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4,800-acre community also is creating ongoing lifestyle
A new neighborhood is underway at River Islands

River Islands is not simply building homes then after 20 years skipping town.

Instead they are putting in place cutting edge technology and a lifestyle that will continue into the future through the Ripon Islands Financing Authority.

Part of that technology is providing a first for a Central Valley community — universal access to fiber optic via either Comcast or AT&T for residents as well as future employment center tenants. Fiber optics deliver data at speeds at least seven times faster than cable. 

“It’s huge,” River Islands Project Manager Susan Dell’Osso said of builders being able to offer homes to buyers with cutting edge fiber optics that experts believe will be essential in the changing world of how families secure entertainment and firms conduct business.

Only a handful of areas in the Northern San Joaquin Valley region now have access to fiber optic service. Given River Islands is in charge of all aspects of creating a livable community for 11,000 homes — including formation of the Lathrop Irrigation District that has electric rates below those assessed by PG&E — they bankrolled the critical backbone structure that makes it possible for universal access to fiber optics for the 4,800-acre project.

That is a big selling point not just for businesses that need to move massive data instantly in today’s world of on-time commerce but also for tech savvy homebuyers. It also opens the door for major innovations in education and even medical care that requires quick and large movement of data.

River Islands has just sold its 1,000th home. Just over 750 families have already moved into their homes. Overall, River Islands will build 11,000 homes.

As for community lifestyle, the River islands authority funded as part of a 1.999 percent capped annual assessment on new homes will eventually take over functions that the River Islands development firm now handles.

They include:

uThree community liaison staffers that coordinate neighborhood and communitywide activities. So far that includes a weekly farmers market on Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the River Islands Tech Academy parking lot through the end of September that is open to anyone regardless if  they are an island resident. The liaison staff has helped established Neighborhood Watch Groups, a bocce ball league, various gatherings, and more.

uA security force that works in tandem with Lathrop Police. While they do not enforce the law per se, they provide additional eyes and communicate effective with place when something is amiss. They also monitor surveillance cameras that keep an eye on parks and other public spaces and will tell individuals that are using areas after they are closed that they should not be there. In addition they will monitor cameras at what will ultimately be four entrances to the island.

uMaintenance crews respond rapidly to common area upkeep issues whether it is landscaping or lights. So far there are well over 50,000 shrubs and trees in place in parks, common areas, roundabouts and mow strips in front of homes that are maintained by the authority. Dell’Osso cited one example where a resident called about six plants that were dying in the mow strip in front of their home due to inadvertently being overwatered. The next day the six plants were replaced.

uA team handles property maintenance requirements notifying homeowners when they have an issue that is not being addressed such as weeds. Homeowners that don’t comply are fined. A mechanism in in place to allow the filing of small claims if that ever becomes necessary.

The goal is to enforce CC&Rs — covenants, conditions, and restrictions — that virtually every new neighborhood is required by cities to have but residents are forced to resort to legal action in the court system in most cases to get neighbors to comply with the rules. 

The Del Webb model achieves the same thing but in a more restrictive fashion.

“You don’t have to get permission to do a lot of things like you do at a Del Webb,” Dell’Osso said.

The goal is that down the road in 20, 30 or more years the appearance of the community will still look like it was when it was first built with the exception the landscaping will be more mature and lush.

The community is also designed to calm traffic through extensive use of roundabouts, speed radar signs, and keeping streets on the narrow side.

“Roundabouts really do work,” Dell’Osso said.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email