Friday, May 15, 2009

Community Building 101

Modesto-based Bright Development boasts on its Web site: "Bright doesn't just build homes, Bright builds families, neighborhoods and communities where homeowners like you can indulge in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

But does building neighborhoods and communities include squeezing strapped school districts for cash?

This story in the Saturday Tracy Press explains how Bright exercised its rights to the land acquired by the Tracy Unified School District via eminent domain and obtained what a jury determined to be a "fair" sum for the land — even though the Pombos, who kind of own the land, agreed to a price that was far less.

Sounds, OK, right? After all, Bright's legally entitled to the land and that money. Even though Bright argued that a high school in the middle of their planned development off Lammers Road would actually decrease property values (because of all those fighting, drug-dealing teens, of course), fine. That's fair.

But insisting that TUSD also pay $576,000 in legal fees? At a time when school districts have already slashed millions from their budgets and are waiting for the next axe to fall in Sacramento?


Bright wasn't available to comment for the Press report. I haven't talked to them, either.

I'm eager to hear Bright's side of the story. If I get some answers, expect a rehash of this blog in a future column.

No comments: