City to fix brown, overgrown landscaping
by Michael Langley
Jun 20, 2014 | 7242 views | 22 22 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Unkempt and overgrown
Traffic heads south past a section of dead grass and weeds in the landscaping along Corral Hollow Road near Foothill Ranch Drive on Wednesday.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
view slideshow (6 images)
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to cancel the contract of the company that was supposed to maintain grass and landscaping around the city.

Public Works Director David Ferguson told council members during their regular meeting that the work performed by Sycamore Landscaping Corp. of Livermore — which took the three-year contract to maintain 212 acres of city parks and streets in June 2013 — was sub-par.

“The sum of the work performed has not been acceptable or conformed to all requirements outlined in the agreement,” Ferguson said.

According to Ferguson, the shape of city streetscapes had been declining steadily since Sycamore stopped working April 23. The Press was not able to reach Ferguson about specifically how the landscaping company had failed.

On May 28, the city issued a notice of contract termination.

Crews from the Public Works Department have tried to maintain some areas of town since Sycamore stopped working, but Tracy residents took notice of the brown or dead landscaping.

Councilman Charles Manne and Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel both said they had received calls from members of the public about the state of Tracy’s greenery.

“We have received a number of calls, as you have as well, expressing concerns about these conditions,” interim City Manager Maria Hurtado said during the council meeting. “We have had a drastically visible decline in the quality of the city’s landscape areas across town and in some of our neighborhoods.”

The item was part of the consent calendar — items which are usually not discussed before approval — but Maciel pulled the item from the calendar so the city could discuss it openly.

“One of the main

reasons I pulled this item is that we have an opportunity to perhaps reassure members of the public that this is being dealt with,” Maciel said.

The maintenance of parks and other green areas in the city is paid for by landscape maintenance districts. Districts are established by new housing or commercial developments. Property owners pay a levy each year to fund landscape maintenance and must vote to approve any change in the amount they pay. The amount the community votes to spend effectively becomes the budget for service in that area, which can make service levels vary between different districts.

There are 41 landscape maintenance districts within Tracy, each with its own levy amount based upon economic development units. A single-family home is one unit. Undeveloped private property is five units per acre, as is developed non-residential property.

According to a city list, the costs per unit range from zero to $410.663. Most parts of central Tracy do not pay LMD fees, because they were in the city before the establishment of the first district in 1985.

“Is there any concern that there is a lack of funds in LMDs to get them up to where they should be and then continue to maintain them?” Maciel asked, referring to how the landscaping repairs would be paid for.

Administrative Services Director Jenny Haruyama responded that it was a concern.

“Some zones are underfunded,” she said. “They do have reserve amounts, but it’s going to require a vote of the community if they want to, in fact, levy a higher maximum amount.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the cancellation of the contract with Sycamore Landscaping Corp. and authorized Ferguson to hire a temporary service starting in July while the city seeks a permanent solution. Ferguson said that city workers would try to keep up with maintenance until a temporary company is found. The public works director told council members he expected to have a contract with a new permanent vendor for the council vote upon in September.

The Press tried to contact Sycamore Landscaping Corp., but no one at the company was answering phones.

Tracy residents can see a map of the landscape maintenance districts throughout the city at the city website.

• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at mlangley@tracypress.com or 830-4231.

Comments
(22)
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YourWorseNightmare
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July 08, 2014
FYI the City of Tracy recently hired a new landscaping company named XL Landscape Developer and funny thing is XL hired Sycamore employees. Go figure.
observation
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July 02, 2014
Maria Hurtado is responsible for the new plan. Send public employees out to work on Saturdays. Double and triple bill the landscape district for service. Great revenue generator Maria. An accounting please!
YourWorseNightmare
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July 01, 2014
The City of TRACY has a bad history of misuse of tax money.The City DID STOP PAYING the CONTRACTOR.So now the question is WHERE IS OUR TAX MONEY GOING,MR. FERGUSON??? Your not planning to pack up and go back to Oakland,are you? Can you tell us why the Landscape Contractor was forced to stop working? Did you keep your part of the contract,TRACY? The previous Contractor like Sycamore had to leave under the same circumstances. Dear fellow CITIZENS OF TRACY I URGE you take action, get involved in your community, SEEK THE TRUTH!!!
LeonsFired
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July 01, 2014
It should be worst, YourWorstNightmare. Anyhow I was assuming the opposite: that weak leadership probably paid them through the May termination date. I'd be glad to learn we withheld payment, especially for sub-par work. I'm sure the money is traceable, nobody's that dumb.

I think Maciel's showboating shows the politician in him. As RayderFan said why did it take so long to terminate the contract? He claims talking about it in June is supposed to show the City's sense of urgency. It's July 1st and our city vegetation is in shambles. Like they say in football "just hit something." You could probably pay my lawn guy $5k and he'd have all city streets cleaned. Actions, not words Maciel.
108MW
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June 21, 2014
Tracy looks awful.
tinwings
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June 21, 2014
Well,

Lets see, we've laid off most of our grounds people and entered into a costly contract with a non performing vendor. How's that for holding the budget down.

As we continue to outsource our basic needs we tend to lose control and become victims of excuses by contractors who don't perform.

I suggest we re hire our hard working grounds employees back and stop building projects we can't maintain. If our city is to have the pride it deserves, bring back our loyal workers and spend our taxes wisely by using the budget money wisely. Remember, buy cheap, get cheap.
CharlieWaffles
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June 21, 2014
Sounds like someone dont have a job no more and is still mad
newtotracy
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June 24, 2014
I agree...no reason to outsource jobs that can be handled with city workers instead of city contractors. response time would probably be better and in the long run, we'd have less instances like this and would probably save money.

that said, I'm also a fan of gov't jobs being what they used to be...paid lousy but you got great benefits...now they pay great and you get great benefits...it's no wonder we're having issues!
CharlieWaffles
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June 20, 2014
Nevada has it right they dont care about green grass have rock front and back yards its a waste of water, time cutting it,unless your rich and im not
Sero7
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June 20, 2014
This is the best news I have seen in a long time. This was long overdue!!!!!!! It was to the point that I was embarrassed of my neighborhood because the streets coming into my otherwise nice neighborhood were looking just horrible. I actually had a graduation party at my house and went out to the median in the area I new my guest would be driving through and went to work on the weeds just so my friends coming over wouldn't see it all look like such a disaster. I am happy this is being addressed, though it should have never taken this long to take actions as thing are in pretty bad shape out their! Way to go Public Works , so or not.
victor_jm
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June 20, 2014
Maybe human population control? Maybe an end to pet ownership? Maybe mitigation or abolition of animal breeding for food? Maybe a shorter work week? Maybe less alcohol sedation? Maybe less soda degradation? Maybe less consumption of e-gadgets?



rayderfan
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June 20, 2014
Maybe staying on topic.
victor_jm
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June 20, 2014
I was on topic, Rayderfan, though I thought you might not think so. I forget to mention securing the border. Maybe reducing the number of professional football teams, starting with the joke franchise in Oakland (still on topic).
newtotracy
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June 20, 2014
I'm with tracypigeon and sneaky...we shouldn't even have grassy medians...in a state plagued by drought. if we're going to ante up and spend money...spend it on artificial turf and get 10 years out of it with low maintenance (the new stuff looks pretty real...I just did my back lawn with it in an effort to pitch in on conservation).

or...iceplants and oleanders...if it'll grow on the freeway...it's maintenance free! both even bloom to add a little color...

pretending we have water coming out of our ears is a lot like the emperor's new clothes...
tracypigeon
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June 20, 2014
Perhaps now is a good time for the city to consider low-maintenance, drought-resistant, water-conserving landscaping (or even hardscaping). If it is just ground-cover, there are a lot of options that would fit those maintenance/conservation concerns but are also aesthetically pleasing to look at. It doesn't make sense to put back the same plants when there's no funds for maintenance. They'd just die out again.
cody01
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June 20, 2014
Read between the lines. They stopped paying the "Contractor". Cut back on the funds for the "Project". Plus water concerns.

In this article, There is no comment by the "Contractor".

Typical San Joaquin valley politics and justice. One side of a story is all one needs. It's a matter of who gets there first. Who is prettier. Now, Who complained about the landscape? Go figure.
rayderfan
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June 20, 2014
They stopped working in April and we're just now taking action to end their contract? Whom, at the city, is responsible for managing that contract. Seems to me we should have fired the contractor back in May.
sb2482
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June 20, 2014
I can see not watering more than a few times per week due to the drought but not picking all the weeds and not trimming bushes so they don't block the sidewalks just makes the city look awful. Having homeowners who don't care is bad enough but letting the public areas go is worse. If you don't want to use water, put in desert landscaping. At least the city wouldn't look like a Detroit wanna-be.
1resident
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June 20, 2014
This has been my thought as well. Having traveled to Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona recently, you see the city landscaping is clean, it looks good, is extremely low maintenance and obviously with drought resistant plants. The kicker is the conservation of water with such landscaping. I love green, I love grass, but from an economic standpoint it doesn't make sense.
Sneaky
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June 20, 2014
I don't see the value in spending money on landscaping. The images in the article show the areas in question turning into natural California ground cover. If it were up to me I would let all of it return to its natural state. There would be a huge benefit in terms of both cost to taxpayers and water conservation. I am sure we could all think of many more beneficial things that could be done with the money that is currently being used to maintain and water plants. Personally I would rather see it go to education. In addition, the city encourages folks to conserve water yet continues to waste water themselves. Throwing money and water at landscaping is simply moronic.
behonestguys
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June 20, 2014
So what's the difference between wasting water on landscaping and building a swim center with lazy rivers, waterfalls, etc.? Isn't that a waste of water too? We live in a semi-arid dessert. We need to adjust our lifestyles to reflect that harsh geographical and climatological reality. The days of lush green lawns and big water parks is coming to an end.


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