Should Modesto’s General Fund be Used For Monopoly Money?
City of Modesto
CITY COUNCIL WORKSHOP
Chambers, Basement Level
Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th Street
Tuesday September 05, 2017, at 3:30 p.m.
City of Modesto
CITY COUNCIL WORKSHOP
Chambers, Basement Level
Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th Street
Tuesday September 05, 2017, at 3:30 p.m.
Everyone Needs to Attend This Meeting It May Be the Last Opportunity to Meaningfully Address the Planning Commission. Lets Get Salida OUT of Modesto’s General Plan. If You Don’t They Will Be In control of SALIDA in the Future
SUBJECT: GPA-10-001 – General Plan Amendment for Land Use and Circulation:
Public Workshop (City-initiated)
The current Modesto general plan was adopted in 1995.
There has been a long-standing need to update the land use and circulation elements to enable the general plan to serve as a better tool to guide future growth and development, and this General Plan amendment (GPA) project
is intended to meet that need. In conjunction with GPA project work, staff facilitated public workshops for the benefit of the community in general and the Planning Commission in particular.
The purposes of these workshops were to inform the Planning Commission about
the GPA project, educate the public and provide opportunities for comments and questions.
The preliminary public workshop series included three (3) workshops – March 18, April 15 and
June 3, 2013.
These workshops proved valuable in terms of the public comments, concerns
and questions raised. Staff recorded all the comments and discussion points from the three
workshops, which will be used as the proposed GPA documentation continues to be refined.
The purpose of this fourth workshop is for staff to provide additional detail, for the
Commissioners’ benefit, regarding proposed General Plan policy language and other specific
project information. The Chamber of Commerce has expressed an interest in presenting their
preferred land use plan as well.
Secondary purposes include providing additional opportunity for public input and for the
Commission to provide direction to staff regarding the proposed project, which will help confirm
the project description for purposes of environmental analyses.
A fifth workshop is scheduled for August 19, 2013, for the Planning Commission to provide
feedback and direction on the General Plan amendment. Following a Planning Commission
recommendation, staff will then seek formal confirmation by the City Council in September or October.
California cities and counties commonly review their general plans to evaluate the need for
updates every five to ten years. Although the Modesto general plan has been amended
several times since its adoption 18 years ago in 1995, the land use and circulation elements
remain largely unchanged since that time.
The focus of this GPA is on the land use and
circulation / transportation elements, and the broad project objectives are to:
• adjust land use designations to be more realistic and to reflect economic development
• align the circulation element with infrastructure planning instruments (e.g. Capital
Improvement Program, Regional Transportation Plan, Federal Transportation
Improvement Program, and Capital Facilities Fee program);
• achieve a more livable community through application of smart growth principles;
• establish priority areas for economic development;
• achieve a more coordinated, efficient process for linking general plan goals with
infrastructure investment policy; and,
• implement new state laws to improve air quality, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and
create a balanced transportation system (AB 32, SB 375, AB 1358).
Incentives for pursuing the GPA project include the need for implementation of state laws
referenced above, and the fact that federal grant funding for the project was awarded in late
These factors result in a need (state law) and opportunity (funding) to undertake and
complete the GPA. While the GPA is not a comprehensive general plan update, the fact that
both the land use and circulation / transportation elements will be amended means that
Modesto’s general plan can be significantly improved and modernized.
The scope of work for the GPA project includes: consideration of General Plan goals, policies
and objectives; establishing priorities related to economic development; establishing linkage
and consistency among the General Plan, Regional Transportation Plan, Capital Improvement
Program and other infrastructure funding plans and programs; and, addressing the complete
range of laws and issues described under Background, above. A significant amount of work has
been done, which has resulted in new draft / proposed General Plan goals and policies, and
related new draft / proposed changes to the General Plan land use and circulation diagrams.
The project is a complex undertaking, and a range of issues has been identified. These include
land use compatibility, transportation analysis, alternative transportation solutions,
infrastructure, and others that will be resolved through completion of project work.
The “work-in-progress” draft general plan land use and transportation chapters are attached for
Commissioners’ review, and they have been posted to the City’s website. Although staff is not
necessarily seeking specific feedback on the draft text amendments at this time, the proposed
land use and transportation diagrams must be confirmed in order to initiate the necessary
Master Environmental Impact Report (EIR) update. Therefore, as indicated under “Purpose,”
above, staff will be seeking confirmation and/or direction from the Commission regarding the
proposed GPA on August 19.
It is anticipated that the General Plan Amendment project will require a Supplemental EIR to
the Modesto Urban Area General Plan Master EIR. Funding for the Master EIR work has not yet
been identified, and it is anticipated that the City’s budget for FY13-14 may include that
funding. If so, the proposed General Plan and Master EIR should be released for formal public
review toward the end of calendar year 2014. At that time, staff will be seeking comments
regarding the complete draft General Plan and Master EIR proposed for adoption.
The following information will NOT be provided to the public at the meeting.
ATTACHMENTS (included with Commissioners’ packets only)
1. Work-in-Progress General Plan land use (Chapter III) and transportation (Chapter V)
elements / chapters
Open the following pdf and go to Chapter III the City sealed this online portion from the public.
By Emerson Drake
A change in Modesto’s TIN CUP Ordinance (Time Is Now To Clean Up Politics) is coming up before the Modesto City Council and we need YOUR help. In 2005 the Modesto Chamber of Commerce asked the council to eliminate the donation limits candidates can receive before they are forced to recuse themselves or step back from discussion and voting on a subject a contributor brought before the council. It other words the Chamber wanted to make it so they could give many thousands of dollars to council members and they could vote for whatever the donor wanted.
Imagine where we would be if that had passed.
Instead the council decided to raise the limits from $1,000 to $3,000 before the cutoff limit was reached. Since then we have divided the city up into six districts lowering the cost of running for office. Unfortunately this has brought forth excessive amounts of special interest money into the campaigns of some.
There is another argument being made by Councilman Lopez in which he suggests to be a good council member you must have the intestinal fortitude to ask for $3,000 or you won’t be worth your salt on the council. But that isn’t how he plays the game. For insistence, he asked the Modesto Fire Fighters Union for $2,962 just under the limit before he would have to recuse himself. He also asked the Modesto Police Officers Union, the MPOA, for $2,750 again just under the donation limit.
The argument is being made you need $6,000 to mail a flyer but in checking Lopez’s campaign reports ( called 460,s) the costs of running a mailer are around $3,000.
After checking the 460’s of the most recent council races I discovered very few donations were made OVER $1,000 in fact, with only a couple of small exceptions (over by a couple of hundred dollars) all of the candidate’s contributions were below the $1,000 threshold EXCEPT for those of special interests. The special interest money came from unions, developers, and Lobbyists.
When comparing the money spent on council races a few other things became apparent. When developer money (especially Salida area developers “surprise surprise”) piled in on a candidate like Dave Cogdill Jr., he spent it like it was on fire. Councilman Cogdill spent $37,747 to get elected, took in at least 15 donations of $1,000 and his opponent spent about $2,000. Talk about a case of ego and overkill.
As a comparison Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside’s spent $23,000 and took six donations of $1,000 or more (two from Burnside Auto Body) and the rest were basically $500 and under. Her opponent Jenny Kenoyer collected one contribution of $500 and the rest were smaller. She raised and spent $13,000 on her campaign showing it can be done.
What the Bee didn’t mention in their recent article is the Modesto Fire Fighter’s Union made two independent campaign expenditures to Councilman Lopez’s campaign. They spent $2,000 in telephone calls in July and they spent another $6,000 in the final weeks of the race for mailers supporting Lopez. Todd Aaronson, Lopez’s major opponent, took in only six donations of $1,000 or more.
In other words Councilman Lopez out spent Aaronson by over 2-1 NOT counting the eight thousand dollars spent by the Fire Fighters Union. If special interests are going to weigh in so heavily we need to know about it. That will be my next attempt to update the TIN CUP Ordinance.
So if you can take a moment, please email this to your friends to make them aware of OUR opportunity to take Modesto out of the hands of the special interest groups be they Union, Lobbyist, OR Developer. Here is the list of Council emails I welcome you to write to:
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
You can call them at (209)571-5169
Be an Engaged Citizen…!
A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
By Emerson Drake
Modesto’s Cat Killers now have reason to fear as the Modesto City Council will be voting on an update to the municipal Code. Section 5-4-405 will be added to Article 4 of Chapter 4 of Title 5 outlawing abandonment of animals including cats. Seems like a mouthful but it should give cat killers like Phillip Sumner and Jeff Reed second thoughts keeping from enticing pets into their yards, trapping , and then abandoning them to die a probable death of starvation.
The new ordinance will require the cats to be turned into animal services for potential recovery by their owners. Exceptions are made in the ordinance for recognized groups who capture then spay and neuter the animals. We brought this into the glare of the public eye after hearing the heartfelt pleas of owners of missing pets taken by these animal abusers. The original story can be found at:
Many thanks go out to Former Interim Police Chief Gene Ballentine and Captain Mike Harris. The on the Council to support an ordinace and to speak up in support was Councilman Joe Muratore followed by Mayor Garrad Marsh, Councilmen Dave Geer and John Gunderson and Dave Lopez. City Attorney Susanna Acala Wood was very supportive and helpful from the beginning.
While this ordinance can’t reverse past issues it will help going forward and I hope those grieving pet owners who first brought this to the publics attention back on October 23,2012 will be able to attend the meeting Tuesday night at 5:30.
The ordinance is under hearing in the Council Agenda Hearing Item #5 for Tuesday. The Ordinance reads as follows :
ORDINANCE NO. _______-C.S.
AN ORDINANCE ADDING SECTION 5-4.405 TO ARTICLE 4
OF CHAPTER 4 OF TITLE 5 OF THE MODESTO MUNICIPAL
CODE RELATING TO DISPOSITION OF STRAY ANIMALS
The Council of the City of Modesto does ordain as follows:
SECTION 1. AMENDMENT OF CODE. Section 5-4.405 is hereby added to
Article 4 of Chapter 4 of Title 5 of the Modesto Municipal Code to read as follows:
5-4.405. DISPOSITION OF STRAY ANIMALS.
(a) It shall be unlawful and a misdemeanor offense for any person who
contains any stray animal (including cats) found at large or on their
property to abandon the animal.
For the purposes of this section only the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Contains” shall mean traps, corners, confines or in some manner
restricts the animal’s freedom from continuing to roam.
(2) “Stray animal” means an animal that is running loose and at large
with no owner present, and/or an animal that is trespassing on
(3) “Abandons” means once the animal is contained, the person
transports the animal to a location other than where it was
originally contained and releases the animal to freely roam.
(b) Within twenty-four (24) hours after containing any such animal, the person
doing so shall do one of the following:
(1) Release the animal where it was originally contained or return the
animal to the owner, if the owner is known;
(2) Report to City of Modesto Animal Control officials the fact that
such animal is contained and include the location where the animal
is contained, a description of the animal and license number of
such animal, if any; or
(3) Transport the animal to the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency
facility and provide the date, time and location of when and where
the animal was located when surrendering the animal to facility
(c) Animal Control Officers shall pick up and dispose of such animal in the
same manner as though such animal had been found at large and
(d) This section shall not be interpreted to apply to a person or organization
registered with the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency as a caretaker for
feral cats when that person is caring for feral cats.
SECTION 2. EFFECTIVE DATE. This ordinance shall go into effect and be in
full force and operation from and after thirty (30) days after its final passage and adoption.
SECTION 3. PUBLICATION. At least two (2) days prior to its final adoption,
copies of this ordinance shall be posted in at least three (3) prominent and distinct locations in
the City; and a notice shall be published once in
The Modesto Bee, the official newspaper of the
City of Modesto, setting forth the title of this ordinance, the date of its introduction and the
places where this ordinance is posted.
By Emerson Drake
I try to bring a variety of concerns to the public’s attention and this topic has been brought to the attention of the Board of Supervisors (BoS) and the Modesto City Council.
Modesto resident Phillip Sumner says he has been capturing 18-20 cats each year for the last 10 years here in Modesto. Many, if not most of these were family pets. An argument can be made they shouldn’t be in his back yard but he baits them by placing multiple cans of cat food in his yard to attract them. He uses cages to capture them and then takes them miles away from his home and dumps them in city parks and business parks where, according to his own words “they’ll never find their way back here again”, meaning home. Maybe the worst part is he then brags to the families about his activities. He has even bragged to a family with a young autistic youth who “related” to his pet cat as a means of coping with the world, that he captured their pet and dumped it without remorse.
According to animal rights groups and local officials, most “pet cats” will starve when dumped in the wild unless adopted by people living around the parks.
The Board of Supervisors paid little, if any, attention to the women who have had their pets captured and dumped around the city and the county, even after they made a heart-felt plea for help. They have tried going to the District Attorney’s office but were told they were too busy to bother and also suggested the state animal cruelty and anti dumping ordinances weren’t applicable…basically they were told “go away and don’t bother us.” I was actually told by a member of the BoS that in the scheme of things this wasn’t important enough for them to focus on.
These women appeared in front of the Modesto City Council to tell them of their problem on October 23,2012. This link will allow you watch and listen to the multiple women who spoke that night. It occurs around 38 minutes to the meeting so once it loads you can fast forward to the time. http://www.modestogov.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=461&doctype=AGENDA Once the video starts you take your cursor just below the blue line and it turns into a finger. Click your mouse finger and the meeting advances.
Fortunately the City Council listened and cared. First the women were referred to Police Chief Gene Balentine who listened to their story a second time, took notes and promised to get back with them. One thing you can be sure about with Chief Balentine, if he says he’ll get back to you, he does. After checking everything out he contacted the women again and told them of the situation. The D.A.’s office continued to rebuff the women’s concerns. But the Chief came forward with an update when I spoke at the 11/13/12 Council meeting. If you take this link and go to 34 minutes 50 seconds in and you can listen to the complete discussion. http://www.modestogov.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=463&doctype=AGENDA
I had spoken with Chief Balentine before the start of the meeting but since it had been three weeks I thought the topic should be brought up again during a Council meeting. The Chief had spoken with the women several time and had laid the ground work for the next step. He and I had discussed this topic during the interim meeting where he brought me up to speed. We had vocal support from Councilmen Joe Muratore and Dave Geer along with City Attorney Susanna Acala Wood who said once we have an ordinance we could be assured her department would aggressively pursue the offender. City Manager Nyhoff spoke to help provide an update.
Councilman Muratore asked me to assist in the search for an existing ordinances. I did do many internet searches and came up with four I thought would work best out of the many I sorted through. I forwarded them to City Attorney Susanna Acala Wood for review. Since then I’ve received the following email which was circulated to those who were following this with interest.
I just wanted to give you guys an update on what we’ve been doing. Captain Mike Harris has been in contact with Annette Patton from the Animal Shelter, as well as representatives from the County and City. Additionally I spoke with the County CEO’s office today (Doris) and she/they are interested in moving forward together. What we are doing is researching other agencies with ordinances that would meet our needs. The suggestion from the County District Attorney’s Office was that we consider adopting local ordinances that would be more on-point with this issue, rather than using the 597 section. So, we are moving forward with that idea. Captain Harris has located some ordinances and I believe the County folks also have some samples. We plan to meet with the City and County legal staff to see if we can’t draft an ordinance that will meet the needs of the City and County, and can be adopted by each entity. I believe they are meeting next week to try to hammer something out.
Emerson, I know that you volunteered to assist in the project and also research some other city/county ordinances. I’ve included Captain Harris’ email in the “cc” line of this email so that you can communicate with him any ordinances you may have located that you feel is on point.
Just wanted to update you on what is happening. I’m hoping that once we get some good language in place the process can move fairly quickly.
Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving,
Interim Chief of Police
Modesto Police Department
So the system is working, the City Council, staff, and county personnel, along with citizens are working toward implementing the necessary City Ordinances to protect helpless animals. And the wheels of justice are moving forward to stop the heinous practice of cruelly killing pets in Modesto by intentional abandonment.
I’ll let you know when the next step occurs.
NOTE: So much content and information was shared at our September 2012 Salida MAC meeting that I decided to compile it on a blog because there’s no way all of this info could fit into our printed newsletter. ~ Editor, Katherine Borges
on-line to protest the attempted annexation of Salida by Modesto you will want to read and possibly sign.
By Emerson Drake
As most now know, Stanislaus County and Modesto have paid $30,000 each towards a study of the costs surrounding the possible annexation of Salida by Modesto. After going to several meetings in Salida, from the Hammett Road Interchange meeting to a Salida MAC meeting, it’s obvious most civically active Salidans are overwhelmingly against the annexation. Unfortunately governments are seldom driven by what their constituents desire, rather, they are motivated by either special interest groups or political self-interest.
In this case it’s obvious it’s both.
Stanislaus County would like to get Salida onto someone elses checkbook. Salida has a simple problem, they don’t have the tax base necessary for easy independence at this time. In years past Modesto held the metaphorical gun to their head when it stole Costco and the rest of the stores on the north side of Kiernan from Salida in a water/sewer deal for the sales tax generated by these businesses. The County has been careful to keep the small strip business parks lining North 99 for themselves too.
Now developers like Modesto Councilman Joe Muratore, who was caught with his finger in the Federal HUD/NSP2 money pie, are at it again. Councilman Muratore, thru his company Benchmark Realty, is representing land owners in Salida, one being a current business partner, Stephen Endsley. At the same time the Councilman voted to move Modesto a step closer to the annexation of Salida. See it’s easier to control development if you have friends on the Planning Board and are a Councilman. Modesto already has 5,700 acres in their sphere of influence to develop but that isn’t enough according to Modesto politicians and their political donors.
At a recent City and County liaison meeting we once again heard the term developers love, when the phrase “low hanging fruit’ was used several times when referring to Salida.
Most Salidans say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
An online petition has been created for Salidans, Modestans, and indeed ALL citizens of the county to sign to register their concerns. I invite everyone who wants to help David from being devoured by Goliath, to sign and let their thoughts be known. Say NO to greedy special interest groups who would plant driveways instead of crops and change the quaint, rural environment of Salida into the city controlled by developers that Modesto has become.
Please consider clicking on the link and filling the form out. Thank you.
Tonight’s discussions include the MPD’s response to a 14-year-old girl getting beat up and a video made at Enochs High school, last nights Salida MAC meeting including an update on the annexation, MID cover-up of $21,000 in “special spending”, A quick look at the local Bail Bond Industry, missed opportunity regarding the veteran’s jobs bill. This and more, so make a difference by participating in the democratic process and let your voice be heard.
7:00 PM Wednesday on Blogtalk or 104.9 FM Salida/Modesto
Our call in number is 1-347-215-9414
Some of the topics discussed will reference articles on http://EyeOnModesto.com/
Todays topics include a Salida annexation update including Modesto Councilman Joe Muratore’s recent incursion in Salida. A conversation about Salida MAC Modesto City Council response to the Grand Jury report about SCAP and NSP2 money. and of course national issues we should all be concerned about especially women.
Wednesday nights at 7:00 PM Pacific
Please join us. Our call in number is 347-215-9414
104.9 FM is our flagship station
By Emerson Drake
Yes, Councilman Joe Muratore has yet again figured out a way to profit from his position on the Modesto City Council. Starting just after he was elected, Muratore sought out county politicians and started to prime the annex Salida pump. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised after his NSP2 debacle of pocketing $62,500 dollars from a commission his Benchmark Realty partner Ryan Swehla generated by using Swehla’s and Scott Monday’s Trinity Renovations .
But his Salida business adventure may just be his greediest chapter with an even more tangled web of deceit. Remember the Stanislaus Grand Jury said Muratore was deceitful and dissembling in not fully disclosing relevant business affiliations and associates.
Stephen Endsley and his wife Ann have land holding in the Salida area according to documents supplied by a public information request which can be found on this site. Joe Muratore has several prior business relationships with Endsley. From a failed solar venture between himself, Swehla, Hawn, and Endsley, to an investment with Stephen Endsley valued between $20,000 and $100,000 dollars according to forms filed with the state. Muratore has been meeting behind the scenes encouraging the County to sweeten the pot which would enable Modesto to annex Salida, potentially at relatively little cost.
On August 7th during a City Council meeting Muratore voted for consent item #27 which has Modesto footing half the cost ($30,000) of a feasibility study to discover definitively what the financial situation would be if and when Modesto were to annex Salida. I suppose it isn’t surprising to see a politician fattening their wallet while feeding at the public trough. Now all Muratore has to do is recuse himself from all discussion and voting, but Joe doesn’t seem concerned about right and wrong, just about money, so he keeps on voting.
After all, between Muratore the Modesto Councilman, Swehla his business partner in several ventures and who sits on Modesto’s Board of Zoning Adjustment, and Endsley again his business partner and sometimes investor who has land in Salida waiting to be developed under a friendly administration, what could be a better arrangement?
Could Muratore be planning on some short-term cash flow or is he stocking up for the future? Here is a picture of Muratore’s Benchmark Realty sign offering land for sale in Salida. The sign can be found on a vacant lot in front of the Vizcaya Housing Tract along Pirrone Road in Salida just before Hammett, East of Highway 99. I wonder if his client is aware of how many pies Joe has his fingers in?
Muratore’s business ventures just might benefit from a hurried up annexation with a friendly Zoning Board and a Councilman to shepard the whole process through. Kind of reminiscent of their participation in the NSP2 program? Hmm…