This article is dedicated to the citizens of Wood Colony who do not want to annex into the City of Modesto.
The Modesto City Council is proposing to annex Wood Colony on a whim. They don’t have a plan. Nor does the Council care about what you think. They are doing this because some individuals in the urban development business are telling them to do this.
Your best hope of defeating the proposal is to stand united, be persistent, and be vocal. You should know your rights and use every means to enforce them under the law.
For starters, as many people as possible from Wood Colony should attend every Modesto City Council meeting from now until the decision is made to abandon the plan. Wood Colony citizens should testify at every meeting regardless of whether Wood Colony is on the agenda. You need to impress on the Council that you intend to participate in their meetings until your homes are secure from annexation. You don’t want your homes on any city map, present or future.
The Modesto City Council will do things to discourage you from testifying because they do not want to listen to you. They will postpone agenda items or tell you that you are trying to speak at an inappropriate time.
Under the Civil Code of the City, there is an appropriate time for the public to speak at EVERY meeting. You can be denied the opportunity to speak if you don’t ask for permission to speak at the appropriate time as specified in the Council agenda.
If Wood Colony is not on the agenda, speak during the period of public comment. Before the meeting starts, you have to ask the city clerk for permission to speak and she will tell you what you need to do. Then speak for up to three minutes. First give your name and address and then say your piece. The more of you who speak up at every meeting, the greater the chance that you will prevail.
A trick used to discourage public testimony is to postpone an agenda item and then deny everyone the opportunity to speak because the item is not on the agenda. When opponents don’t shows up because of a short term agenda change, then the decision is finally made with little public comment. This is why you must attend every meeting.
Even if Wood Colony is on the agenda, everyone who shows up from Wood Colony should sign up to speak during the public comment period of every meeting so that you can find out whether the Council intends to hear the Wood Colony agenda item and if not, so that you can speak anyway. The Mayor might not tell you that the agenda item has been dropped until the opportunity to sign up to speak during public comments has past.
The reason that you want to make sure that you can speak is to establish a public record of your opposition to the Wood Colony annexation. The public record may become the basis for a future lawsuit against the city. Therefore, the larger the record, the more likely you would prevail in court should it be necessary to go that route.
The rules are deliberately convoluted to discourage you from speaking. Those who know the rules always get their say. The Mayor can always grant an exception to the rules about speaking, but developers are usually the ones who get the favorable rulings.
One citizen can make a difference. Many citizens working together can make a big difference and are often able to carry the day. Every citizen against the Wood Colony annexation should speak as often as possible and get his name into the record, even if it is to only utter one sentence of opposition to annexation. That is how to make a difference.
Good luck. Your task will not be easy.