Ellis, swim center a go
by Jon Mendelson
Jan 23, 2013 | 5544 views | 19 19 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A unanimous City Council gave the green light Tuesday, Jan. 22, to the Ellis subdivision and a developer agreement that could lead to construction of a swim center in Tracy.

In the deal, approved during a special meeting, The Surland Cos. agreed to give the city $10 million and 16 acres to build a swim center. In exchange, the city will give the Tracy-based developer priority rights to build between 1,000 and 2,250 homes during a 25-year span at Ellis, a tract of 321 acres outside city limits on the northwest corner of Corral Hollow and Linne roads.

Surland will be exempt from about $8.1 million in fees related to water supply and sewage conveyance and treatment.

Les Serpa, president of Surland and a Tracy native, called it the “most lucrative” developer agreement the city has approved. While his company will reap the deal’s financial benefits over 10 or 15 years, Serpa said Tracy will get the money for the swim center much sooner.

According to the agreement, $2 million is due to the city within 60 days of when the Local Agency Formation Commission annexes Ellis into Tracy’s city limits. The remainder is due within three years of the first payment.

The accord also stipulates that the city must designate a 16-acre site for the swim center within Ellis or forfeit the rights to the land.

The accord was modeled on an agreement passed by the City Council in 2008 but found illegal by Superior Court Judge Lesley Holland in 2011. That ruling is under appeal, though the city and Serpa hope the agreement approved Tuesday addresses Holland’s objections to the original deal.

City Development and Engineering Services Director Andrew Malik said the exchange of infrastructure money for upfront funds was a way to “leverage” a city asset into a desired amenity — namely, the swim center.

Since the 2008 developer agreement was approved, land values plummeted and a Tracy requirement to include recycled water in future development changed the bottom line for the project, Malik and Serpa said separately after the meeting.

Serpa said cost of the recycled water requirement alone was “equal to 100 percent of the reimbursements we’re getting.” That, he said, made the balance “very important.”

Malik said the deal gives Surland free rights to existing infrastructure only. The cost of any future infrastructure required by Ellis would be paid fully by the developer, Malik said.

During public comment, a stream of people — including children — urged the council to pass the agreement and secure what they said is a much-needed swim center.

Seven-year-old Logan Edwards was first to speak. The two-year veteran of the Ellis Aquatics swim club — which is not affiliated with the development — said a competitive swimming pool would help him reach his dream.

“I hope to one day earn a college swimming scholarship,” Logan read from a piece of paper. “That is why it is important to me, my fellow teammates and rest of Tracy that Ellis swim center can be approved.”

He and many others were met with cheers and applause from a council chambers packed with parents and children, many of whom wore swim club apparel. At least one child waved a sign that read, “Build us a swim center.”

But the support was not unanimous.

Several people questioned the wisdom of pursuing the developer agreement, including Mark Connolly, attorney for Tracy Alliance for a Quality Community, the group that challenged the 2008 accord.

Connolly successfully argued before Judge Holland that the 2008 agreement violated several aspects of development law. He said Tuesday that the agreement before the council was a “terrible deal” that was “worse than the original development agreement proposed.”

Celeste Garamendi, Connolly’s wife, said the deal continued the types of decisions that starved the city of recreation resources and led to a swim center drive in the first place.

“We’re in the situation that we are tonight … because of the failed policy and the failed decision around residential development that’s occurred over the last 15 years,” she said.

Serpa stood by the project.

“It’s a very good plan, and if there’s technical issues that need to be addressed, we will do that,” he said following the meeting.

Councilwoman Nancy Young, after casting her first votes regarding the development, said she approved the developer agreement for more than just the swim center.

“I think the whole design is just really innovative and progressive,” she said. “It’s part of the future.”

The future could begin as early as 2014 if there are no legal challenges to the developer agreement.

Serpa said that annexation should be finalized this year and that construction will begin in 2014. In three years, he said, the swim center should be open to Tracy residents.

• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or jmendelson@tracypress.com.



At a glance

WHAT: Tracy City Council special meeting

WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22

WHERE: City Hall, 333 Civic Center Plaza

DETAILS: Mayor Brent Ives, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel, and council members Charles Manne, Robert Rickman and Nancy Young were present.



Comments
(19)
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Whaturbeef
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January 25, 2013
Can someone tell me if Mark and Celeste are upset about about losing her election?

Can you believe it? Complaining about not having pools in past developments and trying to delay pools in the current development?

I cannot see the logic in what they are doing.

We always had The Plunge and then the Powers and Pinkie Pool.

Now someone wants to bring something nice to Tracy and they want to delay it and drive up the cost?

When Mark said this is a worse deal, I thought, ya, and isn't that YOU'RE fault, the market went down while you play your games?

Golly Wilbur, it doesn't take rocket science to figure that one out?

What do Mark and Celeste have planned next - a lawsuit against the off-road park on Tesla? Fronted by a lawyer friend from San Francisco?

Ornley_Gumfudgen
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January 25, 2013
Whaturbeef

Don't really thank thair beef was so much against th pool or th development. Thank it has more ta do with a personal grudge with Serpa frum a long time back. Th development an pool were just thair way of messin around with him at a more personal level.

Wonder when thair gonna move forward with thair one time notion of developin land fer housin on th outskirts of thair property south of Tracy an West of Patterson. Don't hear much about that these days but at one time it was somethang that had crossed Mark's mind accordin to public viewable county records if anyone takes th time ta really research in ta them.

Tracy Hills an th Ellis development definitely would have a negative effect on any efforts an plans ta develop land Southwest of Tracy an West of Patterson don't ya thank?

ABrisket
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January 24, 2013
jarbuckle,

I find it hard to believe. They actually said a stream of people said it was good for Tracy. Did you hear TRAQC say what you are saying? Why? Well, for good reason. About the only thing they say is doomsday predictions, right? How many years have they been doing that? Why doesn't he let his hair grow and carry a sign saying the sky is falling? You can join the commune if you want, I don't care.

But the fact is the majority of the people see that this is good for Tracy. Notice TRAQC was in the minority. There are probably about three people in Tracy angry enough to go and say this is bad for Tracy. The question is what are they upset about? And why can't they make a convincing case?

Lost the election? Taking it out on the voters? But that is not to imply to you of course.

In your case, you just don't want 2 million dollars.

jarbuckle
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January 25, 2013
No I been pretty clear ABrisket but you have a reading comprehension problem. I said I like the development. I said the kids are being used because they don't get their competition pool out of this developer agreement. I said that the City Staff and council have represented that they are getting 10 million dollars in this agreement but they only get 1.9 million and the residents have to subsidize the Development Agreement with 8.1 million dollars of infrastructure we already paid for. The City council will not even commit to building the pool at Ellis. If you read carefully and slowly you might understand what I am saying.
ABrisket
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January 25, 2013
Measure A/E/V did not pay for it.

Existing infrastructure was already there.

Read what Celeste said. She said we are here because of past decisions. She said bad, right?

The exchange of existing infrastructure made this deal possible.

So. Peddle your poppy seeds elsewhere.

jarbuckle
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January 24, 2013
Ornely says, "t seems that's exactly what they did. They said NO ta those in th minority who have been figntin ta keep it frum happenin.

Hey Ornely do remember Measure V that was put on the ballot to approve the Ellis Project. 70% of the registered voters in Tracy voted against the ballot measure which would have allowed the Ellis Project to go forward. I think the Ellis supporters are in the minority.

ABrisket

I personally dont care what Garmendi or Connely said. Its a bad deal because instead of the city getting 10 million dollars they give away 8.1 million dollars in infrastructure costs that the taxpayers footed the bill for. The deal only nets the city 1.9 million dollars. Thats what the article says.

"Surland will be exempt from about $8.1 million in fees related to water supply and sewage conveyance and treatment."

I still say the deal sucks and the project is good enough to stand on its own. Don't get distracted by Connely and Garamendi look at the numbers.

Ornley_Gumfudgen
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January 25, 2013
jarbuckle

As a matter of fact I do remember measure V. And since th overall financial outlook on th entire nation, which includes Tracy, is vastly different taday than it was then I don't thank it would pass taday. Thangs change, includin th majority opinion.

Besides, Measure V wasn't isolated ta just a decision about a pool which th majority of people questioned on th street taday are in favor of. It was primarily about th development of new sub divisions an th pool just happened ta be a part of one of them developments at that time.

Additionally, th while th measure did affect th Ellis development project it also affect all other development projects at th time. Ya probably don't remember that since Ellis was at th top of th hit list an really th main focus Connely an his wife Garamendi who have other grudges against th developer.

As I recall thair was sort of a moratorium on building new homes limited by th number of RGAs that could be had annually. I also recall that was ta expire sometime in 2012 or 2013.

Ya yerself intoned ya didn't have anythang against th development with yer comment, "The project looks good and probably could stand on its own without the swim center development agreement."

Hence, "They (City Council) said NO ta those in th minority who have been figntin ta keep it frum happenin;" it bein th pool facility.

Measure V wasn't about pools it was about development of new housin. So th statement stands, th City Council said "no" ta those in th minority who are against th pool an apparently measure V don't apply any more ta th Ellis development.



me-here
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January 24, 2013
Howcome this wasn't on TV? I tuned in at 6:00 pm and waited and waited and all I got was the Elvis impersonator.

On the airport. I am not a pilot but I can see the value of what it could be. All the council wants are more houses or apartments and more people. The airport has the opportunity of making money for the City and bring in executives who would benefit us.
oldshoe
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January 24, 2013
NO, the kids want a competion pool, Surland and the city wants a swim center, the kids lose again.
Seek_the_Truth
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January 23, 2013
Hallelujah!! 18 years later and the 1,000's of Ellis supporters finally defeat the 2 (maybe 3) TRAQC law firm - interest group!

The swimmers (and the rest of town) won't get a pool for years but at least it's a step in the right direction. A quality community will help attract future businesses.

TRAQC please don't respond to this post...no one likes a bitter-clinger.
Rudy_Santos
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January 23, 2013
The airport is a waste of taxpayer’s money it will never be financially self sustaining. Airport staff bloviates the number of airport operations to make it look pretty on paper to get grants and loans from the state and FAA. Over 80,000 airport operations per year is a bunch of bologna. Half of the 80,000 flight operations are touch and goes for flight training. The airport owes the city over 1.5million which will never be paid back. How many jobs has SkyView Aviation brought to Tracy? Not even one percent of residence utilizes the airport. Hot shot pilots fly in from all around like idiots buzzing over homes at 150 feet because nobody is monitoring them because Tracy Airport is a non-controlled airport. The aquatic center and Ellis makes more sense for the city than those idiot pilots.

I can hear the pilots complaining like little babies when they build Ellis “The airport was here before the dinosaurs”.

Stop complaining about those complaining.

me-here
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January 24, 2013
Rudy..do you have an airplane? Thought not.

What do you know about the viability of the airport?
ABrisket
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January 24, 2013
The airport has port-a-potties. It's certainly NOT the San Jose airport. As a matter of facts. The airport has a neighbor whose property has a 1000's of tonage of earth that was removed from years of mining. The airport could NEVER in a thousand years expand into that land. You could take all the dirt from the old pool ( a million times over ) and NEVER fill in (or replace that amount of earth. The crater is a few hundred feet deep and the dimensions would equate to 30 football fields.

The airport owners said they wanted to build a restaurant and never did. Then they said they wanted to bring some new airplane industry to Tracy and never did. I think TRAQC put them up to it and held their hand every step of the way. Was it TRAQC who helped make the announcements?

Did John Garamendi also come down from Sacramento and put his rubber stamp on it? So, what ever came from John Garamendi's rhetoric? If you ask me TRAQC is wasting their time and yours too. And if Garamendi had stayed out of Tracy wouldn't the airport be better off?

I bet he did not even bother to fly into the Tracy airport. How much did it really even mean to him? Doesn't look like much, if you ask me.

mrmnfallacy
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January 23, 2013
...by virtue of city council decision, its good to know there will NO complaints from future residents in and around Ellis subdivision regarding small airplanes flying into and out of TCY airport off the end of RWY12/30. The airport has been there for nearly 100 years with little or no possibility of closure by FAA regardless of how loud you complain. If folks don't like being near the airport, live somewhere else. I can already hear residents at Ellis complaining moments after they move into their homes that their babies can't sleep, families are unsafe, BBQs spoiled, home values diminshed, and quality of life all being disrupted by those little airplanes flying overhead. Its your choice to live there folks. The airport isn't going anywhere
oldshoe
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January 23, 2013
can't anyone on our city council say NO?
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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January 24, 2013
It seems that's exactly what they did. They said NO ta those in th minority who have been figntin ta keep it frum happenin.

I suppose "no" depends on whether or not they decide in your favor or not. In this case they said no ta th minority.
ChrisRoberts
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January 23, 2013
Letting $urland off the hook for 8 million in fee$. All for a $wim hole. Wonder how much money $erpa will be donating to council members future campaign fund$???
jarbuckle
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January 23, 2013
The project looks good and probably could stand on its own without the swim center development agreement. i feel sorry for the kids though as they have once again been used as pawns by Surland. As the article says 2 million is due 60 days from the annexation. That probably wont occur for a couple of years. Then Surlands got another three years to cough up the other 8 million dollars. Thats five years before they even collect 10 million which dosent even cover the first phase of the swim center according to the meetings I have attended. The competition pool that the kids want is not expected to be constructed until the second phase of the swim center if the money is ever there for that. Poor kids will never see that pool and the city council knows it. They should come clean and take the 3 million they got now and build those kids their competition pool at Power Park.

On the other side of the development agreement the City council gives Surland 8 million dollars worth of free infrastructure perks that we as residents have already paid for. The city only got 2 million dollars. What a snow job.
ABrisket
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January 24, 2013
jarbuckle, your talking point, is getting rundown. It is not a bad deal. I noticed how TRAQC got up and said how bad it was. Nope! What? Read this quote and you decide.

"Celeste Garamendi, Connolly’s wife, said the deal continued the types of decisions that starved the city of recreation resources and led to a swim center drive in the first place.

“We’re in the situation that we are tonight … because of the failed policy and the failed decision around residential development that’s occurred over the last 15 years,” she said."

The fact is it makes no sense to blame the economy on Serpa. Redbridge, that Serpa built is not that bad. And to be honest it had nothing to do with the real estate market.

In fact, don't you think we are in this situation because of Celeste? Didn't she say she wanted joint use with the schools several years ago when running for office? Is that how you justify TRAQC lawsuits and delays? I'm sorry, I just don't get your logic.



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