Year in Review — November

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Council surprised by new water park price tag

For many Tracy residents, a long-promised aquatic park seems as far off as ever.

Plans presented to the City Council on Nov. 5 by The Surland Cos. were divided into three phases. Only the smallest, with waterslides but no pool for competition or adult recreation, would fit the council’s budget of $54 million. The largest, with all the features the city wants, had a price tag of $130 million.

According to the developer agreement for the Ellis project, Surland will give the city 16 acres and $10 million for the swim center. The city will pay the rest, including ongoing operational costs.

After extensive public comment and discussion, Parks and Recreation Director Brian MacDonald affirmed the top priorities: a 50-meter competition pool and a recreational pool, followed by a lazy river and water slides.

MacDonald confirmed before Christmas that Surland was working with the city staff on an updated proposal to present to the council in early 2020.

Tracy couple open door to shooter; Sacramento man arrested

A man knocked on the front door of a home on Brannon Drive on Nov. 5 and shot the husband and wife who answered the door with a .22-caliber pistol.

They were wounded in the arm and in the hand.

Investigators arrested Gregory Castles, 38, at his home in Sacramento, where they found evidence linking him to the shooting, including a handgun. They do not know what motivated the attack but described Castles as an acquaintance of one of the victims.

Castles remains in the county jail and has no court hearings scheduled.

Police hunt for killer after death in park

Tracy Police Department launched the fourth homicide investigation of 2019 after Steven Weber, 58, of Tracy, died in Dr. Powers Park just after 8 p.m. Nov. 13.

The person who called 911 found Weber on the grass near the bathrooms, where he was soon pronounced dead. He had been fatally cut or stabbed.

Officers surrounded the park and searched it, talking to potential witnesses. They cordoned off a picnic area and a lean-to shelter next to a tree with crime scene tape and set up several evidence markers near the picnic benches.

No one has been arrested or named as a suspect in Weber’s death. In December, Tracy Crime Stoppers announced a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Delay in law to protect tenants translate to sudden rent increase

Renters’ dilemma

Hannah Kemp (right) talks to downstairs neighbors Connie and Michael Hays about the recent 60-day notices that most likely mean they will have to find new homes by Christmas.

Several residents of an apartment building on Seventh Street in downtown Tracy were hit hard by a side effect of a statewide rent control law that takes effect in January.

Their landlord, who lives in Redwood City, gave them 60-notices to move out Oct. 27, unless they were willing to agree to rent hikes in the neighborhood of 55%. He cited provisions in the new law that would cap annual rent increases and forbid no-fault evictions.

One of the Seventh Street residents, Hannah Kemp, called on the City Council to protect her and her neighbors from eviction at the Dec. 3 regular meeting. The council talked about the impact on renters as well as the impact on property owners.

After several motions failed on split votes, the council did eventually pass an urgency ordinance that moved up the effective date of the rent control law to Dec. 4. It was not retroactive to a date before the eviction notices, however.

New plans emerge for Tracy Gateway

The vision for 535 acres of open land south of 11th Street at the west end of town, once designated as a massive business park, is in transition.

A second Sutter Tracy Community Hospital campus off Lammers Road is the centerpiece of the latest Westside Specific Plan, along with a possible private or public university campus at the opposite edge of the project area.

Mixed-use commercial development is proposed along 11th Street east of the Interstate 205 on- and off-ramps. The rest would be developed into homes for seniors, assisted living and medium-density housing.

Before any work can begin, a new environmental impact report needs to be prepared because of substantial changes to the landowners’ development plans. The public comment period ended Dec. 9.

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