Central School opens

Project manager Anthony Continente directs cars to Central School's new dropoff area on opening day.

The Tracy City Council is making an effort to resolve morning and afternoon gridlock in front of two schools.

At its Dec. 17 meeting, the council approved new “no left turn” signs for Eaton Avenue between Parker Avenue and Holly Drive in front of Central and St. Bernard’s schools.

When Tracy Unified School District completed the new layout for Central School, it also changed the pickup-dropoff point for parents from Parker Avenue to Eaton Avenue. The result was traffic jams as parents approached the school from both the eastbound and westbound directions and stopped in the middle of the street to wait for traffic to clear in the pickup-dropoff lanes in front of Central School.

The city’s public works staff reported that parents picking up children at Central School in particular tended to line up along Eaton Avenue about a half-hour before afternoon pickup, causing a backup that extended for the entire block in both directions, effectively blocking the street until all the parents had picked up their children.

The city noted that it had become a safety hazard as the gridlock made the street inaccessible to emergency vehicles.

The new rule will make it so that, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and again from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., parents can approach the Central School driveway only from the eastbound lane. They will be required make a right turn into the school driveway and another right turn, heading toward Holly Drive, when exiting the driveway.

Other council business

Also Dec. 17, the Tracy City Council took the following actions:

• Extended an agreement with James McDermott Post No. 172, American Legion, to allow the city to use 51 parking spaces next to the American Legion building at 1960 N. Tracy Blvd. The city will spend $30,000 to repair, slurry-seal and stripe the parking lot. The parking lot is adjacent to Ritter Family Ball Park, which the city rents out to groups who use the park for baseball, softball and soccer games and practice, and also for youth football practice.

• Temporarily extended an agreement with Leprino Foods to pretreat the wastewater from the cheese-making plant on the northwestern corner of Grant Line Road and MacArthur Drive.

The agreement allows Leprino to lease city-owned aerated ponds to pretreat water from the cheese-making process before it enters the regular wastewater treatment process. The city utilities staff noted in its report to the council that pretreatment “greatly reduces wastewater strength.”

The agreement dates back to 1977 and the latest 20-year agreement was due to expire at the end of June 2018. This is the third extension of that agreement, with the expectation that a new long-term agreement can be reached by the end of March 2020.

• Agreed to annex a portion of the Ellis development into a community facilities district. Surland Communities LLC, owner of the property, already agreed to the annexation, which allows the city to spend up to $25 million on public infrastructure, such as streets, storm drains and sewer lines, and pay off bonds on that debt by charging a Mello-Roos tax on future property owners. It will translate to a yearly tax of $3,013 for 307 homes at the western end of the development.

• Adopted an ordinance that requires the city to allow at least 60 days for an unpaid water bill to be delinquent before the city can proceed to shut off water service. The city must also give seven days’ notice before actually shutting off water service and then provide information on how to restore service. The ordinance was required to comply with a new state law.

• Approved a final subdivision map that allows 71 homes to be built on 10 acres on the south side of Byron Road near Berg Road.

• Agreed to extend a temporary contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to draw up to 20,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Delta-Mendota Canal. The city had a long-term contract with the bureau for 10,000 acre-feet a year dating back to 1974 and has since added water from contracts with local irrigation districts, which also drew from the canal. The temporary contract will give the city and the bureau two more years to negotiate another long-term contract for the full 20,000 acre-feet.

• Agreed to a policy that will have the next highest vote-getter in a City Council election fill a vacant seat on the council, if that seat becomes vacant within the first year after the election. If a seat becomes vacant after the first year, the council will take applications and interview applicants to select a new member. The new policy was prompted by a 2019 San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury report.

• Approved a new policy that allows breweries, wineries and distilleries within the I-205 Specific Plan. In specific, the new policy would allow a craft brewery to open in the Northgate Village shopping center. Senior planner Scott Claar noted that because the center is a designed for retail uses, a craft brewery should dedicate at least 30% of its space to a taproom, tasting room or restaurant.

Bay Boys Brewing, which is looking at a 9,000 square-foot space in the center, proposes to dedicate about 4,000 square feet, 44%, to its taproom, including space for games such as pool and cornhole. The project would require further planning commission review if the business wanted to have entertainment later than 11 p.m.

• Amended zoning laws for the city’s Central Business District to allow for single-family homes as part of high-density housing development. That will allow a builder to develop three lots on Eighth Street just east of Central Avenue with two houses and a triplex, a total of five units.

Contact the Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 835-3030.

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