Tracy Talks: Slow growth or smart growth?
by Anne Marie Fuller
Feb 06, 2014 | 4340 views | 14 14 comments | 122 122 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Attracting new businesses to Tracy is the buzz around town. With popular stores leaving the mall, some people have turned their focus to Measure A, a slow-growth measure that was passed by voters back in 2000.

In effect, under the Growth Management Ordinance, Measure A reduces the annual limit on residential building permits issued in any given year to 750 at most and 600 on average. Before Measure A, the annual limit was 1,500 permits per year and 1,200 on average.

“We need to remove our slow-growth initiative and change it to smart growth,” local resident Margaret Edwards said. “We need to think outside of the triangle. None of the big-league enterprises will come here — as a commercial real estate broker, I know. I see big-named enterprises pass Tracy by because of Measure A.”

Edwards suggested drawing up a new measure for residents to vote on.

“Until another ballot is presented and passed, nothing will change,” she said. “I am willing to put a ballot on the books to stop no growth and initiate smart growth.”

Celeste Garamendi, who helped author Measure A, said the slow-growth measure still has a place in Tracy.

“Measure A is one useful tool to assure we focus development where needed,” Garamendi said. “Smart growth helps control sprawling development. Look at nearby Livermore. It has an urban growth boundary and requirements of the number of housing permits issued. Livermore hasn’t been damaged, they’ve enhanced the city. It has a vibrant downtown that many are attracted to.”

Larry Gamino, the president of the West Side Pioneer Association, said the availability of natural resources controls Tracy’s growth.

“Tracy is the gateway city to the Central Valley, which makes it ideal for housing,” Gamino said. “Back when I graduated from high school, in 1970, our population was only about 10,000 residents. When Heinz closed, that freed up that water usage for residential development. Tracy experienced an explosion of growth. The biggest factor to growth or non-growth is the water or lack of water.”

What are your thoughts: Have the economic dynamics of our town changed enough that we should consider a new ballot measure, or has Measure A saved our town from becoming another overpopulated city?

• Anne Marie Fuller is the host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at annemarie@columnist.com.

 
Comments
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alaska1
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February 08, 2014
Read what Margaret said: We need more commercial enterprises in Tracy! Businesses are leaving, not coming. Businesses have criteria for moving to an area and part of it is population. It is so sad to see businesses leaving Tracy. The city council worked so hard to get them here and then the residents don't support them. Please support your local businesses to keep them here and add more.
Sneaky
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February 10, 2014
I am all for supporting local stores but it depends on what you mean by that. I mostly buy in Tracy, far more than all these folks who say they have to go to Livermore to find things. I just have not found that to be true.

That said, if support means just handing them my money regardless of quality of service or price then I am not on board. Two recent experiences come to mind.

In one case a local big box electronics store had on display a set of car speakers at a fair price. When I asked to buy a set I was told they were out of stock and they tried to sell me a more expensive set and offered to order the out of stock set. Despite being in the store ready to buy I went home to the internet and Amazon. I got the same item cheaper with no bull crap. Yes, I could have waited for them to order the item but I was offended by their not having a displayed item in stock and by the attempt to sell me something pricier.

The other experience was with an eclectic small chain furniture store near the big box store. Their website listed an item that it turned out the local store didn't have. So I had to drive to Stockton. Isn't the point of a chain to have the same items in every store?
TracyCAcommuter
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February 11, 2014
You'll get no argument from anyone that we need more commercial enterprises in Tracy. How we get that is the important part. The solution suggested in this column is to grow the housing base at a faster rate.



It just will not work.

Why do we have the problem of residents not supporting local businesses? When the wealthiest segment of the population get back from over the hill, many businesses have shut down for the day. Many people simply do not have time to shop local, and they shop near where they work when it is better quality or pricing, or simply more convenient.

ZeframCochrane
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February 11, 2014
Everybody keeps complaining about growth and that's probably what scares businesses away.

And the homes were built faster and created more problems after proposition A.

Slow growth really mucked this town up. It's time people see slow growth for the ugly truth behind it.

Victor brings out some interesting points. I will go one further. Growth is like crime. You cannot stop it. You can only move it.

That's pretty much what happened after proposition A when the community of Mountain House sprung up.

Many people think housing in Tracy suffered because of growth, but home prices were ok because we had a mix of homes. Some still not underwater.

Many think slow growth helped Tracy, but houses were still being built until developers themselves stopped building.

Slow growth may sound nice, but all it did was damage Tracy businesses.

I'm surprised at how little most people know about the local real estate market and local business in their community.
Sneaky
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February 07, 2014
Measure A is our savior, not an impediment. The last thing I want to see is all of the open fields obliterated by endless housing developments. Without the open space we would be just another over crowded bay area city. Tracy leaders should not have a goal of turning this town into another Miserablepitas or double-stacked housing Dublin.
ZeframCochrane
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February 11, 2014
People complain about open fields. The idea of putting more people into apartments above shopping is desirable to some people. Not everybody is miserable with it. Dublin and Santana Row are not something that makes miserable lives. I know people that moved to Cordelane ID and are now complaining and would move back if they didn't have to take care of aging parents in ID. To each his own, but maybe a place like ID is in your future.
jimf01
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February 07, 2014
Margaret Edwards claims "...nothing will change," she said. "I am willing to put a ballot on the books to stop no growth and initiate smart growth".

But we don't hear that "smart" growth, to the developers and real estate folks is build it (massive amounts of housing) and they (businesses with good jobs) will come. I call that stupid growth. All we built was a commuter town, we have a daily brain drain over the Altamont Pass.

What happened? Is the reasoning that we just didn't build ENOUGH housing to make it work?

Einstein famously said that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". It doesn't take an Einstein to know it didn't work in the 90's, and it will not work now.
jimf01
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February 07, 2014
Without Measure A and it's controls, the economic downturn would have had a much more devastating effect on Tracy than it did.

The growth that was happening before Measure A was out of control, homes were sprouting up like weeds, the only problem was the jobs were not coming along, there was great promise of a university or a large Silicon Valley style business park coming to Tracy, where are they?

Tracy leaders need to worry about bringing jobs here and filling up the foreclosed homes we have in Tracy before we expand growth of housing here, it's just common sense.

Saying large enterprise is bypassing Tracy because of slow growth is nonsense. Livermore and Pleasanton have similar slow growth measures in place, and they seem to be doing fine, don't they?
ZeframCochrane
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February 11, 2014
You mean their downtown? Their downtown may be doing fine because demographics are a little different and incomes are a little higher there.

Another factor that has been overlooked is that business is stagnant there. Pleasanton used to have the biggest business park in CA, mow its pale in comparison.

Now, business is shrinking. It has somewhat been replaced by a lot of car dealers. And yes, car dealers do help the economy with sales tax. But it's a sort of a property tax replacement gig.

Tracy doesn't have adjacent communities as large as Pleasanton and Livermore and Dublin and etc. It only has the Carbona store, the Banta Inn and the Byron fruit stands. There is a big difference. A big difference.

If other towns sprung up nearby to Tracy that had also embraced slow growth it probably wouldn't hurt Tracy. Think Livermore and Pleasanton. But to have only one town that stands out there off the freeway by itself and shuns growth was really just showing the voters had a serious lack of intellect.

Either that or the voters just learned a few buzzwords that sounded good at the moment, probably read the buzzwords on some political flyer or something. But this lack of intellict is dangerously akin to having someone smack businesses in the face.

Slow growth sucks the life out of Tracy. I would really like to see somebody write a growth charter for Tracy that includes smart growth and shows that we finally learned our lesson and our community is willing to move into the 21st century.

No more backwards driving. We need a new chapter. It's imperative mandate written on the fact that growth is inevitable.

We can no longer bury our heads in the sands of proposition A and pretend slow growth will be our savior. Slow growth is chocking the life out of Tracy and has stifled our future long enough. We need businesses to finally begin to look our way.

jarbuckle
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February 07, 2014
The city cant afford to hire enough police even as the crime rises. They cant afford to staff the fire houses. They got a half cent sales tax increase and promised not to reduce fire and police services. They still cant make ends meet and have reduce the staff at the police department and fire department. More homes no thanks. the city cant provide services to the existing residents.
ZeframCochrane
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February 11, 2014
I was at first really roused up against the half cent sales tax until this year and late last year when I realized two things.

First is that the half cent sales tax had little or no effect on me or my business. Second is that housing prices started going back up and I realized that the sales tax is temporary.

If housing prices do go back up, I will end up paying more money, after the half cent sales tax goes away, strictly speaking because my property tax will go up thousands of dollars more than the half cent tax.

I would actually rather keep the half cent tax and pay less on my property tax bill. But we can't keep such a sweet deal forever and we need to make sure we can pay our fair share for police and fire, I guess.

Like they say only two things for sure in life and one is taxes.
victor_jm
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February 07, 2014
In a world where the economic imperative is either grow or die, the idea of "small is beautiful" seems naïve.

Ultimately, our supposedly creative thinkers must think within the clutch of an "invisible hand" and their platitudes about thinking "outside the triangle" is nothing more than thinking inside another triangle that lies within the original triangle.

Even the advocates of "smart" growth deluded themselves about what this idea means.

Is it possible for a man to spiritually and intellectually grow without incessant consumption?

Stop the propagation.

Growth isn't what we need.
ZeframCochrane
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February 11, 2014
You mean like the population control that the Chinese government imposed?
victor_jm
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February 13, 2014
ZeframCochrane,

My perspective in regard to the planet is about "sustainability" and "survivability." I think your attitude is about "profitability." Keep breeding the cows for the dogs.


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