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Manteca’s shortfall: 2,175 affordable units

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POSTED July 26, 2009 2:55 a.m.
Manteca needs to encourage the building of 2,188 affordable housing units by 2014 to meet a state mandated goal.

The city has adequate zoning to meet that target for affordable rental and owner occupied homes according to data compiled for the state required housing element update to the municipal general plan that serves as Manteca’s blueprint for growth. The real trick is to encourage developers to build affordable housing.

As things stand now Manteca developers have managed to build or plan just 103 affordable housing units leaving 2,175 units to go.

The draft of the updated housing element goes before the Manteca Planning Commission on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they meet at the Manteca Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The San Joaquin Council of Governments in working with the California Department of Housing and Community Development determined that from Jan. 1, 2007 and June 30, 2014 Manteca needed to develop:

•1,483 lower income housing units.

•808 moderate-income housing units.

•1,762 above-moderate income units.

Manteca - between units already built and those planned will more than meet the above-moderate housing needs with an expected 3,633 units being built by mid-2014.

By contrast, only 11 moderate-income housing units have been built or planned leaving a deficit of 797 units. The lower-income shortfall is even greater with only 92 built or planned creating a shortfall of 1,391 units.

The goals established by the state were formulated before the mortgage meltdown sent prices plummeting. While housing elements specifically address new housing opportunities, the actual need for affordable rentals and owner-occupied homes will be lessened somewhat by the fact housing prices have collapsed by close to 55 percent in the last three years.

Even so, Manteca officials acknowledge that there is still a huge need and that any relief provided by the mortgage crisis is only temporary.

The draft report indicates the biggest potential for creating affordable lower income housing lies not in traditional detached projects but in Manteca’s abundance of commercial mixed use land. The city believes there could be 1,669 lower income housing units generated this way on land already zoned for commercial mixed use or 208 units more than is required by mid-2014 to meet the state housing goal.

Many of these units would end up being apartments and possible condos or rental units above ground floor retail. Several proposals have been made to build apartments as buffers between new commercial and traditional single family residnetial projects such as AKF’s proposal to place apartments between the retail being built on the northeast corner of Union Road and Lathrop Road and the under construction Union Ranch neighborhood.

Manteca is exploring changes in central district zoning and development rules that would make it significantly easier for multi-use projects that have second and third floor residnetial above ground floor commercial.

Among suggestions offered by the public at housing workshops on how the city could encourage developers to build more affordable housing are:

• speeding up project processing times.

• providing funding and offering reduced fees for affordable housing developers.

• building mixed-use housing downtown close to transit.

• using redevelopment funds to pay for infrastructure such as water and sewer lines

• giving developers flexibility in building higher density units through changes in the zoning ordinance.

• allowing higher density development.
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