How Oakley grows in the coming years will depend on the economy, the housing market, and the decisions Nix and his fellow Oakley City Council members make.
"The economy could mean slower growth than we anticipated a year or two ago," he said. "Instead of rapid constant growth, we may see it coming in shorter spurts now."
Nix added, however, that the future looks bright for the young city, and that is reflected in the fact that commercial developers and large retailers are showing serious interest in moving to Oakley.
"They wouldn't be interested in moving here if they didn't think the demographics justified it," he said. "They're looking at us. We've gone from a small agricultural community to a bedroom community, and now we're gradually turning into a small city with a solid economic base. It will take time, but it's happening."
Nix emphasized, however, that industrial operations are not in the city's future.
"We didn't put industrial in our long-term plan because, frankly, we don't want it," he said. "We want clean, environmentally friendly businesses."
Nix said he's proud to have helped guide the city's growth as a founding member of the City Council when Oakley was incorporated in 1999. He added that the next five to 10 years will be critical in guiding not only housing development but also major commercial and retail centers and transportation improvements.
Nix said examples of projects already under construction are a new Wendy's and Caffino Drive-thru at the intersection of Main Street and Neroly Road. Both are expected to be open for business later this year.
The city has also begun planning a 70-acre retail center at the Cline Cellars vineyard along Main Street bounded by the railroad tracks, Big Break and Bridgehead roads. The site is considered perfect for a "big box" location providing about 700,000 square-feet of retail space.
"It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see what has happened here since we incorporated. When you're not an incorporated city you still pay the same amount of taxes, but you definitely don't get the same services as we have now," Nix said, citing street and road maintenance and police services as examples.
Although Oakley contracts with the county sheriff's office for police services, Nix said he is more than satisfied with the quality of law enforcement the arrangement provides the city.
"I feel we get a big bang for the buck," he said. "In my opinion, we have our own police department. We have quality officers from the chief on down. It is a very proactive department. We don't want an unfriendly city. We want police officers that are people-friendly. They're here to help.
"Our contract with the county gives us considerable freedom in dealing with the department. If we're unhappy with any officer, regardless of rank, they're gone."
Nix said the city needs more officers as it continues to grow, but he believes that will happen.
"All those houses out there in Cypress Grove are going to bring in a lot more police officers," he said, referring to the proposed annexation of 2,500 acres east of the current city limits.
In addition to about 2,500 homes and new schools, the proposed development includes 152 acres of lakes, 244 acres of wetlands and dunes, 105 acres of parks and 190 acres of open space and a trail system.
Nix said that many people both within and outside the community were skeptical that Oakley would ever become an economically viable city - but there are fewer doubters today.
"Our time is coming," the mayor said. "Brentwood has experienced rapid growth in recent years - not only in housing but in major retail stores that add to the tax base. Now it's our turn. A lot of people thought we would never make it, but there are some big projects coming."
Among those is the Safeway shopping center at the intersection of O'Hara Avenue and Laurel Road, which is set to open in conjunction with the completion of widening Laurel to four lanes and connecting it with the Highway 4 Bypass in early 2008. The intersection will eventually have shopping centers on all four corners and become a major retail shopping hub of the city, Nix said.
"What this means is that people can shop in Oakley rather than heading to Antioch or Brentwood," the mayor pointed out. "And these retail businesses will also provide more jobs."
Nix is aware, however, that traffic remains a major issue with residents, who are eager to see the Bypass project and the Laurel Road widening completed. But the mayor cautions that traffic is unlikely to improve significantly.
"Growth will offset road improvement," Nix said. "It may flow better, but as the city continues to grow, the amount of traffic will too."
The widening of Highway 4 to Oakley will require another five to six years, Nix said.
"But the good news is that the Bypass project is moving ahead rapidly," the mayor said, adding, "It's way ahead of schedule."
City Engineer Jason Vogan said that once the Laurel Road widening and its connection with the Highway 4 Bypass are complete, Laurel will become a major east-west corridor with an anticipated 36,000 vehicles using it daily by 2020.
By comparison, Main Street now serves approximately 40,000 vehicles daily. The Laurel widening and extension should be completed by around December of 2007 or January of 2008, Nix said.
Nix said the opening of the Bypass, however, will provide relief from big rigs roaring through town along Main Street, which the city wants to develop into a more leisurely, pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare that includes a park and much less noise and traffic.
"But there will still be truck traffic," the mayor said. "There won't be the big rigs that are just passing through town. We'll no longer be just a speed bump to the big rig drivers, but there will be trucks delivering goods to the stores in town.
"That shouldn't be a problem, though, because these trucks will be coming here every day and if they become a problem, the police will take care of it."
Other major projects that will enhance the downtown area, Nix said, are plans for a new City Hall, complete with council chambers, a new police headquarters adjacent to the city offices at Civic Center Plaza, and an amphitheater next to the new City Hall.
The mayor said that serving on the City Council offers welcome creative relief from his job as a deputy district attorney in Stanislaus County.
"Working to help guide and plan the city gives me a chance to deal with a variety of issues and projects," Nix said. "It gives me a lot of satisfaction."