LATHROP – Former Lathrop Mayor Steve McKee had a simple and straightforward message to the Lathrop City Council during their meeting last week.
Make sure that development pays its own way.
McKee – who remained active in community politics after he left office – outlined to the council how he became incensed at how Richland Planned Communities was able to secure their building entitlements without actually having to put forth the amount of money necessary to cover the infrastructure the massive development was quickly incurring.
He felt betrayed, he said, after former Mayor Kristy Sayles guaranteed him that there would be adequate sewer for Lathrop High School when it opened. The high school project struck a special chord given his extensive work to locate a suitable site within the city. When the day inched closer, and it became apparent to not only McKee but to Manteca Unified trustees and administrators that trucking and hauling the sewage was going to be the norm, he was enraged.
“Thank God those people still aren’t in office because they don’t deserve to be there. I have no respect or time to deal with idiots or liars,” McKee said. “What Richland did in that West Lathrop Central Plan through the entitlement process was rape and pillage the City of Lathrop.”
McKee’s comments came as a warning to the council members in attendance – Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal was absent – to understand and research the entitlement process before sitting down with developers to iron out the details to agreements that will likely shape the future of the community.
Approaching it the wrong way, he said, would be “giving the burglar the keys to your house and telling them, ‘take what you want – I’ll be happy with whatever it is that you leave me.’”
“It’s a very lengthy process and there is no second bite out of the apple,” he said. “I think that the city was taken advantage of during that process before, so take the time to make yourself familiar with it now and research it so that it doesn’t happen again.”
All that one would have to do to see what can happen when those negotiations go the wrong way, he said, is look around.
The city ended up having to cough up the money to install the sidewalks along Lathrop Road as it extends out to Lathrop High School – something that Richland was initially supposed to do – and the sewer capacity for the area left a major hole for subsequent builders and contractors to clean up.
“You’d have a Home Depot here right now with its own sewer capacity if it wasn’t for what they did,” McKee said. “Pay attention and don’t get taken advantage of.”