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Voters to decide if Mountain House will be newest San Joaquin County city

Mountain House could become newest San Joaquin County city
Mountain House could become newest San Joaquin County city 02:54

MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Could a Northern California community become the first new city in the state in over a decade? That's what people in the San Joaquin community of Mountain House will decide during this year's election.

The last time California added a new city to the roster was in 2011. It's not an easy feat, with a lot of steps required by the state and oversight.

There's also the matter of public opinion with mixed reactions to whether the Mountain House community is ready to take on the responsibility of becoming a formal city.

Mountain House was in the headlines recently for being the most competitive home-buying market in the state.

"Certainly a lot of the original residents who remember when it was 500 people or 1,000 people still aren't used to us having 27,000 people," said Steve Pinkerton, general manager of the Mountain House Community Services District. "Change is always something that concerns folks."

That change has been decades in the making with plans for cityhood established in the mid-199's when the foundation for the town was built. If voters decide to move forward with the process, Mountain House would be responsible for self-governance and self-sufficiency.  

Grappling from post-pandemic growth thanks to transplants from the San Francisco Bay Area, voters now face a historic decision on Measure D.

"Which is a yes or no on whether or not the residents want to become an incorporated city instead of a special district," Pinkerton said.

With Measure D comes Measure E, of which voters are also asked to decide how they will elect their city council and mayor.

"It's a matter of are we ready for that evolution where we are ready to do self-governance?" Pinkerton said.

Pinkerton added that with a cityhood designation, Mountain House would get control over things like land use, traffic control, and economic development.

"It's a matter of it's a matter of, are we ready for that evolution where we are ready to do self-governance," Pinkerton said.  

Olivia Hale with the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters says they have been preparing for months to ensure the people of Mountain House understand what is on the ballot and how it could impact their future.

"We are looking at potentially having the eighth city in San Joaquin County with the mountain house community," Hale said. "It's going to be a historical moment in time to see what happens."

Voters can see a copy of their ballot on the Registrar of Voters website with transparency a key focus.

"We made it simple for the voter to understand what was happening in the Mountain House area," Hale said.

For those who are worried the cityhood designation will mean more taxes and less control over amenities the community has to offer, Pinkerton said that will not be the case.

"Taxes will not, will not go up. It's a reallocation of some taxes from the county to the city," Pinkerton said. "We've got neighborhoods around, we have parks and schools in each neighborhood. We've got a town center planned. We've got a lot of amenities so this isn't just a bedroom suburb. This, over time, will be a full-service community."

If Measure D is approved by voters next month, the effective date will be July 1, 2024.

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