Government / Politics

Union Heights developer keeps pressing for action on County Service Area

Richard Ferreira shows supervisors original agreement, questions RMA director’s qualifications.

Union Heights developer Richard Ferreira continued his years-long pressure on the county to provide services to County Service Area (CSA) 35 at the Jan. 15 meeting of the San Benito County Board of Supervisors. He also questioned Resource Management Agency Director John Guertin’s qualifications.

Ferreira was involved in drafting the agreement to form CSA 35 for Union Heights in the mid-1990s and has been at odds with the county since 2009, urging that the local government live up to its agreement which includes providing road, lighting and landscape maintenance.

During public comment at the supervisors’ Jan. 15 meeting, Ferreira said he obtained from the county clerk’s office a copy of the agreement between CSA 35 and San Benito County for services to be provided to the gated community. He said he provided copies of the agreement to most of the supervisors and questioned why Guertin did not do this himself.

“Wouldn’t any RMA director with just the basic qualifications for the job be the first thing he would do if presented with the same problems?” Ferreira asked.

According to Ferreira, CSA 35 Union Heights submitted multiple written requests to the RMA for maintenance to be scheduled for February 2018, but it did not receive a response. And according to a timeline submitted to supervisors, Ferreira made several calls requesting work in September 2017, and a response was delayed. When the RMA did respond, the timeline showed the work requests were not approved.

“Not long after my first encounter with the RMA [director] I questioned his qualifications,”

Ferreira continued. “I’ve openly questioned his qualifications many times since.”

Ferreira also said that a Dec. 11 report to supervisors by Precision Civil Engineering, Inc. on inactive CSAs completely excluded the CSA 35 agreement from its review. (The San Benito County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) initiated the dissolution of 11 inactive CSAs at its Jan. 10 regular meeting.)

An Aug. 6, 1996 agreement between San Benito County and CSA 35 states that the county will maintain and repair the roadway and provide street lighting services through CSA-collected monies. It also allows for the placement of a gate at the entrance to Union Heights as long as it allows access to emergency vehicles.  

The agreement was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors at the time.

“As I stated before, I told the RMA multiple times that agreement existed,” Ferreira said.

Ferreira went on to tell supervisors on Jan. 15 that he explained to Guertin the CSA was fully funded through a special tax. Guertin’s response at the time, according to Ferreira, was that he didn’t care and stated that he could use county funds any way he wanted, and that the county was not obligated to perform any work in gated communities.

Saying he has spent two years pointing out the existence of the documents to the supervisors, Ferreira said Guertin’s actions have resulted in damage to Union Heights properties and roads from lack of maintenance.

Guertin did not comment at the Jan. 15 meeting. However, he did speak after Precision Civil Engineering’s presentation on Dec. 11, saying there was no excuse for why the county is not providing services to the CSAs. He also said he was trying to “find solutions within the laws and regulations” for the gated communities.

“We’re not making recommendations on the gated community right now because it’s a complex issue,” Guertin said at the time.

CSAs are great when run properly, which CSA 35 was for 20 years, according to Ferreira.

The actions taken by Guertin, Ferreira said, have consequences.

“For the county, it has left you exposed and liable for failure to maintain the property as per the agreements,” Ferreira said.

CSAs were created in the 1950s to “fund the long-term and maintenance of public infrastructure within specific communities that the county would not otherwise be able to fund through traditional sources” like property, sales or fuel taxes, according to the county website.


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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.