South Morro Hills who shares why he thinks SOAR is bad for Oceanside and Farmers:
My father emigrated to California in 1921 and worked as a farm laborer until he was able to start farming on his own in 1925. I was born and raised on his and my mother’s small 6-acre flower farm in Los Angeles County in 1938. When I was young, I worked on his farm and for others in the LA area, except for my last two years of college at Cal Poly in Pomona California where I graduated with a degree in Horticulture and in Graduate school at UC Riverside where I earned a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology. I graduated from UCR in 1969 and then came to Oceanside in 1970 to start a new farming operation for my family because our LA operation was too small and not economically viable. Since then I have lived in South Morro Hills on our farm and worked at our family’s Oceanside farming operation. My opinions relative to the SOAR initiative are outlined numerically below:
1. SOAR limits our property rights:
For me, SOAR’s objectives seem to be a violation of my family’s private property ownership rights because it takes away our right as private property owners to do something else with our land if we decide to stop farming. Please remember that the land we farm is my family’s private property and it is not publicly owned.
2. SOAR devalues our land:
I believe that a yes vote on SOAR will cause our land value to go down and that it is not honest for the supporters of SOAR to say that this will not happen because that has, in fact, happened in Ventura County where a similar initiative was implemented a few years ago. Please see this article about what happened in Ventura County. And, please see this article about devaluing farmland being SOAR’s goal. Please remember that my family has worked for almost 100 years to build up the value of this asset and it just does not seem right that it is possible that our land can be legally devalued in this manner.
3. SOAR is rigid:
This initiative is very rigid and would force us to go through a very costly time consuming city-wide election to make changes in our farming operation that we must make from time to time to stay profitable. How can the level of rigidity and control that this initiative requires be good for Agriculture or the City of Oceanside? I think the answer is that it is not!
4. SOAR limits our ability to borrow:
Since SOAR will devalue our land value, our ability to get operating loans from any bank would be jeopardized. Why? Because banks base their financing on a family farming operation’s land value. So, when land values go down, which is what happened in Ventura County, this results in us having to reduce the size of our operation. This means that about 200 people (most of whom who are Hispanic) would start to lose their jobs. Is this good for Oceanside? I believe it is not.
5. SOAR appears to be deceptive:
SOAR does allow development into 2.5-acre estate type hobby farms in South Morro Hills. This means that when the large parcels of land like ours are sold and developed, only high-income families would be able to afford to live in South Morro Hills. This appears to me to be a classic example of hiding the true objective which I believe is very wrong and very deceptive.
6. SOAR will reduce the city’s tax base:
When property values go down tax dollars paid to the city go down because taxes are based on property values. Since taxes pay for community services and infrastructure upgrades that everyone wants and needs, the ability of the city to provide those things will be negatively affected. Therefore, SOAR jeopardizes the city’s ability to provide needed services and do infrastructure upgrades
So, therefore I believe we should:
- Vote No on SOAR for all the reasons I have mentioned above;
- Embrace the agritourism initiative that so many people have worked so hard to develop in this area over the last many years since it will help keep agriculture economically viable; and
- Develop a reasonable long-term master plan for the So. Morro Hills area that includes grand-fathering in the commercial agricultural uses that now exist. Then if commercial farming is no longer viable, there will be an orderly planned development of our area that would benefit everyone in Oceanside including my family.
- Finally, I also believe that the people who wish to have the current use continue on property like ours indefinitely could buy the property rather than try to force people like my family to continue farming even if farming is no longer profitable. Then they can deal with the financial burden of owning our farm themselves.
Thank you very much and I would be happy to respond to any questions or comments you might wish to post.
Mike Mellano Sr.