A controversial subdivision and a pared-down development agreement for an aquatics center will go before the Tracy City Council for approval next week.
The Surland Cos.’ Ellis subdivision is slated for 2,250 homes at the northwest corner of Linne and Corral Hollow roads.
Surland CEO Les Serpa calls Ellis "one of the best blueprints of planning since Redbridge that the city’s ever seen."
Surland also built Redbridge, which won design awards and reshaped future homebuilding in Tracy, as many of its details are now codified in the city’s general plan.
What’s in it for both the city and the developer has shrunk in the past few weeks.
As the deal was first pitched to the public, Serpa would win the rights to build 3,850 homes — 1,600 more than would be built at Ellis — in exchange for $20 million and 20 acres of land given to the city for an elaborate swim center.
But the right to build an extra 1,600 homes at some unidentified time and place in the future caused an uproar with other developers, since the right to build houses is restricted to 600 a year under the city’s growth law and because there’s a de facto moratorium on homebuilding until 2012.
"It was in the best interest of everyone to take those off the table," Serpa said.
Instead of having to pay the city $20 million and give 20 acres of land for the swim center, Surland will give $10 million and 16 acres, which it can take back and construct homes on if the city doesn’t begin construction on the swim center in the two years after the property is annexed into the city. Serpa said he expects the land to become part of Tracy sometime next year.
Ellis critic Celeste Garamendi, a two-time mayoral candidate who helped write the city’s growth law passed by voters in 2000, called the proposed agreement with Surland a "huge charade perpetrated on the public."
"All the time and money spent selling the public on an aquatics center was just political cover to get another 2,500 homes approved," she said. "There’s not going to be a swim center at Ellis. The public is just getting a multimillion dollar bill for a huge subdivision that they don’t need right now."