Year in Review — January

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Three dead in fiery crashthen four

Four young men died after a speeding Dodge Charger carrying six people crashed into trees and a fire hydrant and caught fire Dec. 29 on Grant Line Road east of MacArthur Drive.

The driver, Alan Garcia, 21, was one of three who died that night, along with Christian Cruz, 22, and Arturo Ramirez Valencia, 21. The fourth victim, Cavrin Fiaigoa, 19, died nine days later from burns and other injuries.

Two other passengers, including a 15-year-old boy, were not as seriously hurt and were not identified by investigators.

Commute alternative hard to come by

Tracy has the longest average commute time of any city in the nation — eight hours every workweek — according to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Despite the grueling commute to jobs in the Tri-Valley and Bay Area, the city of Tracy had few options at the beginning of 2019 for people who’d rather telecommute from a coworking space.

Soon after that, Lynda and Eric Hawkins established WorkVine209, a 24-hour coworking space and virtual office, in Northgate Village, 1005 E. Pescadero Ave., Ste. 167.

Last call: City seeks to tear down Great Plate

Building to be demolished

The city is seeking permission from a San Joaquin County judge to level the building that housed The Great Plate at 714 N. Central Ave.

Time seemed to have run out for the 10,000-square-foot building that once housed the Great Plate on north Central Avenue.

Since it was declared unsafe to occupy in March 2016, the nearly 100-year-old building has sat empty while the city gave the owners, BBS Adventures LLC of Vallejo, a last chance to bring the building up to code.

In December 2018, the city attorney’s office sought permission from the San Joaquin County Superior Court to “abate the nuisance,” and that permission was granted.

As of January, the city expected to begin demolition in mid-April. But in September, according to a city spokesperson, evidence was being collected for an ongoing case, with hearings scheduled for late November.

For now, the building still stands.

Government shutdown leaves families on edge

Air traffic controller Tyson Shakespeare and other federal employees living in Tracy felt the effects of a partial shutdown of the U.S. government in the form of missing paychecks.

A local landowner, Mike Sandhu, of Sandhu Bros. Farms, offered to pay the rent or mortgage the rent or mortgage of furloughed Tracy residents while the shutdown continued.

Later in the month, the city offered to help federal workers with their water and trash bills by deferring payments and waiving late fees.

The 35-day shutdown, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, was the longest in U.S. history. It began because Democrats in Congress refused to include money for a border wall in the federal budget and President Donald Trump refused to sign a budget without it.

Tracy to seek $25M for Valley Link rail line

The Tracy City Council agreed to pursue for a federal grant to support Valley Link, a light rail connection to BART, although other San Joaquin County cities hadn’t made it a top priority.

The council voted unanimously to lobby for a $25 million BUILD Grant from the U.S Department of Transportation during a trip to Washington in May.

At the time, cost estimates for the light rail system topped $1.2 billion.

Water lawsuit filed by Tracy’s main supplier

The Manteca-based South San Joaquin Irrigation District, which provides as much as 70% of the city of Tracy’s potable water, was among a group of water agencies that filed lawsuits against the State Water Resources Control Board.

The suits, filed Jan. 10, challenged a decision by the state water board to approve a Bay-Delta water quality control plan that would provide more water for wildlife, mostly salmon, and less for agricultural and municipal uses.

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