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Downtown’s future slogan: ‘Winos, hookers & tweakers’

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POSTED November 5, 2009 2:46 a.m.
Finally there’s a clear vision for downtown.

It’s about putting truck access ahead of pedestrian ambiance.

That’s right. Shorten landscaping medians and rip those blasted bulbs out. It’ll allow trucks to have their way and give motorists the ability to play Starsky and Hutch crossing busy traffic lanes traveling from one alley to another.

Downtown Manteca doesn’t need landscaping to attract visitors. If curb-to-curb traffic lanes are OK for most of 11th Street’s vacant storefronts in Tracy then it is good enough for Manteca. And who needs to dress-up downtown? The ambiance of aging concrete and wall-to-wall storefronts would have been better off with sterile looking light standards instead of that fancy stuff now in place. And who needs those stinking murals? Billboards would have sufficed.

What’s with the nice looking benches, strategically placed rocks, trellises, interactive water fountains, plants, and trees? Just because Lodi has stuff like that and attracts tons of people to their downtown is no reason Manteca needs it either.

All Manteca needs is pavement, sidewalks that are uninviting, and easy truck access. The people will come flocking in droves to patronize dance halls serving liquor that are pinched repeatedly for allowing minors, professional offices, cigarette stores, thinly disguised head shops, and the tattoo parlors that come and go. It’s the perfect mixture for a Saturday morning family outing or a romantic evening out.

It is clear what the Manteca City Council must do. Let downtown Manteca be.

That way downtown can complete the evolution process that every other city that has grown in the Central Valley has gone through. Give it time and the slogan, “Winos, Hookers & Tweakers” will be a perfect fit.

Who in their right mind wants to encourage large scale private sector – read that outside - investment to revive downtown by making it look more appealing when it can slide backwards into a cesspool of blight, vacant storefronts, and home to a subculture of Manteca residents?

Yes, those people have to live somewhere – not mention toss their needles and urinate somewhere as well.

The right fight is to continue to bash the bulbs and for civic leaders to adopt a bulb appeasement strategy much like the approach Neville Chamberlain used to prevent the destruction of Europe. Concede the bulbs and put your trust into the hands of the loudest few to shape the destiny of downtown. It’ll work like a charm.

Hold on to visions of a retail superpower developing in Manteca’s Bermuda triangle bounded by Center Street, Main Street and the railroad tracks. It is a place where good ideas and programs disappear into storm clouds generated by fear mongering and the inability to let past transgressions lay.

Downtown Manteca doesn’t need a future. It can live in its fading past glory. Blame the bulbs for cancer, AIDS, the Afghanistan War, and consumers not dropping more dollars into downtown. Keep in mind life doesn’t exist after 7 p.m. in most of downtown which is a perfect way to attract rift-raft and not local working stiffs and commuters. Who needs gentrification of downtown when we can have flop houses take over the place?

Manteca must not fall into the traps of cities like Lodi, Pleasanton, Modesto, and Stockton that are making their downtowns into teeming places for nightlife as well as families for weekend or late afternoon excursions.

The people in those cities were just plain ignorant if not outright stupid. They decided the egg came first and devised a plan and concentrated on putting things in like bulbs instead of ripping them out. What do they have to show for it but a gaggle of attractions from specialty stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues that multiplied in almost every nook and cranny? Manteca doesn’t need that. It will dilute the influence of a few and bring people back to the heart of the city. We mustn’t have that.

Rip the blasted bulbs out. Allow wall-to wall traffic on Main Street so when fire trucks and ambulances get backed up in traffic and can’t go anywhere the next suggestion will be to rip out the businesses on either side of the street.

In fact, that is the solution for downtown. The streets are too narrow for delivery trucks and four lanes of traffic. Widen Yosemite Avenue while you’re at it. Four lanes down Yosemite Avenue will do the trick for traffic back-up plus it’ll get rid of those pesky pedestrians, trees, bulbs, sidewalks, and – oh yeah – the storefronts.

It’ll leave nothing. Then downtown will finally fulfill the vision of a few.
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