The price of TRAQC’s as-of-now successful lawsuit against the city of Tracy and The Surland Cos. might, in the short term, be a swim center. But it’s not TRAQC’s fault the developer agreement was struck down in a court of law. Lay that blame, if you must, on the city.
Because it was Tracy, not TRAQC or Surland (which was just trying to get its project off the ground), that gave away too much while negotiating with a developer in hopes of getting land, money or some other amenity. In this case, a swim center.
The tentative decision by Judge Lesley Holland that ruled invalid the agreement between the city of Tracy and Surland — which paved the way for the Ellis development and an aquatics park — seems convincing and well-reasoned.
Holland explains clearly how, in agreeing to give Surland rights to residential growth allotments good for land anywhere around Tracy and not just in the Ellis specific area, the city was simply outside the law.
Barring an appeal of Holland’s decision, or a new Ellis deal, it looks like the city wasted staff time, money and effort for an agreement that was not going to withstand a legal challenge.
The upside is, Tracy has a chance to make a fresh decision about its growth priorities and how it goes about trading building rights for amenities, as well as what those sought-after amenities are.
Right now, that focus should be on helping businesses and the local economy grow, not residential building.
And when the time is ripe to build single-family homes again, we hope elected leaders and city officials will more carefully toe the legal line in trying to build a better place for residents to call home.