Parkfield Then And Now Pt. 4

Parkfield capital of the Cholame Valley finally had reason to awake from its self imposed 95 year sleep. Ranching at it’s best is always a gamble but the most tenacious and hard working recognized that ranches in The Diablo Mountain range had to be bigger in order to survive so like myself and others started to consolidate by buying the land that surrounded the “home place.” 10,000 acres is a common size that seems to work (pay the bills) but some are much larger and some a little smaller.
1980 was the year that determined the direction that Parkfield would take. A developer from Los Angeles decided that this Valley split into 40 acre parcels would be very salable, especially if deer and bird hunting or raising horses and cattle were all options on these parcels. Those of us that could see the possible conflict between people that had different values and priorities and seeing what happened when ranching communities took land development as an expected transition to a more urban environment. 7 of we ranchers thought that it didn’t have to be the normal course of events. We petitioned the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to change the zoning from its present 40 acre lot size up to 160 acre minimum size. Needless to say this was not a very popular proposal but on a 3 to 2 vote the board did save Parkfield as a true ranching and farming community for 160 acre was too big to fit a developers agenda so another possible but not wanted industry left.
This zoning change did create a vacuum but did give enough time for Parkfield  to reinvent itself into a neighborhood that its priority would be, to encourage hunting, horseback riding, living the Cowboy life, cattle drives and birdwatching. The list is limited to activities that leaves Mother Nature still in charge.
Well if your going to have recreation as an industry, then the logical place to start would be downtown Parkfield. It’s glory days were long gone and by 1987 Parkfield was in bad need of a major remodel. I felt that in order to have one theme that told of Parkfield’s history I needed to own the land that our town was built on. Remember, those town lot deeds that in the 30s and 40s were sometimes used as Chips in a Parkfield Poker game?  Well they had moved from the Poker table to actually having some value and all could be bought for less than a $1,000 per lot.
So over several months in 1987 I was able to purchase most of the lots that I needed to carry out a major “do over” on Parkfield. 1988 my son John who had just graduated from Cal Poly university at San Luis Obispo Ca. decided he wanted to make his home in Parkfield. I said the cattle business will only support 1 family so why not a cafe for you? John said ” sounds good to me, I’ve got a hammer and if you have a saw let’s go for it”. John grabbed his hammer and some nails and I hauled things to build a proper cafe and in spring of 1989 John opened for business. We still needed a place for our guests to get some “slumber time”, so John went to his shop got out his hammer and in 1991 he opened the Parkfield Inn.
The renewal of a Rodeo in Parkfield took place at the new Rodeo grounds in 1993 produced by our daughter Katy and in 1994 Zee and I went to the movies and saw ” City Slickers.” A movie about 3 wanna be Cowboys on a cattle drive. I looked at Zee and said we can do that, we have the ranch, the horses, and family with the skills to make any person feel right at home on his or her horse for 3 days of living the life of a cowboy or cowgirl and in the blink of an eye 24 years of cattle drives have passed from view and into V6 ranch history.  Now as the family looks forward to our 25th year this spring I’m hoping that several of our grandchildren will be helping with the drives and getting themselves ready to take the reins to continue giving our guests a chance to experience driving cattle over the beautiful V6 ranch. John and wife Barbara have developed several different kinds of cowboy and horseback vacation events that are sure to please.
I hope you have enjoyed Parkfield history 101. Now we must look to Parkfield’s chances to survive in a tumultuous, interesting, scary, optimistic, pessimistic, brave or fearful New World. I think our Cholame Valley brightest days are starting right now and then melding into a future that will fullfil a need for people who want to reconnect with Mother Nature, Horses, livestock and a land that is much the same today as it was 100 years ago. But you say Parkfield’s success will be it’s downfall as the developer’s will arrive to carve up our Valley and then cart of the spoils. Not this time they won’t. Because of a tool called a Conservation Easement which if a land owner voluntarily chooses to place this kind of deed restriction on his land organization like The California Range Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and many local Land Trust’s are available to hold your restricted deed in perpetuity and can also help raise the funds necessary to pay you the land owner for the difference between its present “sub dividable”value and it’s restricted value when the Conservation Easement is recorded the land will be devalued because it can no longer be divided. This that’s left is called its Conservation Value and is held by a land trust that protects the land in its present state. Parkfield presently has about 40,000 acres with recorded easements. Add to this our 160 acre minimum size zoning restrictions and a Monterey County Board of Supervisor who loves Southern Monterey County in its present state and would be committing political suicide if for some reason they chose to allow the South County to sub-divided. Mother Nature you can take a sigh of relief as well as all the Wildlife that calls this Valley home and all the rest of us that enjoy this beautiful Valley, I think we’re safe from man’s heavy hand.
See Ya
Jack

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