Letter to the Editor
By Dustin Campbell
Ours is a big, complex world. Countless issues pop up every day that stand to affect our lives. However, with only 24 hours in a day, you and I can’t expect to become experts on each of these issues. So how do we cope? We look to the facts, we look to the experts and we confer with people we know and trust.
If the issue is related to farming – specifically farming in Oceanside – who better to ask than local farmers themselves?
Over the last several months, we, Oceanside farmers, have taken the time to become experts on Measure Y. We’re writing this letter to share with our neighbors the truth: Measure Y is a blatant attack on local agriculture.
Measure Y aside, this farming community of ours is not without its challenges. The high cost of water, competition from foreign imports, and an acute shortage of farm labor make our already difficult job that much harder.
Now add to that the threat from Oceanside’s Measure Y, a ballot initiative slated for the city’s November ballot, which could spell the end of local farming.
Let us be clear: Measure Y is bad for farming and bad for Oceanside. To protect agriculture and preserve farmland, we urge you to Vote No on Y.
There have been numerous contradictory messages floating around about the measure, and it’s easy to become confused. As farming families here, we feel it’s important to set the record straight about Y and its disastrous impacts for local agriculture. We ask that you hear us out, because it is our livelihoods and properties that are at risk.
The wealthy estate owners pushing Measure Y would have you believe the initiative will save farms. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They also make themselves out to be farmers, yet there is a big difference between owning a 2.5-acre residential lot landscaped with fruit trees (them) and operating a real working farm with employees and ongoing financing challenges (us).
We see Measure Y for what it really is – a threat to local farms – and we are voting no. With the challenges farmers already face, it would be practically unbearable if we were forced to comply with the burdens of Measure Y, including land use regulations that no other property owner in Oceanside has to follow.
In fact, no other farmer in San Diego County faces anything as damaging as the rules in Measure Y.
Looking ahead as little as one generation, the legacy of Measure Y will be a carpet of 2.5-acre estate lots where farm fields once stood. That’s because Measure Y’s onerous rules reduce farmers’ property values through new land use restrictions. This creates a cascade effect, hurting farmers’ ability to secure the loans they need to cover operating costs in between harvests.
Without those loans, farmers will be left with terrible options: let their land lie fallow, sell their property as multi-acre residential estate lots to salvage some value – as Measure Y allows – or face bankruptcy. In the face of these alternatives, it’s clear that Measure Y in fact encourages the conversion of farmland to multi-acre estate lots.
Experts who have examined Measure Y and its likely impacts agree. One report from the chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University concluded Measure Y will likely cause “the eventual demise of active farms in Oceanside, with land either being left to go fallow or sold into large estates for the wealthy.” Another independent study found Y could “make it financially infeasible for farms to remain in business.”
The California Strawberry Commission has also taken notice. They see the writing on the wall and have stated, “This initiative (Measure Y) will be detrimental if passed and will contribute to the continued loss of strawberry acreage and the demise of farming in Oceanside.”
Measure Y’s wealthy backers do not have real farmers or the community’s best interest at heart.
We’re calling their ballot measure what it is – a self-interested attempt by residential estate owners to isolate themselves from the rest of the city. And our farms would be the unfortunate victims.
Please join the San Diego County Farm Bureau, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, and local farmers, business owners and taxpayers in voting NO on Measure Y – to protect Oceanside farms.