I would like to make a rebuttal to some of the comments made the Gilroy city street engineer regarding the projects along Santa Teresa and Luchessa. He says the city doesn’t have control over the schedule for the projects being executed by developers. I ask, why not? The developers have to file a building permit with a completion date. I think that was a non-legitimate answer.
Also, the engineer said that under the Glen Loma Ranch area, there are more developers coming on board. This translates into more years of construction!
In addition, there is the effect of the rains on the Santa Teresa Boulevard projects. Well, the original completion date schedule was before the rains.
The city engineer says he wants to reach out to the contractors [to complete their projects] with greater urgency, which contradicts his earlier statement claiming the city has no control over these schedules.
And then there is mention of design delays. How many designs are for a circle? I think we’re getting a little smoke and mirror treatment here.
Red Phone is grateful for your comments, good caller, about these developments that affect the roads and communities of Gilroy. Had Red Phone dug deeper before, more of your concerns may have been answered. Red Phone contacted Gilroy transportation engineer Henry Servin for more detailed information, which he gladly provided.
Asked about the city’s control of the developer’s building schedules, Servin said, “A developer can be tasked to provide public improvements to mitigate traffic problems caused by its development impact. However, cities may not dictate the means and methods to accomplish this. While we can exert pressure by not approving the occupancy of their new buildings, we can’t force them to accelerate or meet a public schedule for a public improvement.
Many times, the schedule for public improvement projects is tied to the number of residential units built and ready for occupancy, and the free market often drives that. The developer can work on providing public improvements as it sells its units, to pay for the public improvements.”
Glen Loma Ranch
Red Phone asked about the long-term development on Glen Loma Ranch and how it would affect traffic. Servin said, “Many of our larger development projects are required to build our much-needed schools, parks, and roadway improvements as they build out their projects. The city would not be able to build this infrastructure on its own without developer contributions. As such, the developers deliver these public projects during the construction of the residential development. Each developer has several planned neighborhoods that will be built as market needs dictate, sometimes built in sequence, or in parallel. In the case of the Glen Loma Ranch Specific Plan, which was city-approved in 2005, the build-out will extend past 2021.
“In addition to the roadway construction required within the Glen Loma Ranch project, the developer is responsible for implementing a number of the city’s master planned traffic improvements. These improvements are required at specific milestones during the overall project development. The rate at which the project builds is dependent on the health of the economy. The Glen Loma Ranch community could take 5-10 years or more to complete. The required individual traffic improvement projects would be phased with the project build-out, and thus would occur intermittently over that same time period,” Servin said.
Rains and roundabouts
Asked about the effects of the recent rains on the roundabout project, Servin said, “When the construction of the roundabout started, it was preceded by a multi-year drought and the soil conditions at the site were favorable for a road construction project. The El Niño weather patterns affected the schedule by quickly saturating the soils in the construction area. The contractor could not sufficiently compact the saturated soil to support the new roadway.”
Servin added, “The developer worked on an environmentally sustainable solution (which replenishes the groundwater), that includes a subsurface drainage system design. The developer submitted the amended plans for the roundabout to the city and regulatory agencies. The city has approved the design and construction has resumed. There is a delay of six months to summer 2016. To achieve a quality outcome, the city required the project be done to our standards, as the long-term performance of our public streets is a priority. We will see substantial work by the end of May.”
Red Phone asked how the city monitored these road projects. Servin said, “The city has public works inspectors that review many areas of the developer’s work. While we can’t dictate means and methods, we do enforce that all city standards are met at each stage of work. At the onset of each project, the developer’s builder submits a construction schedule that may be subject to change. The city urges developers to complete their traffic mitigations in a straightforward manner but can’t force them to rush or make up for lost time. At any point in the project where delay may occur, the developer is asked to update their schedule and provide us reasoning for such delay. The city in turn publishes this information on its city website, and other communication outlets.”
So good caller, because of your concerns, Red Phone was able to find out some interesting facts about the symbiotic relationship between the city and the developers that choose to work in Gilroy for the benefit of its citizens.