Primed for development
Business View interviews representatives of Patterson, California for our focus on Growth & Economic Development in U.S. Cities
Beginning around 2010 Patterson, California started to experience substantial growth in the industrial and residential sectors and by year 2012, Patterson’s transition from an agricultural/resource-based economy to a more diversified economy was in full swing, anchored in large part by manufacturing and warehouse/distribution activity. By 2012, approximately 1,500 industrial jobs had been created and 450 new jobs in the retail and service sectors as well. The increase in the number and diversity of employment opportunities precipitated a demand for additional housing, resulting in the construction of a substantial amount of new housing, which in turn resulted in the demand for additional retail and services.
“One of the most important characteristics of Patterson’s recent growth is that it has all been well planned growth,” Ken Irwin, Patterson’s City Manager, explains. “There was always an underlying master plan and financing plan in place for new infrastructure developments and improvements in order that the City’s public services and facilities keep pace with development activity. In this regard Patterson’s growth has been achieved in the right way and a fiscally responsible way.”
Another major driving force behind Patterson’s evolution is its proximity to Interstate 5, which has enabled the city to position itself as a business hub, attracting large companies like the Amazon Fulfillment Center and Restoration Hardware. “All these big businesses have brought a lot of sales tax revenue that has been invested back into the community,” says Irwin. “As job opportunities have increased and the city has grown, that has attracted other businesses and amenities to ensure Patterson remains on a positive upward trajectory.”
Always keen to take a long-term view, the City Council has also adopted policies to look after the next generation of Patterson residents. “We have had funding mechanisms in place for a number of years now focused on helping to facilitate new schools and expanding recreational opportunities and amenities, generally, looking after the entire community – young and old,” Irwin notes.
As another example of the way that Patterson’s development looks to benefit everyone that resides within the city, programs have been launched to help reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness. Earlier this year, the Patterson City Council approved a resolution to develop a multi-agency approach to homelessness – one that aims to mitigate the negative impact of homelessness on the homeless themselves, as well as the communities in which they reside. Although the city itself may not be directly involved in these programs, we do help facilitate them by setting aside areas for the programs to be based in, and therefore avoiding the kind of NIMBY-ism that inevitably surrounds these kinds of endeavors.”
The city also seeks to serve the entire community through the use of large Master Planned developments such as the “Villages of Patterson” which incorporates every kind of residential unit you could think of including low-income apartments, middle-income single-family homes, market-rate dwellings and workforce housing. According to Irwin, “The Villages are not just your regular market-rate homes that a lot of cities get involved in. We put requirements on these developments, with one of the unique elements being a self-help stipulation for some of our single-family homes. So, the family actually helps build their home themselves to assist in keeping the homes affordable.”
Moving away from residential developments, Patterson also has plenty going on in the commercial space. Unfortunately, they have experienced tremendous amounts of retail leakage, where sales taxes are leaving the community that could potentially be captured. This is something the city is working hard to address.
“There is a substantial amount of retail that we could attract,” says James. “To that end, we contracted with a consultant to conduct a retail leakage analysis where they evaluated every retail category and we were able to quantify that a substantial amount of retail leakage in all retail categories with only two exceptions. Armed with the empirical data from the report, we are now in a better position to tell retailers, restaurants, and the like that Patterson is a good investment and that we meet or exceed their siting criteria. An increase in retail sales provides the city with the revenue to expand and enhance city services.”
Aside from retail, another focus for city staff is water management. “We have a lot going on with our water here, fixing infrastructure, making sure we locate water for the future,” City of Patterson Mayor Dennis McCord acknowledges. “The new growth that we spoke about earlier is paying for a water recharge program to replenish our aquifer, new wells, and new water tanks.”
These initiatives have been complicated somewhat by the state of California adding new restrictions to its Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). However, Patterson was fortunate that it was able to modify its proposals to ensure they remained compliant. “We have a really good water portfolio,” Irwin adds. “Luckily, we also don’t depend on surface water, so the droughts that are becoming such a huge issue for many parts of California aren’t as significant a problem for Patterson.”
With respect to water infrastructure and sewer needs, water infrastructure engineering firm Lee + Ro has also been an integral part of the city’s developments in terms of its wastewater treatment. As McCord attests, “Lee + Ro provided design and construction phase engineering services on a $2 million biosolids dewatering facility to improve Patterson’s sludge management practices. The design incorporates a skid-mounted 21-inch centrifuge package with a secondary sludge processing capacity of 225 GPM and includes a sludge feed pump, polymer unit, grinder, and conveyors.”
In terms of other large capital investment projects, James reports, “We have a number of projects where we’re looking to enhance our roads and streets network towards maintaining a high-quality level of service and reducing congestion which has both quality of life and quality of air ramifications. Right now, because of all the city’s growth, there’s some traffic delays on the Sperry Avenue/I-5 interchange, but by 2023 the designs will be completed for its reconfiguration and expansion that is anticipated to begin in the fall of that year. So, we’re looking ahead to ensure we take care of our traffic and transportation issues and maintain our local streets and provide an adequate level of service. This endeavor includes not only vehicular modes of travel but non-vehicular, as well. There is also an initiative to expand our sewer treatment plant capacity, and the creation of a new public safety center project to be located in our Historic Downtown Commercial District.”
In almost every area, the City of Patterson is looking ahead and preparing for the future. This includes sustainable initiatives that are assisted by the State of California, where the Air Quality Monitoring board provides generous incentives to adopt green policies. Patterson’s commitment goes beyond simply qualifying for financial incentives, however – the city understands that sustainability is simply the right approach to take. It has ordered two electric trucks, replaced street lighting with LED bulbs, and installed several megawatts of solar panels.
One of Patterson’s recent business attractions is S2A Modular which really embodies the city’s green approach. S2A Modular manufactures homes that are off-grid and completely self-sufficient. What’s more, the product that they manufacture is a net-zero product, but also the manufacturing process in and of itself is net-zero. The S2A Modular facility is under construction and upon its completion will eventually produce upwards of 300 livable wage skilled jobs.
Looking ahead over the next three to five years, Patterson is aiming to continue its upward trajectory. “We are looking to build a brand-new community center and improve our local infrastructure to strengthen connections between our residents, increase wages, and aim to ensure that families feel comfortable living and raising kids of their own in Patterson,” says McCord.
James concurs, adding, “There’s also a downtown revitalization effort that we are very excited about. Our goal is to create an improved downtown area that is pedestrian-friendly, encourages investment, and becoming a tourist destination. In order to create a “blueprint” for our revitalization efforts we are embarking on a downtown master plan as we speak.”
From Irwin’s perspective, he shares, “I expect we will continue to develop as we have been, as we have so many plans and initiatives that we still want to finalize that could continue the city’s impressive growth.” Some of the proposals that Patterson residents are most vocal about include the construction of a local hospital, as well as the addition of a more vibrant restaurant scene. Given the development that the city has experienced in recent times, it’s unlikely to be long before those amenities are in place.
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AT A GLANCE
What: A growing, forward-thinking small city; population 22,000
Where: Stanislaus County, part of the Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Area
LEE + RO, Inc – lee-ro.com
LEE + RO, Inc., is a water infrastructure engineering consultancy founded in 1979 with the same purpose that guides us today: water security for Californians for generations. The company is known throughout the state for efficient, reliable, sustainable solutions for transporting, treating, storing, and protecting this vital resource. Learn more at: lee-ro.com.