Your View: Public relations disaster

It was disappointing to see the article attempting to humanize the spokesperson who is being paid to sell Gilroy residents on a housing project to which we have publicly voiced our opposition. That said, what was most concerning—and left me scratching my head—were her comments specific to the proposal.
First, citing reasons to why agriculture is no longer viable in Santa Clara County, Mrs. Wyatt offered this: “. . . some longtime farming families in the county have kids that do not want to be in farming any longer and the only way to recoup value or to retire is to develop their land.” Since when is it the responsibility of the city of Gilroy, and by extension the residents of Gilroy, to ensure that a private landowner (outside the city of Gilroy, mind you) has the ability to recoup the value of their land and be able to retire—especially at the expense of taking on a massive expansion project that has clearly not addressed the concerns of the environmental impact report and impact on overall quality of life for Gilroy residents? An expansion that will contribute to urban sprawl, add transportation nightmares to already congested roads, and even bring unknown future financial obligations.
Second, I found Mrs. Wyatt’s comment, “people . . . don’t like seeing agricultural employees,” particularly offensive. The “employees” that she refers to are hardworking individuals, who many days are at work before the sun rises and toil long into the sizzling Gilroy summer afternoons. These folks do not deserve to be called out as part of the issue with this project—scapegoated and treated like second-class citizens. They provide an invaluable service that allows Gilroy and the community at large to have access to local fresh fruit and vegetables. They are an integral part of what makes Gilroy a rich and diverse place to live. This coded—and frankly, derogatory—language has no place in what should be a reasoned and honest debate.
If this is the type of effort developers are putting forth with hopes of changing the minds of project opponents, they have surely stepped in it again. Public relations outreach? This was a public relations disaster!
Ryan Keegan