The council’s preliminary decisions outlasted the meeting’s two-hour time limit and were continued to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, at City Hall, 333 Civic Center Plaza.
Growth on horizon
Though further City Council approval is needed to finalize specifics, the council unanimously voted Monday for city staff to prioritize the city’s limited number of residential growth allotments (RGA) for three identified projects.
A RGA is a necessary prerequisite to obtaining a residential building permit. According to the growth management ordinance — which helps prioritize and manage development in Tracy — the city can only issue 725 RGAs a year. However, the average number issued each year is about 600.
The council agreed with an analysis by city planner Bill Dean that the trio of unrelated residential projects are farthest along in the building process, and so should be given priority for RGAs — a move city staff described as “sequencing growth.”
The three projects are Ellis, which is slated for land outside city limits on the northwest corner of Linne and Corral Hollow roads; Tracy Hills, a massive development that would straddle Interstate 580 to the city’s southwest; and the Kagehiro project, the third phase of a development that would be north of Valpico Road and east of Corral Hollow Road.
Infill development — projects within city limits surrounded by existing development — would also be given priority.
Dean said the council’s decision will help staff determine what other infill projects currently underway in Tracy are awarded RGAs.
“We simply don’t have enough permits such that every project (proposed in Tracy) can start concurrently,” Dean said. “Yes, we’ve been in an environment recently where we haven’t issued a lot of building permits, but … it’s important for us to think how our system can be tuned up to allow the maximum number of permits.”
Following the meeting, Les Serpa, president of The Surland Cos. which is developing the Ellis project, said selecting projects with the most approvals seemed a fair way to determine which projects would get built next.
City Manager Leon Churchill said after the meeting that the step puts Tracy in the homestretch of finishing work on its growth management ordinance.
“If this is football, we’re at first and goal,” Churchill said after the meeting.
The City Council also decided to use a multifaceted approach to pay for a proposed aquatics park.
The park’s first phase, as preliminarily accepted by the council in January 2011, includes a “lazy river,” activity pool, water slide, play structure, water spray area and various restroom and shade structures.
The first phase, which was estimated Monday to cost about $15.7 million, does not include a competition-sized pool.
In 2008, the council approved an agreement with The Surland Cos., developer of the Ellis project, that would exchange building rights for money and land to build an aquatics park.
The park could go in the proposed Ellis development.
Though an initial agreement is before an appeals court after being ruled illegal by a lower court judge, the city of Tracy and Surland are still working toward a deal that would grant building, sewer and water rights for the Ellis project in exchange for $10 million and 16 acres of land for the swim park.
The five councilmen also want staff to see if other developer agreements could contribute money toward the park, which a consultant in January 2011 said would cost more than $30 million to completely build.
Including the $10 million anticipated from the Surland developer agreement, staff estimates the city has an additional $4 million to use toward an aquatics park.
As part of the effort to build the swim park, city staff will also craft for council’s final approval a public facilities fee attached to future development that would bring in an estimated $10.9 million over 30 years.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel said the multi-pronged approach is the best chance to build a swim park in a short timeframe.
“(This option) is the only one that gives us the chance to complete this facility for this generation,” he said.
The cost of building the swim park is only one piece of the financial puzzle.
Council members expressed hope that the center would generate enough revenue that it wouldn’t need a subsidy from the general fund, which was estimated in June to be $2.2 million in the red for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Consultant John Courtney of RJM Design Group, which has built aquatics parks in various California cities, estimated the center would cost about $808,869 to operate and maintain annually, not counting security or insurance.
He said ticket prices would need to be set at $6.75 and $8.75 for Tracy children and adults, and $8.75 and $10.75 for out-of-town children and adults. That would generate an estimated $814,022 from an expected 78,000 people that would visit the “state of the art” facility each year, Courtney said.
But that would only be the price point for the first phase of the swim park.
As a competition pool and other features are added, Courtney said ticket prices must increase to prevent the swim park from requiring a subsidy from the city.
“This is what would be needed to be charged to break even,” Courtney said. “As we add more amenities, the price of the ticket will have to increase.”
He added that the market should be able to bear that price point.
“There’s really nothing like this in your area,” Courtney said. “That really drives the marketability of it.”
As a cost-saving possibility, the council asked staff to look into a public-private partnership for running the park.
Churchill agreed a public-private alternative could be explored as part of the “due diligence” for the project, and added this was the first time the council sought to pursue such an option.
The council then decided to delay until Tuesday afternoon time for public comment about what features are most important for a swim park.
•Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org
At a glance
• WHAT: City Council special meeting
• WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1; continued to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2
• WHERE: Tracy Transit Station, 60 E. Sixth St.; continued to City Hall, 333 Civic Center Plaza
• DETAILS: Mayor Brent Ives, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel, councilmen Steve Abercrombie, Bob Elliott and Robert Rickman present.