Here we come, Stockton. The Lodi City Council recently approved a reimbursement agreement with the developers of the proposed Perrin Ranch housing project, destined to be built south of Harney Lane between Ham Lane and Mills Avenue.

The proposed project will be “targeted to the mature market footprint,” according to Councilman Mark Chandler. It could be like the Trilogy senior living subdivision in Rio Vista, minus some of the amenities. It is a “project we need in this area,” says Chandler. When asked about “breeching” the Harney Lane boundary, he’s unapologetic, saying we’ve already done it, citing Reynolds Ranch as evidence. He also says that the proposed project falls well within the city’s general plan. True enough.

Chandler says years ago, when the topic of a greenbelt between Lodi and Stockton was being hotly debated, the landowners in that area agreed to limit development to a half mile north and south of Armstrong Road. Many believe this project will make it even harder to criticize Stockton for building north of Eight Mile Road, which the city is in the process of doing.

“Cities have to grow,” Chandler reminds us, concluding that slow growth causes the necessity of tax initiatives like Measure L to be passed.

Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce, who voted against the agreement, sees things differently. She believes Lodi has enough housing stock available already with the subdivisions currently underway.

She would also like to see developers required to rehab a house on Lodi’s eastside for every 50 or so new ones that are built. Finally, she envisions new developments having mixed densities and price ranges, affording buyers of all financial capabilities the opportunity to buy a new place, not just the fat cats who can peel off $500,000 for new digs. As for the Perrin Ranch project, “I just don’t think (the time) is now,” she says.

PARTY TIME: How much would you pay for dessert? How about $3,300? That’s how much someone paid for a future dessert party provided by City Manager Steve Schwabauer, who is also an accomplished pastry chef. It was all part of the Hutchins Street Square Foundation chipino feed fundraiser last Friday night. Dinner was followed by a dessert auction, which raised thousands. Cakes and pies sold for hundreds of dollars. The dinner was put on by Jeffery Kirst and a host of volunteers.

UPDATES: New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy has some local roots. He’s the son of Layne Van Noy, who was on staff at the Lodi Parks and Recreation Department about 20 years ago. Dennis Cunnington remembers Kyle “running around the Grape Bowl” when he coached the Lodi Rams, while Layne ran the football program for the city. Kyle, as you may know, played in the Super Bowl on Sunday. … Carol Elliott wrote to say that Lance and Laurie Coffman opened Inspire Coffee in downtown Lodi (on Pine Street) since closing the Vine and Branches bookstore. It’s coffee with a cause. Their mission is still to donate 10 percent of all their sales to fight sex trafficking. … Judy Peterson’s Pret women’s fashions store is on the move again, this time to 16 W. Pine St. This is their third stop since vacating their longtime location in the Downtown Mall. … The much-anticipated addition to Lodi Beer Company has been delayed a bit because of some design issues, according to one of the restaurant’s employees. However, they are hoping to have the construction completed by the end of summer.

ADDENDUM: We received a fair amount of feedback from our story about the Pizza Garden, including this: Lodi’s Dale Jolley demo’d the old Pizza Garden building, pool and all, when the property was sold to make way for a new Taco Bell. He salvaged the original “Pizza Garden” sign that hung outside, if anyone wants it. … We also heard from Mark Newfield, who opened Woodbridge Pizza some years ago. He said Pizza Garden owner Dean Buttell himself helped him open the new restaurant using the old P.G. recipes, although, he’s since sold the place and is unsure if the original recipes are still being used. … Bill Slayter also reminds us of this fascinating Pizza Garden history tidbit: Back in 1966, Lodi Crushers — the single-A baseball team in town — pitcher Lee Meyers was married to actress\model\singer\sex symbol Mamie Van Doren, a Marilyn Monroe look-alike. One day the pair paid a visit to the Garden. It was quite the scene. All the menfolk were drooling over her provocative dress while the local press was feverishly snapping pictures and hanging on her every word. All was going well for the well-publicized visit until Miz Van Doren referred to Lodi as a “hick town.” The words landed with a thud. An uproar ensued and her comment was thoroughly panned by all the locals. The actress wasn’t invited back. The lovebirds divorced a couple years later, anyway. The blonde actress, who’s 87 now, went on to date billionaire Howard Hughes, among others.

NEWS FLASH: Lodi’s new Business Development Manager is Astrida Trupovnieks, who comes to Lodi from the city of Lincoln, above Sacramento. She’s a former city manager, deputy city manager, and has worked in human resources and economic development, according to city officials. She replaces Adam Brucker, who made a great move to San Joaquin County last April as a deputy county administrator.

TICKET TO RIDE: Lodi Police motor(cycle) units are making a comeback, soon, according to the police chief. The department’s been down to one motor officer since the city’s financial condition became restrictive a few years ago. But with the passage of Measure L, fresh funds will be available to fully staff their team. So slow down.

REMEMBRANCE: We remember Ralph Lea, Lodi’s unofficial historian, who died last week at the age of 93. Ralph had an insatiable passion for collecting items of history. He spent most of his adult life building what is surely the largest collection of photographs depicting Lodi’s history in existence. Ralph knew history is fragile, and if not archived correctly and accurately, the past will be lost forever. Over the years there have been several people, including Naomi Carey and Christi Kennedy Weybret, who have contributed significantly to keeping Lodi’s history intact, but no one has done more to preserve it than Ralph Lea.


Steve is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears Tuesdays in the News-Sentinel. Write to Steve at

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