After 60 years of serving the Turlock community, the Employment Development Department will soon close the doors at its Broadway location and move to Modesto.
While the move was made to save operation costs, many are displeased with the decision to consolidate the two offices.
“People will have issues trying to get there,” said Turlock resident Lisa Andrade as she left the Turlock EDD office. “They might have problems getting money for buses since many of the people who use the services here are only on unemployment or even homeless. It’s going to be an issue.”
The EDD Modesto Cluster Manager Eva Rios said that although department staff do not wish to leave the Turlock office, the cost of operating there was no longer justifiable.
“The decision was made as an effort to save money,” said Rios. “The cost of operations did not justify the cost of the building. There’s also just not enough staff, and we have not been able to fill those positions due to hiring restrictions. We don’t want to leave, but we’re down to four people, so the operation itself makes it kind of difficult.”
While the EDD lease contractor could not be reached for comment on the actual amount of savings expected to result from the consolidation, the current landlord of the building, Bill Youngdale, said that he was willing to negotiate the rent and lease had he been given the chance.
“Last Monday, an employee asked if I'd be interested in selling the refrigerator in the break room,” explained Youngdale. “I said ‘Why would I do that?’ And that’s when I found out that they were planning to close.”
According to Youngdale, who has leased his building to the EDD for the past 34 years, the first discussion about the lease came in June when Bill Walker from the Properties Division called him saying that the Governor wanted to reduce costs. Walker told Youngdale that he would be receiving a call about negotiating the rent and lease for the Turlock EDD building.
“Mr. Walker said he would get back to me at 10 a.m. on July 2 to negotiate the rent and lease,” said Youngdale. “I waited all morning on July 2 for his call and when he didn’t call I assumed that other plans had been made.”
Youngdale explained that it was not until Sept. 20 that he finally spoke with Walker, saying that he hadn’t heard anything about abandoning Turlock until he heard it from the staff at the office that week. According to Youngdale, Walker claimed that Youngdale never called him back about the negotiation.
“I reminded him that he had promised to call me,” said Youngdale. “He apparently looked in his date book for July 2 and had a notation about something to do with his son…He further said that the EDD notified him on Aug. 30 to cease negotiations and prepare new plans for the Turlock office. I don’t know how he could cease negotiations that never started.”
In a final attempt, Youngdale has written a letter explaining the predicament to Governor Jerry Brown stating that he is still willing to negotiate the lease and rent as he feels the loss of the EDD Turlock office would be detrimental to the city and those who use the office.
“It seems to me that whatever money the State would save by moving would be transferred to Turlock citizens because the cost of commuting to Modesto to transact business would cost at least $10 per visit,” said Youngdale “Many of these visitors, about 100 per day, don’t have transportation.”
The lease for the Turlock EDD office was set to expire in December 2014, however a clause in the lease says that the State may leave anytime with a 30 day notice. Youngdale says he has yet to receive an official notice from the EDD regarding its decision to relocate.
“It's like they're trying to sneak out of Turlock,” said Youngdale. “We're not a small town anymore. We're a big city. We have a need for an EDD office."
Alliance to stay in Turlock
Although the Turlock EDD office is set to move to the existing Modesto location by Oct. 15, the Turlock branch of the Stanislaus Alliance Worknet, currently located in the same building, is looking to stay in town.
“As the second biggest city in the county, it’s essential to keep a resource center in Turlock,” said Jeff Rowe, CEO of the Stanislaus Alliance. “We’re currently looking for a new location, and looking to see if there is room with an existing organization in town. We’re also working with the City, because we believe it is really important to stay in Turlock.”
The Turlock EDD office will be moving to the Modesto location at 629 12th St. on Oct. 15.