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Believes LMDs are a big mistake

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POSTED July 7, 2009 1:45 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

What is all the commotion about landscape maintenance districts going defunct in Manteca?  That was a certainty when the new residents of a subdivision had an opportunity to vote on the district’s continued existence.  When the Council approved the districts several years ago, the only votes represented were that of the developer/land owner.  Did the Council really think that the districts were going to take care of themselves after the new residents occupied the subdivision and had an opportunity to reduce their annual taxes by rejecting the landscape maintenance district?  

For decades, Manteca intentionally refrained from establishing maintenance districts and special assessment districts as part of new residential development, most commonly identifiable as “Mello-Roos” districts, because at the mention of “Mello-Roos” potential homebuyers would literally run for the hills.  Why would one think that the reaction to such as proposal would change simply because it is not called “Mello-Roos?”  I remind the Council that a rose by any other name is still a rose, and beware of the thorns.

The landscape districts were initially established for the purpose of funding the visual enhancement of our major arterial streets, such as, Woodward Avenue, Union Road, Airport Way, etc, as new subdivisions were constructed.  The Council was convinced that it would be less of a budgetary burden if the cost of maintaining the landscaping along the walls were placed directly on the backs of the homeowners within the adjacent subdivision.  

I noted years ago that the formation of landscape maintenance districts was a bad idea, but to no avail.  Doing so is not the proper way to balance the municipal budget or to fund such a program.  The proper way of avoiding these present problems is for public improvements to be installed as part of new development, and the continued maintenance of the improvements should be factored into the long-range budgetary process.  

Benjamin Cantu,
July 6, 2009

Editor’s note: The landscape maintenance districts (LMD) are not defunct. The city on July 1 took over the actual work maintaining them instead of contracting them out to the private sector. Homeowners did not reject the LMDs. Instead the city is using the LMD work to essentially save the equivalent of four public sector jobs - nothing more, nothing less. The LMD assessments continue with the council scheduled tonight to act on the ones for the 2009-10 fiscal year. The city has - and will continue to – provide only the level of service that each LMD pays for based on how it was formed. There has never been an impact on the general fund. That will not change.

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