Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold could be walking into the lion’s den when he appears at Tuesday’s Salida Municipal Advisory Council meeting.
The city of Modesto has not always played well with its neighbor to the northwest. Garrad Marsh – Brandvold’s predecessor – ignited a firestorm of criticism among Salida residents when he suggested in 2012 that Modesto explore annexing their unincorporated town of about 14,000 residents.
Modesto faced more criticism when it decided a couple of years ago to keep Salida and neighboring Wood Colony in its general plan, despite protests from residents from those two communities and their supporters. A general plan serves as a blueprint for how and where a city grows and develops.
But Municipal Advisory Council Chairwoman Katherine Borges said she is cautiously optimistic about Brandvold, who took office nearly a year ago. “I think he is trying to be transparent and sticking to his campaign promises.”
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The 7 p.m. meeting will be at the Salida Library, 4835 Sisk Road.
Borges said she has cleared the meeting agenda to give Brandvold more time. He will take questions from audience members. The mayor said he will not have any major news to announce and sees the meeting as a way to start building a relationship with Salida residents.
“I’m sure this is just (for us) to get to know each other,” he said. “I’m sure they will vent, but I’ll let them vent.”
Brandvold campaigned on a promise to reach out to Modesto’s surrounding communities. The city has been criticized for making decisions that affect those communities without seeking their input first.
While Tuesday’s session meets the spirit of that campaign promise, he said he plans to start holding formal meetings with those communities so they can talk with Modesto about their common interests.
He said he wants to start with Riverbank and has asked Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien for a meeting of the city councils of both cities. O’Brien said he supports the meeting but the timing needs to be worked out. Brandvold said he also wants to meet with Salida, Wood Colony, Ceres, Del Rio and other surrounding communities. The meetings would be open to the public.
Borges urged Salida residents to raise all of their concerns and questions with Brandvold, except for one: water. Modesto provides Salida with its drinking water. She said city water officials will be at the Feb. 28 Municipal Advisory Council meeting to make a presentation and answer questions. She said there are concerns that Modesto has been too zealous in its enforcement of its drought watering restrictions in Salida.
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316