Over the last decade of its 40 year history as an incorporated municipality, Grand Terrace has experienced a degree of political turmoil that far outruns its diminutive size.
At 3.5 square miles and a population that has hovered between 11,700 and 12,700 for more than twenty years, Grand Terrace is the smallest city in San Bernardino County geographically and the third smallest of the county’s 24 municipalities in terms of population. Historically thought of as southern Colton and the bastion of the wealthy business elite that dominated that city in the early and middle of the 20th Century, a small degree of controversy attended the effort to incorporate the city in the 1970s. Advocates of forming the city had to overcome the designs of some Colton officials to annex it into their city. The staff for the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission, which hashes out solutions to jurisdictional disputes among the county’s cities, made a recommendation against Grand Terrace being allowed to form as its own entity, since it did not have a sufficient commercial base to generate the needed sales tax revenue to pay for municipal operations. Ultimately, however, after a core group of Grand Terrace residents engaged in a concerted round of lobbying, county and state officials gave go-ahead to the founding of the city, which occurred officially on November 30,1978.
Under the guidance of the city’s first city manager, Seth Armstead, the city managed to maintain a low profile, despite its prominent position at the far extreme of the La Loma Hills overlooking the confluence of the I-10 and I-215 freeways, with Colton to its north and west, Loma Linda to its east and Riverside to its south. Armstead kept things quiet and noncontroversial until he handed the reins of the city off to his finance director and assistant, Tom Schwab, in 1989. For nearly two decades thereafter, Schwab as city manager flew Grand Terrace’s plane of state below the radar, keeping things on an even keel and avoiding any major faux pas or contretemps, and quickly extinguishing any brush fires of untoward attention from what was essentially a bedroom community with a modest commercial district. Schwab evinced proven deft at using bureaucratic sleight-of-hand to make the city’s books balance and allow Grand Terrace to continue as a going concern, even with its minuscule commercial and sales tax base. One of those tactics included overlaying a redevelopment project area onto the entirety of the city and then utilizing the redevelopment agency to pay for building infrastructure and then having the city borrow from the redevelopment agency’s coffers to meet the city’s operational expenses, and, after a decent interim, forgiving those loans.
All was good, or seemed so, until 2008 when Schwab suffered a subdural hematoma, and was hospitalized. Assistant City Manager Steve Berry was appointed to fill in as acting city manager during Schwab’s absence. Berry, however, coveted the role of city manager, and in 2009, after Schwab had recovered, a struggle ensued between the two in which what was at stake was whether Schwab would return or Berry would be promoted from his interim status to actual city manager. The battle royal between Schwab and his one-time protégé threatened to tear the sedate city apart and interrupt the community harmony that had been for many its most endearing quality.
Virtually everyone in the hamlet seemed to be taking sides. With Schwab stood the city’s Old Guard and traditionalists. Berry, on the other hand, had the advantage of having day-to-day control of City Hall and the trust of a majority of the council, which he had cultivated during his more than six months in the capacity of acting city manager. Only then-Councilman Jim Miller was completely favorably disposed toward allowing Schwab to return. The other members of the council – then-Mayor Maryetta Ferré, LeeAnn Garcia, Bea Cortes and Walt Stanckiewitz – were concerned about Schwab’s health and his ability to pick up where he had left off. Initially, the balance of the council appeared to be gravitating toward elevating Berry to the position of full-fledged city manager. Schwab, however, was not without assets and options.
Yet ensconced in the city’s structure was Jo Vehalle, who had been Schwab’s executive secretary and had remained in a similar capacity with Berry. Vehalle, who was able to liaison with the executive secretary who had proceeded her, Betty Trimble, managed to secret out from the city’s files documentation showing that relatively early in his tenure as assistant city manager Berry had been involved in an embezzlement that had been buried by city officials to spare the city embarrassment. Just as the skullduggery with regard to the unearthing of Berry’s employment jacket was being effectuated, the city council was in the act of conferring upon Schwab a retirement package that upped considerably the pension he would receive, which served as an inducement for him to end his effort to return as city manager. In the meantime, the sordid details of the embezzlement Berry had been involved in, which was at that point beyond the statute of limitations, tumbled into public view, with multiple press accounts elucidating the matter. Reluctantly, both Ferré and Stanckiewitz came to understand that keeping Berry in place would subsume the city in scandal, and he was terminated. Bernie Simon, the city’s finance director, was designated to serve as acting city manager following Berry’s departure.
To the extent that the community of Grand Terrace had been able to maintain an air of probity and simplicity up to that point, the Schwab/Berry chapter ended the city’s innocence. From that point forward, the city has careened from one controversy to another, replete with political rivalries that had not seemed to exist previously, accompanied by community tension.
In the aftermath of the Berry debacle, Betsy Adams was brought in as city manager. She made a not wholly successful effort to return the city to the placid state it had been in for the first three decades of its existence. Stanckiewitz, a local entrepreneur, in short order vaulted to the top of the political heap in Grand Terrace following the decision of Ferré, the daughter of longtime Colton Mayor Albert Huntoon and the wife of Riverside Highland Water Company Board President John Franklin “Frank” Ferré, to make her exist from local politics. She had been highly agitated over the negative publicity that attended the rivalry between Schwab and Berry. Both Adams and Mayor Stanckiewitz wrestled with getting a handle on financial challenges that had beset the city as a consequence of its status as an insular bedroom community with a limited sales tax base, the lingering recessionary impacts of the 2007 economic downturn and the California Legislature’s shuttering of redevelopment agencies throughout the state in 2011.
This latter factor was particularly acute in Grand Terrace, given the fashion in which Schwab had structured the use of redevelopment agency pass-throughs to the city as a revenue source. In 2010, when Stanckiewitz was elected mayor and Schwab made an unsuccessful electoral bid for city council, Stanckiewitz had already begun to assail Schwab for what Stanckiewitz insisted had been irresponsible ploys in running the city and its reliance on legally questionable and ultimately undependable and unsustainable revenue sources. When the legislature shuttered all of California’s redevelopment agencies the following year, partially justifying that move by referencing the manner in which some cities had abused a process originally intended to facilitate the eradication of blight, Stanckiewitz ventured an assertion that what had been occurring in Grand Terrace going back 20 years was precisely the kind of abuse the legislature was referring to. In coming to terms with the city’s fiscal reality and the four financial walls closing in on City Hall, Stanckiewitz and the council he led signed off on Adams’ austerity measures, which consisted primarily of staff reductions that left the city with what was essentially a skeleton crew of municipal employees. Throughout that bloodletting Stanckiewitz decried the past performance of Schwab.
In their effort to map the city out of the red ink-filled hole it found itself in, Stanckiewitz and Adams cast about for a solution, at last hitting upon Measure C, a five percent utility tax proposal sponsored by the city that went before the voters in November 2013.
Leaping into the breach at that point however, was a self-styled political reformer, Jeffrey McConnell. A real estate agent and owner of agricultural property at the far extent of the city near the Santa Ana River, McConnell, together with Doug Wilson and Mark Jolstead, spearheaded an informational campaign aimed at convincing Grand Terrace voters that the tax was unnecessary and that judicious budget cuts in city operations, including reductions in what the group characterized as overly generous salaries and benefits to the city’s remaining workers, would stave off the financial crisis Stanckiewitz and other city officials claimed justified their call for the tax.
Calling Measure C a “business killing tax,” the group charged the city with both “scare tactics” and a disingenuous and selective presentation of data in its try to convince the city’s residents that the municipal budget needed to be supplemented with more taxpayer money. The group called for the city to “live within its means and not spend more than it has.” Ultimately, Measure C was convincingly defeated, with 932 votes in favor of it being cast, or 39.42 percent, and 1,432 votes against it, or 60.58 percent.
Subsequently, Betsy Adams departed as city manager and the city hired former Apple Valley Assistant City Manager/Economic Development Director Ken Henderson, who was a Grand Terrace resident and former chairman of the Grand Terrace Budget Advisory Committee, to serve as interim city manager. He stayed in that position from January 2014 until January 2015.
In November 2014, a year after the defeat of Measure C, Grand Terrace turned Stanckiewitz out of office in favor of then-Councilwoman Darcy McNaboe. In the run-up to that election, the San Bernardino Sun’s editorial board, whom Jim Smith of San Bernardino characterizes as “an independent voice,” endorsed McNaboe over Stanckiewitz. In its endorsement of McNaboe, the Sun said she “is smart, tough but fair, and will make an excellent representative for the city in regional affairs while at the same time keeping the pulse of the community.”
Also elected to the council in 2014 was Doug Wilson.
Four years on, the 2018 election is approaching and the political agitation in Grand Terrace has not ceased.
Last October, Brian Reinarz, who had been elected to the city council in 2016, abruptly resigned. After interviewing a handful of city residents who applied to replace Reinarz, the council chose to fill the gap with Henderson until a special election could be held this November to determine who will complete the last two years of Reinarz’ term. Henderson, McConnell and educator Jeff Allen are now competing in that race.
McNaboe is up for reelection this year. She is being challenged by Councilwoman Sylvia Robles, who was first elected to the council in 2012 and was reelected in 2016. The race is a replay of the 2010 council race in Grand Terrace, when McNaboe and Robles slugged it out. McNaboe prevailed in that contest 1,772 votes or 50.64 percent to Robles’ 1,727 votes or 49.36 percent.
Also being contested is the position now held by Wilson, who is seeking reelection. Challenging him is Greg Batla.
An alliance, of sorts, has emerged among Robles, Wilson and McConnell. If their political consortium can pull off a hat trick so that Wilson stays in office, McConnell displaces Henderson and Robles ousts McNaboe, they will have the votes to put their reformist platform in place.
McConnell has been a constant fixture at city council meetings going back for a decade-and-a-half. He has served as a political bellwether of sorts, as the candidates he has historically opposed, such as Stanckewitz, usually end up losing. What remains to be seen is whether he can harness the momentum he has shown a talent for mustering against incumbents in the past for success in his own elective effort this year, and, if he is elected, whether he can effectuate once in office the reforms he is advocating now and has advocated in the past as an outsider.
By default, McConnell’s opposition to Stanckiewitz put him in the McNaboe camp four years ago. But McNaboe has done little to differentiate herself from the patterns of the past. Indeed, like the mayor who preceded Stanckiewitz, Maryetta Ferré, she is herself wedded to a primary element of the Grand Terrace Establishment. Just as Frank Ferré was a board member and board president of the Riverside-Highland Water Company, so too is McNaboe’s husband, Jim, a board member and board president of the Riverside-Highland Water Company. The Riverside Highland Water Company was incorporated as a mutual water company by the State of California in 1898, and as such has provided domestic and irrigation water to the entirety of what is now the City of Grand Terrace, portions of the City of Colton and unincorporated areas of the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside, including Highgrove, which immediately borders Grand Terrace at the San Bernardino/Riverside County line. Pre-existing the incorporation of the City of Grand Terrace by 80 years, the Riverside-Highland Water Company exists as a primary institution of the community, such that those affiliated with it are by definition establishment figures.
The city and Riverside-Highland came to loggerheads a few years back over the city’s insistence that the water utility pay a franchise fee it has avoided since the city’s incorporation in 1978. A majority of city officials, feeling the city had the right to be reimbursed for the cost of having to repair or alter streets and sidewalks in the aftermath of excavations to repair, replace or upgrade water pipes, and emboldened by a Supreme Court ruling that held cities are at liberty to impose franchise fees on utility companies that have easements pertaining to the use of municipal property, sued the water company. Ultimately, that suit was settled without going to trial when the Riverside Highland Water Company agreed to pay to the city an annual franchise fee of $23,000. Nevertheless, many Grand Terrace residents felt that Darcy McNaboe, perhaps owing to the consideration that her husband was the board chairman with Riverside-Highland, was not as forceful in asserting the city’s rights as she should have been.
Steve Berry, who represented the avant-garde in 2009 in the tussle with Schwab’s old guard, has moved on from Grand Terrace at this point but has become something of an elder statesman in the city, as the wounds his sharp division and rivalry with Schwab tore open have healed over and many of the older members of the community who were so prominent in the old guard have passed away. In some of their public utterances, McNaboe and the city manager that was hired under her watch, Harold Duffy, have indicated they have conferred with Berry from time to time.
In addition to the perception that McNaboe has an allegiance to the elite establishment and the Old Guard that is not in keeping with the larger interests of Grand Terrace’s general population, her husband’s control of another more recently created Grand Terrace institution has put her at odds with some of her constituents, as well. The Facebook 92313 Public Group has become a popular on-line forum for residents of Grand Terrace to exchange information about the city and discuss issues they feel impassioned about. While the group as of this week sports 3,906 members, it was created by Jim McNaboe, the mayor’s husband, and is a closed group. He is the administrator of the site and, as is his right, allows only those he approves of to participate in the exchanges. As administrator he can either disallow entirely or take down any postings of which he disapproves. This has generated some resentment among those who feel he has censored ideas or suggestions that run contrary to his wife’s political positions. Many feel this has foreclosed open dialogue about issues of public concern in Grand Terrace.
Darcy McNaboe has sought to keep things upbeat. On her campaign website, she has stated her positions and touts herself as a champion of Grand Terrace’s residents and “the most experienced” candidate. Saying she “genuinely cares” about Grand Terrace, McNaboe said that as a “twenty-five year resident of Grand Terrace, small business owner, dedicated to community service, active in the community and running for re-election for mayor, I’m asking for your continued support. I have provided proven leadership in the private sector and as your mayor for the past four years. Grand Terrace has had difficult times, but I believe our community is turning the corner and looking towards a more prosperous future.”
Saying she is “fully committed” to community involvement, McNaboe said, “I remain dedicated to this community and all the residents. I believe that our future prosperity depends on the dedication of every resident of Grand Terrace. I remain committed to keeping Grand Terrace the most desirable and safe community to live, work and play in.”
She obliquely rejected suggestions of elitism and having closed herself off from input from citizens who have differences with her over the direction of the city and its management, as well as the charges of censorship leveled at her as a consequence of her husband’s selective deletions of postings to the 92313 Facebook Public Group page. She said she offers “representation for every resident on every issue,” insisting. Your voice is heard.”
Robles, her rival in the race, suggested that McNaboe is constantly turning a deaf ear to the city’s residents who have ideas that do not line up with her own about the best way for the city to be managed and directed. She said the city should facilitate rather than repress the expression of ideas.
A case in point, Robles said, consists of the manipulation of the 92313 Facebook site. “A sore point for a number of us, is the mayor’s social media abuse,” Robles said. “She and her husband host the 92313 Facebook page, a closed group of 3,000 plus affiliated Grand Terrace folks. This page has had all members of the city council as members. This is not illegal but is not a best practice. Numerous city attorneys have said it is unethical and the law has not caught up to social media.” Robles’ reference is to the possibility that the exchanges between city council members on the site could result in a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s open public meeting law which prohibits a quorum of any governing board, such as a city council, from discussing issues that are eventually voted upon in any forum other than a legally agendized public meeting.
“In recent years the topic of crime has been raised on the site, leading the mayor to request a council workshop,” said Robles. “As more demands for greater sheriff protection grew, we had another council community meeting that lead to citizens petitioning to bring forth a revenue measure for more sheriff services. The mayor blocks discussion on tax measures for enhanced sheriff services, including sales tax that would likely not greatly impact residents. This is a circus. To add to it, we must endure the tyranny of Jim McNaboe, who is the 92313 moderator and owner of the Facebook page, and board member of Chamber of Commerce and Riverside Highland Water Company, who calls us essentially idiots for seeking franchise fees.”
Robles said, “Great decisions require a great forum of ideas. As your next mayor, I will work to set the framework for taking care of city business. Your elected representatives must have the best forum to tackle multifaceted policy issues. Grand Terrace, while incorporated 40 years ago, still struggles with bad policy decisions from 1978. We incorporated on a shaky foundation of revenues. For decades we relied on redevelopment agency funds to keep the city afloat. Feeling flush with redevelopment agency revenues, the city entered the child care business only to find itself subsidizing child care operations with general fund money. In the process, we racked up over $300,000 in pension debt and over $300,000 in general fund costs. The city, unable or unwilling to recognize that redevelopment agency funding has been abolished, held on to redevelopment agency bonds issued for $29 million and kept paying its debt and interest payments to the tune of over $1 million per year since 2011. During my last six years as an elected council member, I took the lead to cut pension debt by eliminating non-core city programs. Child care was transferred to the Family Services Association of Riverside. We hope to announce another child care provider in the coming weeks.”
Moreover, Robles said, during her tenure on the council the city had “settled the City of Colton wastewater lawsuit and gained $400,000 in one-time general fund money and $300,000 per annum for the wastewater fund.” She further worked toward and voted, she said, to “establish a community benefits fund to fund extra patrols, sports leagues, and senior/youth services. I also fought to keep the remaining $20,000 in our fiscal year 18/19 budget. This money has already helped the Grand Terrace High School Titan football team and helped provide a summer library reading program. Many residents wish to increase sheriff protection. We had hoped a community-led ballot measure would qualify for the November ballot to consider a parcel tax. The fact now is that under a complicated hearing process, the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District is working to add a $157 per parcel tax to all Grand Terrace properties. Clearly, rising pension costs are driving the agenda.”
Robles said the city needs to be more circumspect in making its spending commitments. “Some candidates will say they are against new taxes,” Robles said. “My opponent voted in 2011 to saddle the city with $29 million in redevelopment agency bonds which included buying a lot for a dog park. I actively supported the development of a dog park with park fee revenues. I don’t believe the land should have been paid for with bonds with huge interest payments.”
Robles said, “I have no power to raise your taxes, only the voters can approve by ballot measure any new taxes. Redevelopment agencies were abolished in 2012. I am on the record in every local newspaper as being against redevelopment agency abuse of bonded indebtedness.”
McNaboe insists that the city has moved forward under her guidance.
“Four years ago I stated that it was crucial that our mayor have an understanding of land use and zoning issues required for the needed development that is in our future,” she said. “Through the experience I have gained by my five years of service on the planning commission in addition to my nearly 8 years serving on council I have further developed this understanding. Our city is beginning to build out its only commercial corridor and building infill residential, making this a crucial time to ‘get it right.’ So when I’m asked why I’m asking for another term as mayor, with our city reaching past fiscal health I believe that I can keep the city focused on delivering services within its means while finding outside sources. Further, I would not be doing all I can do for the residents of Grand Terrace if I do not continue to undertake the challenge of keeping the city heading toward fiscal sustainability. I believe I continue to be the right person for this position at this time and that I have demonstrated this for the past four years.”
Robles said, “The mayoral role in Grand Terrace is to preside over the council meetings, sign documents and represent the city on regional bodies. A majority of the current council feel that we are blocked or stymied in our desire to better our method of governance. For example, for at least three years I have pushed for the adoption of a code of conduct, modeled after one in place in the City of Palo Alto. I believe and a majority of the current council believes this baseline of conduct would enable the council to better achieve consensus and better steer the city’s affairs.”
As a real estate broker and prominent member of the city’s business community and 14-year member of the Lions Club, McConnell has filled the dual role of being a member of the establishment and a leading critic of City Hall. His recent appointment to the Grand Terrace Planning Commission has done little to mellow his willingness to tear into the powers that be. For some time, McConnell has suggested that the city has been, if not outright hostile to local entrepreneurs, then less than business friendly. He is also a local representative of the governmental reform movement We the People, which emphasizes the need for local government to demonstrate receptivity to the expressed desires of local residents.
“We became a city for ‘self determination,’” McConnell said. “That means we didn’t want Colton, the county or ‘outsiders’ making laws or deciding what was ‘best’ for ‘We the People.’ But over time the growing oppressive bureaucracy at City Hall, who are mostly nonresidents, have slowly fallen out of touch. For example, code enforcement ticketed me for growing food. There’s just too much bureaucracy and too much regulation.”
McConnell continued, “For more than 17 years, I have attended nearly all of the council meetings, been an active advocate for Grand Terrace, watched administrations and city employees come and go, and served on the board of the Grand Terrace Chamber of Commerce. I was the editor of the Blue Mountain Outlook for six years, am a member of the Lions Club and was chairman of the Grand Terrace Parks and Recreation Committee. Currently, I am a planning commissioner, vice chair of the ad hoc budget advisory committee, and I have organized petitions, multiple council workshops and committees. I understand what ‘We the People’ want: a safe community of soccer moms and Little League dads where we can safely walk down the streets at night. We want more public safety without more taxes. It is time for change. We need a smaller and less oppressive government. It can be done.”
While he has demonstrated that he can work within the system, McConnell said, he remains a dissident who is campaigning with the slogan “Overhaul City Hall” and is committed to making major changes to the way the city conducts itself. This is demonstrated, McConnell suggested, by the intensity with which those who currently man City Hall are working to keep him out of office. “City Manager Harold Duffy, who got run out of Compton, is now going around and contacting property managers and owners to get them to remove my signs and shut down my political activities,” McConnell said. He appealed directly to the city’s voters to have them cast a jaundiced eye at City Hall’s assertions that it is always acting in the citizens’ best interest.
“You gave me a 2/3s vote during my “No on Measure C” campaign to defeat the 5% utility tax in 2013,” he said. “Vote for bold innovative ideas. Vote for change.”
As a municipal management professional, Henderson said he sees tremendous untapped potential in Grand Terrace and it is for that reason that he wants to remain in office to guide the city appropriately.
“Grand Terrace is a city with very good demographics, a very good geographic location and many other attributes that make it attractive to families, businesses and investors,” he said. Nevertheless, he indicated the city has squandered its superior position. “We haven’t taken advantage of those opportunities and made the kind of economic progress we should have made over the years,” he said.
Henderson indicated the city council currently in place has moved beyond the “sketchiness” of the city’s past and has made some appropriate adjustments.
Over the last decade, there has been only minimal development in Grand Terrace, and more than one development proposal has fallen apart either as a consequence of external economic and financial considerations or hang-ups at City Hall. Henderson hailed the Gateway at Grand Terrace project proposal, which on paper calls for a 131-acre mixed-use and open-space development east of Interstate 215, as glimpse of the development possibilities for the city between now and 2030.
“We should utilize the Gateway Specific Plan as a vehicle for putting us on the path to what I hope to be economic sustainability,” Henderson said. “I want to bring the city into the 21st Century from a jobs development and economic opportunity perspective.”
Jeff Allen, who is employed as an instructor and is now serving a second four-year appointed term on the planning commission, is also competing to complete Reinarz’s term. A meat and potatoes sort of fellow, he has assailed McConnell as “a real estate developer” and Henderson as “an RDA [redevelopment agency] bureaucrat.” Like Henderson, he supports the Gateway at Grand Terrace Project and he echoes McConnell with regard to accomplishing the city’s primary tasks without raising taxes. “As a supporter of the Gateway project I believe, through balanced economic development and building strong relationships with our community partners, together we will move our city into the future confident in our long term financial stability,” Allen said.
“I am against the continuous effort by some of the members of the city council to force a tax increase on Grand Terrace’s residents,” Allen said. Allen was heavily involved in the Grand Terrace effort to create a Community Emergency Response Team, leading that effort as a director. He is laudatory about the city’s efforts to ensure public safety.
“Our city is already one of the safest in the area,” he said. “With my leadership it can become the safest without raising taxes or imposing assessments on our residents.”
A U.S. Army veteran, VA hospital volunteer and chairman of the San Bernardino County Veterans Advisory Committee, Allen said, “Our volunteers are the oil that keeps Grand Terrace running smoothly. Let’s work together to grow our Citizens On Patrol volunteers for an increased presence of marked patrol cars dedicated to our city. I believe this will have a positive impact on our already low crime statistics.”
If elected, Allen said he would “push for upgrades of the Michigan Street corridor, including lights, sidewalks, storm drains. I will partner with Colton to stabilize Mt. Vernon Hill.”
Doug Wilson offers himself as the “budget watchdog” on the city council, who has made the citizens of Grand Terrace his priority. A former member and chairman of the planning commission, he has pronounced himself to be the mortal enemy of “waste, bail-outs, budget mysteries, and taxes. 42 years of troubleshooting and working with local jurisdictions to create places for families to live has taught me that government and business must walk hand-in-hand with the needs of the community to prosper,” he said.
“In my professional life I handled $100 million dollar annual budgets, cash flows, schedules, and lived and breathed legal agreements, bonding and contracting,” Wilson said, conveying that he does not need to rely upon so-called “experts” to make a decision.
Wilson said he is an advocate for “building a great legacy for our children and grandchildren by running the City of Grand Terrace like the business that it is, and by providing necessary services while maintaining a firm hand on the check book.”
Wilson’s opponent is Greg Batla, a man of the cloth who has been a pastor to a congregation, worked in television production and is currently the executive director of marketing at Loma Linda University Health.
Batla vowed to “bring a fresh perspective to City Hall.” He said his instinct was that Grand Terrace need not expand to become much more than it already is, which he said is a wonderful bedroom community in which to live and raise a family.
“I will work hard to return Grand Terrace to the small town, community-feeling of the past,” he said.
Batla is not opposed to development, but said it should consist of “high-quality, locally-owned businesses” that “fill vacant spaces, potentially including retail shops, a gym, and a coffee shop.” He said the city should use increased tax revenue from new businesses to invest in infrastructure improvements, including “roadways and sidewalks, street lighting, community areas and walking trails, as well as crime prevention.”
Over the last decade of its 40 year history as an incorporated municipality, Grand Terrace has experienced a degree of political turmoil that far outruns its diminutive size.