An advisory measure on the Nov. 3 ballot asks if Modesto voters approve of sewer line extensions to 10 county islands.
Measure H includes the remaining county residential areas in Modesto that have never been subject to a sewer extension vote, officials have said. Most of the neglected unincorporated areas are on the west and south sides of Modesto.
County islands were typically created when residential areas were built in the Stanislaus County jurisdiction many years ago and the city grew around them.
Measure H was put on the ballot to hold a single vote on the county pockets, thereby reducing election costs. Since 1979, Modesto has required the nonbinding votes before sewer lines are extended for urban development.
The city and county are splitting the election cost for Measure H, which was originally estimated at $90,000 or less. The ballot measure is an initial step before the county can seek grants for improvements to the disadvantaged neighborhoods. The county is required to build sidewalks and other upgrades before the city provides sewer service.
Officials say most of the islands are residential neighborhoods on septic tanks, which can contaminate the groundwater.
The formal argument in favor of Measure H says it will improve health conditions for residents. The argument was signed by Mayor Garrad Marsh and City Council members Jenny Kenoyer and Bill Zoslocki. There is no argument against the ballot measure.
Eight of the county islands, totaling 1,250 acres, are in west and south Modesto. The other two include 15 acres on the east side of McHenry Avenue, just south of Claratina Avenue, and a 90-acre area near Coffee Road and Sylvan Avenue. The county islands are shown on a map in the sample ballots mailed to registered voters.
One island includes 80 acres, bordered by Woodland Avenue and Mercy Avenue, west of Carpenter Road, in Board of Supervisors Chairman Terry Withrow’s district. Withrow said those residents have never asked him about receiving city services. Still, he agreed with focusing attention on the county pockets.
County Public Works Director Matt Machado said the 10 islands are not on a schedule for improvements. Those neighborhoods where average incomes are lower should be eligible for grants to pay for upgrades.
“Once this advisory measure happens, we can start looking at these islands,” Machado said. Some neighborhoods may not qualify for grant assistance if incomes are higher, he said.
The county is currently working on urban improvements for the airport neighborhood. Residents of Parklawn, a county pocket in south Modesto, are starting the process of connecting their homes to sewer service five years after a sewer extension vote. Another example of a county island makeover is the 145-acre Shackelford area, which was annexed to Modesto in 2012.
A map showing the county islands can be viewed at www.stanvote.com/sample-ballot.shtm, under “view your e-sample ballot pamphlet.” Type in your street address to see your ballot pamphlet and polling site.
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321