“We’re literally five blocks from downtown Tracy. It’s not like we’re some outskirts neighborhood,” Di Pasquale said. “It’s very dangerous, being that there’s two schools close by where children have to walk to and from school and they have to walk in the street.”
Fellow Southside resident Ray Morelos is also fed up.
“It’s the neighborhood that growth forgot,” Morelos, a former city councilman, said. “I attended South School back in the second grade, which is over 60 years ago. Now, 60 years later, it’s still the same. No sewer, no sidewalks, no gutters, and still on septic tanks. It’s still the same.”
The southern city limit of Tracy was once marked by West South Street, leaving most of Southside Tracy as a rural part of San Joaquin County. That meant no city amenities and only well water for most farms and homes in the neighborhood.
Tracy grew and incorporated the area south of West South Street — but that did not change the rural nature of the area, according to Public Works Director David Ferguson.
“When it was annexed to the city, it continued to be under those standards,” Ferguson said.
Now the city has grown up around Southside, and Di Pasquale, who bought her house 14 years ago, thinks it’s time it offered residents there normal urban amenities, such as sidewalks and sewer and water access.
“I want to see some changes,” she said. “My ultimate goal is sidewalks up and down Mount Diablo, South C and Mount Oso.”
Di Pasquale and nine other Southside residents stood before the City Council during the Jan. 21 meeting and asked council members to take action and provide those amenities to their community.
Ferguson said the cost of installing those features, which is still unknown, would likely be borne by the residents.
“They would have to pay connection fees for the construction,” he said.
Morelos believes the property owners can’t do it themselves.
“With regards to property owners paying for their part, it was too costly,” he said. “The city still can’t come up with a formula to help the property owners pay to solve that problem down there.”
Ferguson said that without direction from the council, the city staff cannot act.
“The city is not going in and using city funds to install sidewalks, curbs and gutters,” he said. “It would be a policy decision for anything to change. Council sets policy.”
During a regular City Council meeting May 7, the city staff presented three possible ways to pay for infrastructure improvement in the Southside. The council could form a Community Facilities District where property owners could pool their money to pay for the improvements. It could use $89,899 remaining at the time in the Residential Area Specific Plan to pay for city amenities. Or it could do nothing and wait to see if the California Legislature would pass a bill that would fund such projects.
The council voted unanimously to wait and see if the Legislature acted.
Morelos said he had watched city inaction on those issues for years.
“If the city was willing to help, at least in that neighborhood, they could have done something at least piecemeal, and they haven’t done anything at all,” he said.
The public works director said he understood the residents’ concerns about the children’s safety and the appearance of the neighborhood and had walked the area twice so he could see the issues himself.
“We want, obviously, the city to be safe for everyone,” Ferguson said. “I understand that, and I would probably feel the same way if I lived there. But again, for the city to do anything, it goes back to a policy change.”
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at firstname.lastname@example.org and 830-4231.