By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
State Of The City
Placeholder Image
"So what's going in Riverbank?" asked Mayor Chris Crifasi in launching into a State of the City address that touched on four major areas, the impact of the current home mortgage crisis and what it will mean to the city's cash flow, current accomplishments during 2007, projects to be pursued in 2008 and some personal thoughts.

Concerning the housing market crisis, "(some of) our friends, families and neighbors have all been placed in the unfortunate position of losing their homes as a result of this time of economic uncertainty ... But the city is currently looking at options for bringing in more education and programs to inform our residents of their options during this difficult time," he said.

The economic uncertainty affects the city as well, said Crifasi. Property tax revenue is one of the city's main sources of income and due to Proposition 13 wrangling Stanislaus County receives from the state one of the lowest percentages of return on property tax revenue. As home prices drop, the amount of property tax the city receives is also dropping.

An increase in abandoned homes is also a result of the housing crisis. As abandoned homes fall into disrepair, there is no incentive for the banks to keep up maintenance. So the city has instituted a program to at least keep down the high grass and weeds and place a lien for that work so the city can recoup costs from the new buyer.

Abandoned homes encourage illegal squatters and activities, he said, in asking neighbors to keep an eye on abandoned homes and call the Sheriff's Department if they see activity that does not seem related to real estate.

With the housing market tightening revenues in Sacramento too, "It means the State is just going to have to get more creative in their attempt to balance the State's budget," said Crifasi. "As we all know with the current group that we have in Sacramento that spending is very rarely cut, so they will be looking to the cities to help make up the budget shortfall."

The city is aware of this and waiting to see the impact, he said.

While property tax inflow drops, local sales revenue is still continuing strong and should continue to increase within the growing commercial development here.

Continued expansion is due in the Crossroads Shopping Center with the opening of a new Chevron gas station this month, Save Mart in March and Best Buy in early summer.

"It's nice to see our commercial center grow into fruition as the major, regional commercial center that it was planned to be," said Crifasi.

Elsewhere in town, Walgreens and La Perla Tapatia are set to take an anchor position in another shopping area across from Galaxy Theaters and a new Cool Hand Luke's steakhouse that should be open for business in March.

In the downtown also, new businesses are springing up, the largest being the Queen Bean Coffee House on Santa Fe Street just east of Third Street.

Riverbank does indeed have a downtown shopping district. It is bounded by Patterson Road on the south and Highway 108 on the north and runs from First Street to approximately Fourth Street on the east. Residents who haven't been downtown should come and check it out, he said.

"There is still a lot of activity taking place in Riverbank even with the recent downturn in the housing market. And that is great thing for the city," Crifasi said. "As our shopping areas continue to grow, not only does it make Riverbank a community where residents have their shopping needs met, it also brings additional money to help the city offset some of the property tax revenue that has taken a hit in the past year."