Gangs, growth, gridlock concern YC hopefuls
Traffic, levees and crime are among the problems facing Yuba City, according to City Council candidates who spoke Thursday at the Yuba-Sutter Builders and Developers luncheon.
Some criticized the city's anticipated increase in impact fees levied on new homes. A sharply higher figure of $70,000 per home has been circulating around the community, and the city recently approved an interim $60,000 figure for new subdivisions.
The fees pay for parks, levees, roads and other growth-related needs. But some question whether developers and new homeowners will be hit with a bill that should be shared more equally.
Kash Gill, a banker, said he would use his 18 years of banking experience to keep tabs on the city's budget. Millions of dollars have been directed to Plumas Street, Gauche Park and other projects.
“It's wonderful that we have that money today,” said Gill. “But tomorrow, we've got to account for it, come back to yourselves, and say we didn't overspend.”
Gill said three of the four key issues the city faces are public safety concerns - levees, gang activity and traffic gridlock. The fourth is growth. And the city's higher impact fee of $80,000 doesn't pencil for builders, he said.
“We've got to come up with a fair amount, that's fair to the city, fair for the builders, to get growth back on track,” said Gill, who noted statements by builders that they have few or no new homes under way. “If you've got planned growth growing, it'll help pay for your infrastructure needs.”
Tej Maan, Yuba County's Environmental Health director, said he's been “bothered and disturbed” with what's gone on in Yuba City the last couple of years. He said land development has ground to a halt.
“The administration's been leading the way, and City Council's been rubber stamps,” said Maan. “One thing I can promise you is I will not be a rubber stamp. I will be a leader.”
Maan said the city has some serious issues, including levees, traffic, jobs, gang violence and development fees, which don't make sense when homes sell for only $300,000.
And if the Federal Emergency Management Agency maps Yuba City into the flood plain, the city will be dying rather than growing, said Maan.
Leslie McBride, a Realtor, listed her background of extensive experience in building and development, and also noted her government affairs work for the Sutter-Yuba Association of Realtors. She said she went around the country advocating for property rights.
“Our community's growing and we need to move along with it, and you guys are an integral part of that,” said McBride.
McBride said she went to a City Council study session on the police station expansion and heard the estimates that impact fees from 1,400 homes per year would be needed to pay for the station.
“I don't see that we're going to have 1,400 homes per year being built under the current structure,” said McBride.
Caltrans planner Jeffrey Spencer said he would use his experience in real estate and planning toward leading the city. He previously served as chairman of the planning council for the city of Antelope. When that city grew quickly to a population of 40,000, civic leaders faced growth pressures, traffic, transportation problems and infrastructure deficiencies.
“They've encountered a lot of the same problems that we see here,” said Spencer.
He also said he has environmental experience, helping to restore Dry Creek. Salmon and steelhead now run in it, and it serves as a bicycle corridor.
“In my education, my experience, I bring those to bear here, and move the city forward,” said Spencer.
Craig Starkey, an insurance agent, said his agency offered him financial experience. His appointment to the Yuba City Planning Commissioner allowed him to attend League of California Cities seminars on land use issues. He said he also can work well with people, make decisions and achieve goals.
“I'm not looking to make popular decisions to get re-elected in four years,” said Starkey. “My perspective is to look what's best for the city in the next 30, 40, 50 years...”
Starkey said a coalition needs to be formed from different groups to deal with levee problems, which is a “huge” issue along with traffic. People should be educated to support 1E and a sales tax issue.
He said the city could redo some of the parking on streets to improve traffic flow. Starkey also noted Yuba City's heavy reliance on outsourced staffing.
Appeal-Democrat reporter John Dickey can be reached at 749-4711. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.