A Development Collaborative Advisory Committee (DCAC) was formed in July 2007 in response to the Turlock City Council’s direction. Eight DCAC members from different aspects of the development community have been working on their mission to review the City’s development standards, policies, and procedures.
The City of Turlock has had such a horrible reputation for being hard to work with in the departments of Planning, Building, and Engineering.
The DCAC gives an annual report and did so at Tuesday night’s Turlock City Council Meeting.
Turlock attorney and DCAC Member Axel Gomez stated that the DCAC is working to make Turlock a better place to do business.
Currently the DCAC is working on conducting a survey of development fees in the surrounding areas, compiling the data, and comparing the data with Turlock’s development fees to ensure that the City of Turlock is competitive. The committee is in the middle of compiling data and should have a completed report toward fee recommendations.
The DCAC believes that Turlock has to make sure that we are as competitive as can be, but at the same time keeping our standards as high as possible.
“If there’s a reason why we’re not competitive in one area, we need to know why,” said Gomez. “We need to know what makes that difference and why we should hold onto that difference… so that if somebody comes to us we can explain why and make a viable case.”
The appeal process is another area the DCAC has reviewed in an effort to make Turlock competitive, if not “better than anything else out there” as Axel Gomez stated.
Gomez explained that yes, everyone has an appeal process but it is very formal and takes too long (maybe 30 days).
Gomez said “If you’re in the middle of a construction project, you need an answer very quickly, time is money.”
The DCAC is working with City Attorney Phaedra Norton and City Manager Roy Wasden in an effort to create a kind of hybrid system where the City would have a process that provides someone an answer within 24 hours but still could have the formal process if they disagree.
The DCAC agrees with the City Manager in that Turlock should be the gold standard and we should want everyone to copy us.
Gomez acknowledged that everybody talks about Turlock’s old days and why they don’t want to do business in Turlock. Gomez said that he lobbies why people should do business in Turlock.
“We’re better than not only the past experience, but we’re probably better than most of the other surrounding communities,” said Gomez.
The public perception of Turlock’s Development Services needs to change and will we will be “fighting for many years.”
The DCAC believes the key is going to be our actions, the way that our City works with developers.
Councilman Ted Howze explained that everyone knows the history and there’s no reason to rehash the horror stories, but that before we can advertise that Turlock is open to business and business friendly, we had to become that way first. Howze feels that now the message needs to get out that Turlock is business friendly.
“We understand, especially at this dais, if we don’t bring the businesses in and the sales tax dollars, we can’t support the general services that this city has,” said Councilman Howze. “You have been integral to that step; you’ve been successful beyond the wildest dreams of some of us who instituted this development collaborative.”
The Turlock City Council accepted the DCAC annual report, approved the continuance of the committee, and reappointed the current members for another two years until February 23, 2012.