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Territorial Dispatch

Packed Meeting Brings Up Traffic, Overdevelopment Concerns

Apr 03, 2024 11:12AM ● By Angela Underwood, photos by Angela Underwood
Caroline Pearson speaks at the podium during the March 19 Yuba City City Council meeting.


YUBA CITY, CA (MPG) - Nearly a dozen citizens upset over traffic congestion and new development waited to speak at the March 19 Yuba City City Council meeting during the Terra Buena Community Workshop portion.

Christine Kelly Yuba City City Council

 Christine Kelly speaks at the podium during the March 19 Yuba City City Council meeting.


Public Works and Development Services director Ben Moody's presentation on traffic circulation, congestion and development that was meant to give clarity did not calm residents; instead, it seemed to upset them more.

After showing maps of new construction at Faith Court, Dunn Ranch, Henson Ranch and Harter Marketplace, Moody also pointed out developer D.R. Horton properties in Harter North and South. Together, all the new construction will total 42 acres.

David Barone Yuba City City Council

 David Barone speaks at the podium during the March 19 Yuba City City Council meeting.


Moody presented four traffic-relief options based on a survey to address traffic congestion, specifically at George Washington and State Route 20, which he calls "odd intersections" with little depth for turn lanes. Moody detailed the pros, including additional traffic connectivity, and the cons, such as increased traffic speeds, which is of particular concern to resident Christie Pearson.

"It infuriates me that Jefferson is going to be a through street all the way to Walmart," Pearson said. "My parents lived on Walton, and that is just a drag strip now, and that is exactly what is going to happen to Jefferson."

Pearson also shared concerns about overdevelopment, specifically with proposed apartment complexes in Yuba City, which she said will attract renters who have not invested in Yuba City as homeowners.

"I also want to know if those people buying brand new homes for over $600,000 are being told that there are possibly going to be apartments staring in their backyards," Pearson said.

Pearson seemed most upset over the lack of communication between the city and the public, especially after Moody said letters of notice were sent to residents and property owners and hand delivered.

"I was not made aware of any of this; I did not receive any door knocking or letters in the mail," Pearson said.

Councilmember Mark Boomgarden apologized for the lack of communication, saying it was "certainly not our intent to move without citizen input." And Mayor Shon Harris said that officials did not "do a good job of getting the word out but did the best job they knew how in their attempts to get the paperwork out."

Although sympathetic to resident concerns, Vice-Mayor Dave Shaw said all the issues discussed are citywide, not just in specific areas.

Randy Underwood Yuba City City Council

Randy Underwood speaks at the podium during the March 19 Yuba City City Council meeting.


"We talk about all the development issues, traffic calming and everything else, and we easily talk about every road in Yuba City," Shaw said. "Every one of us faces the same issues, no matter where you live."

Business owner Murray Lewis agreed that the proposed apartment complex adjacent to Henson Ranch was not a good decision, noting that it would add more traffic. Speaking from what he calls "self-preservation," the Dow Lewis Motors owner told officials that his livelihood could be diminished if officials decided to change the George Washington intersection’s configuration.

"I would have to close my doors because you would take my business out," Lewis said.

When it comes to construction, resident Randy Underwood, a general contractor for nearly four decades, said it seems that the city is "playing catch-up" with traffic congestion.

The way it looks now is officials are "going to be putting an excess of 700 cars every morning and every night that has to go out to major intersections that have to get on Highway 20," said Underwood, adding, "there is no way our roads can handle that much traffic; that's common sense."

Compounded traffic will make matters worse, said Julie Renter-Harrison, who lives on Jefferson Avenue, where her home does not fall within community guidelines.  

"In addition to the possible 700 cars that might be going through our front yard and blocking our driveways as a result of this option four preference, we are also still not a part of Yuba City; we are in the county," Renter-Harrison said. "We are not provided with water or septic, so this proposal actually asks us to bear the majority of the traffic from all of this city development."

The frustrated resident concluded, "If this is the condition of all of Yuba City, we have a pretty big planning problem not addressed in my lifetime or yours."

However, it has, according to Mayor Harris, saying traffic and development continues as usual. The mayor also said the public should remain focused on new options rather than "war stories."

Paul DeMeritt Yuba City City Council

 Paul DeMeritt speaks at the podium during the March 19 Yuba City City Council meeting.


"There has to be a give and take; that is just the nature of the beast; there is no magic silver bullet solution," Harris said, adding he is open to additional community workshops and input.

However, citizen Carol McCauley questioned the community survey used for the four options, noting that the approximately 60 interviewed left to determine the future could be a better cross-section of the community.

While Shaw said he favors option four, which connects from Jefferson Park across the canal to Jefferson and Ruth Avenue, resident David Barone is not.

"Number four is a band-aid and a cheap way to go," said resident Dave Barone, adding, "It is going to impact our neighborhood." 

Resident Christine Kelly kept her comments short, wasting no time letting officials know they "were destroying her neighborhood."

Resident Robin Fleshman, who commutes daily to Sacramento, said she is upset with longer traffic delays and the condition of the roads, noting, "It's terrible what it does to your cars."

Fleshman also has concerns about overdevelopment leading to increased crime.

Paul DeMeritt said much of the fears at the workshop arose because of a lack of communication, forethought and planning, which he calls the "Yuba City Syndrome."

"Develop whatever we can get, and we will fix the infrastructure and the impact down the road." DeMeritt said. "That is the perception I have heard so many times and I wish it were untrue."

DeMeritt said he has not received a notification since August 2023 on proposed zoning and development, specifically the proposed Henson Ranch apartment complex discussed.

"Like so many here have shared tonight, we are concerned about all the infrastructure that has to happen," DeMeritt said. "I agree with so many who say stop and say let's discuss and take a look at it."

Councilmember Boomgarden and Vice-Mayor Shaw ended the meeting’s long portion, suggesting putting money aside now for whatever option or plan is picked.

"We need to start dealing with this," Boomgarden said.

 



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