The council asked the city staff to develop a permit parking plan during the regular meeting Jan. 21 after hearing concerns from neighbors who live on 12th Street and Berverdor Avenue between East Street and Mae Avenue.
Dozens of students from Tracy High filled the council chambers Tuesday to suggest some other solutions.
“We don’t choose to park in the neighborhoods. We do not want to park in the neighborhoods,” senior Katie Low said during the public comment period.
The assistant superintendent of business services for Tracy Unified School District, Casey Goodall, said he and Superintendent Dr. James Franco had personally counted the 250 student parking spaces at Tracy High and also found about 80 cars parked in the neighborhood on one day. He said part of the problem is that the school is on a 32-acre piece of land. He estimates the student population of more than 2,000 would ideally need 55 to 60 acres.
“It would be much more convenient to be dropped off,” Tracy High senior Sarah Jessee told the council. “You have to keep in mind that this is a commuter town. The reason both my parents work is so eventually I can afford to go to college, which is the whole point of high school: to push out our students to be productive in the real world.”
Neighbors had complained about damage to their parked cars by other cars speeding through the narrow streets, trash left on their lawns, public urination and general loitering by THS students.
Senior Kyla Jessen, who was elected by 140 students in Dr. Steven Drouin’s social studies classes to speak for the interests of Tracy High, suggested mending fences with a good-neighbor day.
“Throwing a barbecue and doing some yard work for the neighbors, picking up trash,” Jessen said, “so we can restore that relationship.”
Jessen told the council that the students had discussed many possible ways to address the neighbors’ concerns. She said most students cannot carpool, because by law, most cannot drive teenage passengers. A park-and-ride program would not address the needs of students in the regional occupational program, who work off campus for course credit, or those in work-experience programs, she said.
Goodall told the council that TUSD is forming a committee of students, school administrators, Drouin and district administrators that will meet by the end of the month to brainstorm options. When asked by Councilman Charles Manne how TUSD would include the neighborhood, Goodall responded that district leaders would engage with neighbors with a smaller group once some ideas came from the first committee.
Tracy High senior Chad Leiske said working with people living near the school is a core principle of their next steps.
“The parking program will not fix the majority of the issues that the neighbors have,” Leiske said. “The idea of a good-neighbor program is such a good idea, because it lets students the ability to work in a community setting and really establish the relationship, the dialogue.”
Following the public comments from the students, every member of the City Council praised their commitment to finding solutions outside of city action. Councilwoman Nancy Young added that some adults could learn lessons from the students about not just presenting problems but also suggesting answers.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel, who publicly criticized TUSD during the council meeting Jan. 21 for not dealing with the problem earlier, praised the district.
“The school district has become very proactive in dealing with this,” Maciel said.
Mayor Brent Ives suggested waiting 60 days to decide about a parking permit pilot program, to allow the district and students time to reach some solutions with the neighborhood. All five council members agreed by consensus to the two-month delay.
After the decision, Goodall praised Drouin and his students.
“Dr. Drouin, I think, engaged his students in a really positive way,” the assistant superintendent said. “He hasn’t told them what to do, he’s made them think about the impacts of actions.”
Drouin, who was in the audience but did not speak to the council, was happy with his classes.
“Democracy is compromise. I am pretty pleased in general,” he said.
City reviews financial transparency plan
The council also heard from the director of administrative services for the city, Jenny Haruyama, about plans to update the way the city handles its money.
Haruyama said she was in the process of revising the auditing process and reviewing city financial policies.
“While I really believe the city internal controls work, they’re solid, there’s always value in doing a self-check,” she said. “We’re looking very carefully at credit card policies. We’re looking at cellphone policies, travel, petty cash handling, and really doing a comprehensive review.”
Haruyama also briefed the council about new software being installed that she hopes will be done by the end of the fiscal year in June.
“It provides a lot of user-friendly, easy ways to access our city’s financial information where you can drill down by fund, by department. You query on very specific expenses,” she said. “It’s a very simplified tool for someone to get real information quickly.”
Haruyama said the city’s finances could be made available to the public on the city’s website after the installation.
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.