by Michael Isip
The Central Valley
has always been a distinct region from the fast pace of the Bay Area.
Tracy, about 60 miles east of San Francisco, is where the two worlds
intersect. In the last decade the city has added more than 20,000 residents.
That's the fastest growth rate in the San Joaquin Valley and about 3
times the state average.
Commuters buy about
90 percent of new homes in Tracy. Most new developments are like ghost
neighborhoods during the work day. But San Francisco is where the opportunities
are, and Tracy is affordable.
About 30 miles away
lies the town of Escalon, where residents say bigger is definitely not
better. Like Tracy, Escalon was built around the railroad, and on farming.
A growth ordinance passed in 1978 limits the number of new homes to
75 a year; the city actually averages about 46. And local shopowners
there have the protection of the city, which has banned "big box"
retailers in favor of family-run businesses...