Weston Ranch disincorporation talk reveals rift in Stockton

As you’ve probably heard by now, a handful of individuals are making a push for the Weston Ranch neighborhood to formally leave the city of Stockton. As reported by The Record and other local media outlets, some citizens of this South Stockton neighborhood are unhappy with what they are perceiving as  a lack of attention from the city in regards to police resources, maintanence and economic development. But aside from the posturing and the process of actually disincorporating a neighborhood from a city lies a deeper issue—why would the city allow a neighborhood to be built where people don’t even feel like they are part of Stockton?

Will Weston Ranch leave Stockton?

What does Weston Ranch’s possible disincorporation talk tell us about Stockton?

At first blush, this proposal to split Weston Ranch from Stockton seems pretty foolish and could be easily dismissed. This push is being organized in part by Dale Fritchen, the former Stockton city council member who lost his seat only two years ago. This new bid to sever an area of a city that he once represented smacks of hypocrisy. How can someone who once represented the people of Stockton now claim his nieghborhood would be better off leaving Stockton? That’s like a Senator losing reelection, and then starting a movement for his or her state to leave the United States. From that angle, this seems like nothing more than a desparate move from a bitter politician (perhaps so he can run for mayor of Weston Ranch?).

But ultimately, whether or not Weston Ranch moves forward with disincorpration lies with its citizens, and that is where the discussion merrits more attention.

I expected those who I knew in Weston Ranch to quickly dismiss this movement—if you can call it that. The vast majority of people I meet and speak with are proud Stocktonians and would scoff at this kind of proposal, so why would Weston Ranchers be any different? But I was wrong. While I didn’t conduct any sort of comprehensive poll, the individuals I spoke to were open to hearing arguments about leaving Stockton. One resident even referred to herself as “passionately neutral” on the topic. The Weston Ranch Community Association is also not taking a position on this issue. So, no one was running for the exits, but the fact that people are willing to listen to arguments about disincorporation is a HUGE reflection on the city. Basically, they feel no connection to the city, so if these residents stand to gain with better public services from the county, why would they want to stay in Stockton?

In the end, the city hasn’t given the residents of Weston Ranch a reason to be proud to be a part of Stockton. The neighborhood itself is a model of suburban sprawl, a virtual island completely closed off from the rest of Stockton. There are no defining features of this area that make it much different than any other suburban part of the city. The neighborhood lacks most amenities and is devoid of any sort of character or charm and as a result, there is little emotional connection. Weston Ranch has a Walkscore of 11 out of 100, tying with Spanos Park East as the least walkable neighborhood in Stockton. The shrotcomings of Weston Ranch were even highlighted in the recent book “Happy City,” which explores what makes neighborhoods and cities good places to live (spoiler alert, Weston Ranch was heald up as an example of how to NOT make a neighborhood).

This is the city’s fault. The city allowed a terribly planned neighborhood with no walkability or connectivity to be built. Couple that with the devastating effects of the foreclosure crisis, and it’s no wonder residents are open to hearing about disincorporation.

And if the residents of Weston Ranch are marooned in their own neighborhood, why would they care if they were no longer a part of Stockton? In fact, many residents in West Ranch spend the majority of their time commutting back and forth from the Bay Area, so there’s virtually no time to build a connection to the city you live in, especially if your home doesn’t feel like a part of any city in particular.

Ultimately, I hope the resident’s of Weston Ranch will vote against disincorporation—if it even gets that far. It would be a huge embarassment to see an entire neighborhood of around 20,000 suddenly disappear into the county. National media would surely descend upon Stockton, dogpilling on a negative story about one of the country’s most downtrodden cities. But mostly, it would be sad to see these residents so fed up with their city that they decide they no longer want to be called Stocktonians.



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Categories: Community Commentary

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia created SCL in March of 2012. Garcia is a Stockton native with a background in urban policy and planning, holding a Bachelor's Degree from UCLA as well as a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. He currently serves as the Policy Director at the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. David was also COO at Ten Space, a real estate development firm focused exclusively on Downtown Stockton, and continues to advise on their projects. Prior to that, he worked three years as a researcher/analyst for a Congressional research agency in Washington, DC. The views expressed on this site are entirely of the author's

8 Comments on “Weston Ranch disincorporation talk reveals rift in Stockton”

  1. walt
    November 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    This irresponsible city continues to consider approval of new developments when there still many unfinished ones.

    The Atlantic has published an article on the unfinished suburbs of America: Stockton is the poster boy. The unfinished development is at the end of Holman Road, north of Morada Lane.


    • Jon Seisa
      November 18, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

      Wow, Walt! I agree, that’s just not right. This eyesore needs to be remedied immediately. Certainly, it’s a glaring testament to the failure of sprawl gone amok.

  2. December 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Would have been nice if you spoke with me- as it was actually my idea. It took 6 years to convince Dale Fritchen to help with the idea so it is not Dale Fritchen trying to get back at anyone. I also would have been more than happy to show you the power point presentation and explained that there have been broken promises and mismanaged funds. This is, in fact, a movement. We have 200 plus strong right now. We are growing every day.

    • David A. Garcia
      December 8, 2014 at 10:45 am #

      Hello Richard, I initially reached out to a “Free Weston Ranch” email address to see if someone would like to comment on this story. Someone did follow up with me a within a few days saying they would get back to me with a suggested time, but that never happened. I would be happy to include testimony from you and your group in a future story.

  3. Jill Fritchen
    December 8, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    I appreciate the fact that you took the time to realize our youth have no place to congregate.
    The principal of the high school recommended to youth skateboarding on the railing at the High School to ride their bikes to the skate park in Lathrop.

    Some history on my family…my husband and I have lived in Weston Ranch for 20 years.

    When developers fell through we attempted to take control of our own neighborhood by getting involved. My husband ran for the Board of Supervisor and I the County Office of Education. We both failed at these attempts. My husband was successful at serving two terms on the Manteca School Board and gained us a High School.

    Suceeding at a seat on the city council he gained a joint use library. From there the city never budged on anything else.

    I served one term at the County Office of Education.

    We both realize it is easier to band citizens together when you are “one of them.” Politicians cannot accomplish much because you are one voice making deals to get anything done.

  4. Courtney Andrade
    December 9, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    Congratulations to Weston Ranch for finally getting the guts to disconnect. I figure Dale Fritchen probably spent much of his time on City Council trying to get them to open their eyes and look South. If they spent some time on The Ranch maybe it wouldn’t be the point where the housing crisis started. I want To know whose idea it was to put all the attention to keep brookside so nice and let the rest of the city go to hell. I wouldn’t want to be associated with the place where murders are increasing every year, there is no care to keep teen centers open or decrease teen pregnancy. Headed straight for a modern evil time and I got out as fast as I could too!

  5. zo
    April 15, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    Even if Weston ranch does split from the city its still going to be Stockton no matter what

  6. anthony
    January 5, 2016 at 10:39 pm #

    I find this somewhat irrelevant, Weston Ranch is a place where a lot of people from the bay area move because it is cheap and somewhat close to their jobs. I also read another article talking about affordable housing for residents. does Weston Ranch not provide that? plus it is close to downtown Stockton and South stockton. Weston Ranch has beautiful cheap homes but it seems like the works are not done here either. If weston ranch continued to grow, wouldn’t that just be a bonus for Stockton as well?

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