Criticism of various aspects of life in Patterson and the West Side has reached a new level — some would say low — with the filing of two petitions to change the way the city works.
That two of the people who support West Park — developer Gerry Kamilos’ reuse project for the former Crows Landing airfield — are behind these petitions makes many of us wonder what is really going on. We naturally suspect a tie-in.
We have to wonder at the attitude of the two known petition proponents, Donna Worley and Sherry King, relatively new residents of Patterson. They have a lot of generalized complaints about local problems, but some of them don’t hold up to what’s happening.
They comment that the homes in foreclosure are a result of failed Patterson government, and yet the problem is national and involves interest rates and troublesome mortgages that have caused payments to skyrocket and forced people from homes because they can’t make payments. There are local home-related costs, such as Mello-Roos fees, but all homebuyers are notified that they have to pay these fees just like regular taxes.
At the recent Stanislaus Council of Governments meeting, where the StanCOG policy board supported the Kamilos project by a vote of 10-4, Ms. Worley spoke in favor of West Park and questioned the value of older residents being involved in various community activities. I’m pretty sure she was including members of WS-PACE as being run by “older” people. I’m not sure whether she really meant older residents or longtime residents or whether she meant something else. She says she is 61, so she probably isn’t complaining about senior citizens, as she is almost eligible for Social Security.
My guess is that she’s really complaining about people who’ve lived here a long time and have been involved in local government, as opposed to her own cohorts.
Either way, if she is complaining about older people, or older residents, or people who’ve been involved in local issues for a long time, I believe she’s way off base. But then, her short residency has clearly not given her enough time to know what she is saying.
Take one example: the petition to restrict the terms of our elected City Council. It is possible that the petition, as written, might not affect any of the current council members, because their current terms started before the initiative would be passed. I believe state law will decide this.
Mayor Becky Campo could still run for two terms of two years after her term ends in 2008 under the petition. If the petition passes, council members Annette Smith and Dominic Farinha can run again after their appointed years are up and still serve two full additional four-year terms for a total of eight years beyond their appointed terms. The initiative, if passed, might not effect the near term as much as electing different council members would.
Worley complains that the council doesn’t listen to her. However, she left a recent council meeting before members explained their stances on West Park, so she can’t know whether they did or did not listen to her regarding the West Park issue.
As for the petition to control growth, a lot of us would like that, but her figure doesn’t seem realistic. And again, it will have little effect for years to come, because of the national housing sales slowdown. Also, the already-approved developments, such as the Villages of Patterson, with more than 3,000 housing units slated to go on the east side of town — will not be affected, because it’s impossible to stop building permits for “entitled” tracts of homes. If this 200-home limit is applied, it can only be in effect on housing developments that come along after the initiative passes. Actually, a lot of new residents will probably oppose this limit when they learn that it will cause a major setback for Patterson.
Our future growth will be much slower anyway, because credit will be harder to get from banks and mortgage companies. When employers look to move their businesses to Patterson, they also will look at the availability of housing. Having an imposed growth limit will reduce our ability to expand the area. Too many new residents don’t understand that the City Council has little or no control over which businesses come to Patterson. Each national business, such as Target, has its own criteria as to when a town is big enough to support a store.
Why do Worley and her cohorts oppose more housing in Patterson but feel it is OK in the county area outside cities? That was the gist of her comment on the Carmen Sabatino Morning Mayor radio show Wednesday.
My next column will comment on participation in local issues, especially by new residents.
Claude Delphia is a local activist, historian, member of the General Plan Advisory Committee and vice president of WS-PACE.