Road closure

Traffic flows along Corral Hollow Road just north of the Interstate 580 ramps in 2018 before a planned three month long closure to allow workers to install water and sewer lines for the Tracy Hills development.

The widening of Corral Hollow Road that was intended to coincide with the development of TracyHills will be delayed following Tracy City Council approval on Tuesday of an amendment to the city’s development agreement with the TracyHills developers.

On a 4-1 vote, with Councilwoman Veronica Vargas dissenting, the council agreed to revise the 2016 development agreement with Tracy Hills Project Owner, LLC, and Tracy Hills Phase 1, LLC. The amendment changes when certain development milestones would trigger widening of a 1-mile stretch of Corral Hollow Road between Linne Road and the California Aqueduct.

The existing agreement has the developer providing $5.5 million for a TracyHills fire station, which is now under construction, plus $2 million toward upgrades of the city’s wastewater treatment plan and another $5 million community benefit fee for the city to use at its discretion. It also requires the developer to widen Corral Hollow Road from two lanes to four lanes once TracyHills takes out its 1,800th building permit for new homes.

Now the developer is offering another $1.4 million for the fire station and will commit to widening Corral Hollow Road as it passes through the development in 2021, including intersection improvements where Corral Hollow Road meets Interstate 580, and will commit $1.6 million of the developer’s traffic impact fees toward intersection improvements at Corral Hollow and Linne roads.

In return, the city will allow the developer to defer the widening of Corral Hollow Road between Linne Road and the TracyHills development until after TracyHills takes out its 2,600th building permit.

Most of the 1½-hour discussion involved the details of a traffic study, and whether cars would be able to travel south on Corral Hollow Road toward Interstate 580 without substantial delays. Most of the council agreed that the traffic improvements the developer offered would be sufficient to keep cars moving through the area. TracyHills co-project manager Mike Souza assured the council that all of the roadway upgrades the city wants will be built.

“We’re still paying for the widening of Corral Hollow Road from the California Aqueduct to Linne Road. We’re just doing it a couple years later, so we’re not getting out of anything,” Souza said, adding that the difference would be about 3 years. Meanwhile the developer would pay for other intersection improvements on Corral Hollow Road at Interstate 580 and at Linne Road.

“It’s imperative to us that it’s tied to the number of units, not to time. We’re not asking to not do that. We’re just asking to do it a little bit later. So it’s a misnomer to say we’re not paying the same amount for traffic improvements that we were paying before.”

While most of the council seemed agreeable with the plan, Vargas opposed the amendment because it lacked detail on when Corral Hollow Road would be widened, something that she hears citizens complaining about now.

“It could be 3 years, it could be 5 years, it could take 10 years,” Vargas said. “We’re asking our community to endure this pain of the current traffic difficulties for however long until the development reaches 2,600 units, which we do not know. We don’t have a certain time when that is going to happen.”

“I don’t see the city’s interests being protected, and I’m actually a little disappointed that staff is bringing a half-baked DA (development agreement) to the council,” Vargas added. “They should have the city’s interests vetted out and this should be a win-win situation. I don’t believe that this is it.”

Mayor Robert Rickman said that the improvements TracyHills has committed to for next year, including the improvements at Corral Hollow and Linne roads, are sufficient benefit to support the change.

While the rest of the council had met in council chambers at TracyCity Hall, Vargas had called in from a remote location to voice her opinion, and she continued to express her opposition as other council members called for a vote. Finally, Mayor Robert Rickman ordered that her microphone be muted while the council voted on the amendment.

It was one of a series of votes on TracyHills on Tuesday. Right afterward the council agreed on a 4-1 vote, this time with Rickman dissenting, on changes to the Tracy Hills Specific Plan.

The change applies to 310 acres in Phase 1B/1C, at the northwest end of the 2,732-acre development, where land originally designated for business development will now be zoned for new homes instead.

The original plan called for 202 acres of that land to be slated for commercial development, mostly in a mixed-use business park, with another 27 acres of light industrial development. Another 71 acres would be for medium-density residential development, and 10 acres would be for high-density residential development.

The revised plan converts nearly all of that commercial land to residential development. Now there will be 151 acres of low-density residential and 135 acres of medium-density residential. There would still be 10 acres of high-density residential and 14 acres would be left for commercial development, to be located on an extension of Lammers Road between the California Aqueduct and Interstate 580.

TracyHills project manager John Palmer told the council that business development proposed in TracyHills dates back to the city’s 1993 General Plan and 1998 Tracy Hills Specific Plan. Since then other new planning areas have brought business development to town and have reduced the need for TracyHills to have a large commercial component.

“Although we did update the specific plan in 2016 and have gone through multiple amendments over the course of the last few years, we really have been analyzing what is the proper land use mix that we want to implement for this Phase 1B/1C area,” Palmer told the council. “You have other areas that are positioned better, that have better access for those types of non-residential uses.”

Rickman disagreed, and said that much of that new commercial development, including retail stores and restaurants, is at the north end of town along Interstate 205, while the southern end of town, including TracyHills, has seen mostly residential development with few retail developments.

“My concern is, will we be hamstringing ourselves? For me it’s not what’s going to happen here in 5 or 10 years, but 20, 30, 40 years down the road, and how will that affect this city? Will everything be on the north side of town with the south side of Tracy being left out?” Rickman said.

 • Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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