NEW: Here’s more info, including an interactive map.
NEW: Here’s more info, including an interactive map.
Mayor Anthony Silva held a prayer rally this week during which he said he was presenting “the Key to the City to God.” Silva also has scheduled a town-hall meeting at a church Nov. 30, and has held past events at churches, too.
Local atheists and the American Humanist Association (slogan is “Good without a god”) are calling Silva on it, saying his frequent religious invocations violate the separation of church and state. The group sent a letter of complaint this week to City Manager John Luebberke. The letter was copied to the mayor and City Council, as well as to California Attorney General Kamala Harris. You can read it here.
I met last week with City Manager Kurt Wilson and Community Development Director David Kwong to discuss the Public Facilities Fees issue, which will be aired at tonight’s City Council. The interview helped greatly with writing today’s story, but not much of it actually was quoted. Below are notes I took at the meeting:
WILSON on the builders’ proposal: “It’s based on the idea that nothing is happening in Stockton. Single-family homes are only a part of the activity that takes place. There has been a 103 percent increase in the valuation of what we are processing today compared to five years ago. It’s not accurate to say that nothing is going on.”
WILSON on a study by UOP on the economic impact of building 1,000 homes, which BIA has cited in pushing its proposal: “The study is very good but some of the ways it’s being used may not be accurate.” … Wilson said the study itself was well-done. “I think (UOP’s Jeff Michael) did a very honest job of putting things together.” But Wilson said BIA has appropriated it to push its own cause.
MORE FROM WILSON ON MICHAEL’S STUDY: “He also didn’t make any connection between the lowering of building fees and getting to that magic number of 1,000 homes. He did not offer any link between those fees and the homes being built. The implication is that if you lower the fees more homes will be built. That’s the same basis upon which the Council has reduced building fees for the last several years. If you look at the downtown area, those fees we legitimately have control over have been reduced to zero yet that has not spurred major downtown development. That would seem to indicate the fees are only one of many factors of when and where builders choose to build.”
WILSON said fees a vital to expensive projects, specifically citing libraries and police stations: “If we don’t collect those fees what does that do to individual projects from (an environmental regulation) standpoint and are we still going to do that project? Is that something that’s going to delay (a project) or (a project we) say we are no longer going to do?”
Wilson has said in the past that cutting some fees could impact Stockton’s general fund. Builders advocate John Beckman has called that a “scare tactic.” WILSON said: “I hear that a lot now anytime I hear from whomever is lobbying the council at any given time.” WILSON said before the city exited bankruptcy he would hear that the council was too loose with money. WILSON said, “Now that we are a few months out of bankruptcy, the rhetoric has changed but my mandate has not.”
On arguments that south Stockton has ready infrastructure and therefore much lower fees are feasible there, WILSON said, “That’s not an unreasonable discussion point. I can’t say unequivocally the infrastructure is there. In some cases it’s very old and needs to be replaced at the same cost as something new but there are clearly instances where the impact can be looked at differently.”
WILSON on possibly reducing some fees before a planned amending of the city’s general plan is completed, which could take at least two years: “It’s possible there are some carve out options to get there faster.”
WILSON on the Council’s role tonight: “It’s completely a council decision. I’m only concerned that any decision of this magnitude needs to be an informed decision. The Council now has been informed. It now has the right to move forward any way it chooses. My obligation is to make sure they are aware of the impacts of the decision they are about to make. it’s completely up to them whichever way they’d like to go because it’s a policy decision.”
On possible temporary fee reductions in targeted geographic area of Stockton, KWONG said, “Staff is working to try to identify some opportunity sites. If you see a site with streets already, lights already, drainage and sewer capacity, those could theoretically be carve-out areas.”
KWONG on how quickly a so-called “opportunity site” could be identified and determined to be ready to build on with lowered fees: “We could find an opportunity site four months from now and present it.” But KWONG said just because a site is identified, “It’s still going to be market forces determining whether it gets built or not.”
KWONG said the city had not yet done a full analysis of the recently submitted Moses Zapien proposal. KWONG said, “It’s still up to the Council to make a policy call.”
Kwong said that in addition to building fees, there are other factors that determine whether construction happens, including vacancy and resale rates, and regional and city demographics.
As reported today, the City Council tonight will consider two proposals to at least temporarily reduce some of the fees builders pay when embarking on construction projects in Stockton. In advance of the meeting, the city released a 14-page staff report as well as an array of other documents. Below are links to the documents:
Actual 2015 technology is coming Monday to Stockton construction permitting, and fees are going to drop.
Read more here.
The Tour Against Trafficking began Oct. 2 and ends Friday. Cyclists Thursday will be passing through Lodi and Stockton. Deputy District Attorney Elton Grau, who has one marathon to his credit, plans to run 14.5 miles today from 1055 South Lower Sacramento Road in Lodi to the corner of Miner Avenue and El Dorado Street in downtown Stockton.
The goal is to raise awareness about human trafficking. There’s also the opportunity to benefit the planned Family Justice Center in Stockton. If you are interested in making a donation to the Family Justice Center Foundation in Grau’s honor, click here.
As reported today, the City Council has a 5:30 p.m. study session on a proposal by Mayor Anthony Silva and builders advocates to reduce fees, arguing it will spur home building and create jobs.
Information from the BIA is here.
Eric Parfrey of the Sierra Club provides a taste of the opposition to come in this letter to Silva and the City Council.