A local issue has brought in more than half a million dollars in political donations, not for a candidate but for competing visions of residential growth in Tracy.
Proponents of Measure M, once called the Attainable Workforce and Senior Housing Attainment Initiative, say the initiative is about creating areas around Tracy where homes would be affordable for middle-class residents and seniors. The measure proposes to exempt about 2,000 acres of land around Tracy from residential growth management ordinances, provided that the homes built there include deed-restricted senior housing or stand on no more than 4,000 square feet of property. Local farmer Mike Sandhu helped write the measure and has supported it to community groups and service organizations.
“What’s missing is the middle-class house,” Sandhu told the Tracy Golden Agers on Sept. 11, “maybe 1,000-, 1,500-, 1,700-square-foot houses, and what we are trying to do is just protect the land for building the middle-class houses.”
The initiative also provides that before homes went up for sale, Tracy residents would get the first right to buy them. If there were more residents who wanted a home than available houses, a lottery would determine who would get to buy.
Opponents of Measure M say they support housing for middle-income people but that the way Measure M proposes to get around slow-growth restrictions would harm Tracy. The opposition was first organized by rural Tracy residents who live along Von Sosten Road to the west.
“I understand that developers want to develop their land, but Tracy, for as long as I’ve lived here — 25 years — has always been about planned, consistent growth. Not rapid, uncontrolled growth,” Jack Lemons, a spokesman for the opponents, said during a Measure M protest Sept. 26. “We have enough traffic. We have enough burden on schools, infrastructure, utilities, etc. already in the city of Tracy to have that kind of unfettered growth.”
According to campaign documents, the Yes on M campaign has raised more than $527,000 and the Preserve Tracy-No on Measure M campaign has raised about $4,800.
City Attorney Thomas Watson, in his impartial analysis of Measure M, wrote that the growth management ordinances already have five exemptions. He also said that the lottery provision of the initiative “may be challenged as violating state and/or federal housing and Constitutional requirements” and that it was unclear whether such a challenge would be upheld in court.
According to the analysis: “A ‘yes’ vote on Measure M would adopt the proposed ordinance and create an exemption to the GMO and establish a lottery. A ‘no’ vote would reject Measure M.”
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