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Bonus bucks blowback

Opposition arises to allowing developers off hook for $6.9M

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POSTED August 26, 2014 1:56 a.m.

Bonus bucks — or more precisely a decision to let developers off the hook for as much as $6.9 million they agreed to pay in exchange for the privilege of building homes — has emerged as the first major issue of the Nov. 4 municipal election.

The two hopefuls for mayor — Steve DeBrum and Ben Cantu — are not happy with the City Council’s decision last week to instruct staff to essentially give builders an additional 18 months of not having to adhere to development agreement terms that were negotiated with the city in good faith.

DeBrum — who missed Tuesday’s meeting due to a business commitment when the rest of the council voted 4-0 to extend the bonus bucks being held in  abeyance beyond June 30, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2016 — believes the council may have acted too soon and did not give enough consideration to a proposal to flatten bonus bucks across the board to $5,000 per home.

Cantu’s opposition to the council’s action was more blunt.

“I am amazed how the council can rationalize kissing away $6.9 million ‘that can be used for anything’ and then wonder why there is never enough money in the coffers to provide for community needs,” Cantu said. “In addition, it is absurd to believe that developers will not build homes in Manteca if the city does not reduce or forgive fees. History has shown that Manteca has always been a hot market for new homes whether the fees are lowered or higher or there is a recession. The truth is that the council is simply helping the builders balance their profitability on the backs of the residents.”

The council vote on bonus bucks irked Cantu enough that he is going to do something that he’s never done in his previous runs at getting elected: He plans to attend the Sept. 2 council meeting to express his displeasure with the decision.

The item is coming back before the council essentially for ratification of documents that would implement their directive. It was on last week’s agenda to get direction from staff about the request. Staff presented several options including flattening all the fees to $5,000 per home to reflect a cooler housing market than when some of the fees were agreed upon just before the start of the housing collapse.

• • •

Hernandez willing to listen to DeBrum’s pitch

Councilman Vince Hernandez pushed to have the bonus bucks held in abeyance longer citing his belief that the housing recovery was precarious at best. Hernandez advocated taking action to extend the 2010 decision to temporarily not collect bonus bucks at the depth of the recession based on concerns it could cost Manteca construction jobs by forcing developers to build elsewhere.

Hernandez on Monday said he is willing to listen to input from DeBrum on the issue.

Hernandez, who is a facing challenges from Mike Morowit and Richard Silverman for the two available council seats, said it was only right to take into consideration DeBrum’s thoughts since he was unable to attend last week’s meeting.

DeBrum said at the very least he would have preferred the council have waited until March or April of next year to make a decision. That would have been  three or four months before the  moratorium on bonus bucks was scheduled to end instead of doing so 10.5 months in advance.

DeBrum said the council would have a better handle on what the short range outlook  for the housing economy looks like. Hernandez last week said he wanted a decision made in advance of the election instead of afterwards so politics would essentially have no impact on the decision.

• • •

DeBrum wants to pursue two options

DeBrum indicated he wants to explore two options. If the council feels the economy justifies continuing not collecting bonus bucks he’d prefer they do so only for six additional months and then make another assessment. The other was to flatten bonus bucks collected in return for sewer allocation certainty to $5,000 per home. Some builders agreed to pay as much as $19,000 a home when the housing market was reaching record prices.

The $6.9 million is how much City Manager Karen McLaughlin estimated the city could stand to lose through the 18-month extension.

The bonus bucks are on top of growth fees. Manteca collected almost $41.2 million in bonus bucks over 11 years before they were suspended 38 months ago. Bonus bucks helped pay for two fire stations, soccer field lights at Woodward Park, the skate park, Tidewater Bikeway traffic signals, hire six additional police officers, pay part of the tab for aerial Fourth of July fireworks, and to cover $12.8 million in general fund budget shortfalls among other things.

Holding the bonus bucks in abeyance was in response to the collapsing housing market that made building new homes unprofitable.

As such developers, who had more than $40 million in infrastructure stranded in the ground for 965 lots that were ready to build new homes, could not keep construction workers employed or pay off bank loans.

It also meant the city didn’t have growth it needed to help keep the general fund and enterprise accounts from retracting even more and in turn forcing municipal, layoffs beyond wage and benefit concession.

Ironically, one of the developers asking for the bonus bucks suspension to be extended inked an agreement to pay them just three months ago.

At the same time not all developers building homes agreed to pay bonus bucks. That’s because given the city’s current 3.9 percent growth cap and how it works there is no danger of them not obtaining sewer allocations to build homes.

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fjar: 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I have to note, that all new candidates for council positions, just recently showed interest in attending council meetings. Mr. Cantu is not a frequent council meeting attendee. In saying this, Mr. Cantu has stayed quite active in writing letters and comments on the actions of this council.

He is not afraid to say what's on his mind.Perhaps these candidates know that this council uses select hearing, in adhering to people's issues with this council.Voters have an opportunity to replace people on the council that works for Special Interest.In saying this,the people of this city are lazy and want even bother to vote for new faces on the council.They would cry like a wounded moose, if they were deprived of their voting rights.

Millions of dollars in taxes has been spent on basing Special Interest in Manteca using RDA funding. In comparison, this council has an imbalance in spending on local infrastructure that we need. Twelve years is how long this phoney council has avoided the need for a new Library.The last of the residual RDA money is held in reserve, for basing Wolf in Manteca.

The Mayor and Councilman J.Harris gave this city a going away present. They voted to end the Bonus Buck agreement and increase Developers profits.They used large amounts of Bonus Bucks to bridge their frequent shortfalls on the General Fund. So they had this advantage, They leave the city with no future project money and no funding for the five Police Officers paid by Bonus Bucks or money for shortfalls
in the General Fund.This is a typical example of how much they really care about this city.

People should rid this council of Special Interest Deadwood that works exclusively on the side of Special Interest. DeBrum and Hernandez is the last of the bunch, that has put a lot of hurt on the people and denied us needed infrastructure.

This council has spent millions on basing Special Interest in Manteca. They were compelled to spend 20% of the amount they spent in RDA on seniors.Only one apartment complex was built in Manteca in all the millions this council spent in RDA funding. Seventy seven million was left in the RDA reserves and none of this is designated for seniors. I contend that a percentage of this S/B spent on the library, not basing Wolf in Manteca.Seniors are short changed in this community by this council. It is indeed a pleasure for me to see 2 members of this council exit.
Fleener Richards

cmj: 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Being new to Manteca has been an eye opener. What city is so wealthy that they waive that kind of money from developers? Someone is getting their pockets lined and this should be investigated. Or is it just a Central Valley behind the times growth problem. Maybe we need people from the Bay Area to help these council members learn how to run a city properly. Developers running the council. Union Pacific not paying to put over crossings so we don't have to listen to train horns and be in traffic jams at the crossings. And Manteca thinks it's great that train traffic is going to triple. An Intermodal facility allowed to expand with no regard to the effect it has on the homes that surrounded it and have to listen to that racket all night. We can only hope that someone does take office that has better insight on getting what's needed from big corporations if they want to do business in Manteca. No more train traffic until UP agrees to build overpasses on all road crossings, and Center Point should be required to build the 40 foot high warehouses on Airport Way that were to be a sound barrier. No city I've ever lived in would ever have allowed that monstrosity to be operating that close to neighborhoods, and then never check to see how it's impacted it residents. If they keep up the mismanagement, they won't need to worry about new homes, because Manteca will be exposed as the mismanaged city it now is and people from the Bay Area will think twice before considering moving here.

fjar: 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It appears that most people don't bother reading the comments and opinion sections. Mr. Buecrain gave Dennis Wyatt credit for suggesting a cap on building,I am the one who suggested the cap be lowered and he did a take-off on my suggestion. I am constantly writing the council and including Wyatt in my e-mails,the least he could do is to stop riding in on others suggestions.

The lady that wrote an inquiry as to why this council want require developer changes is behind times. I have written many times, in suggesting code changes that would save water.
Instant on demand water heaters is what I have fought for, for a number of years. I also suggested running hot water pipes through insulated walls to retain residual heat in pipes. These people that write in fail to read the paper, then they think they are suggesting something for the first time.
I have suggested a building cap a number of times in the news and in e-mail to the council.

I don't mind someone using my idea's and suggestions, but the Bulletin Editor should give credit to the ones who made the suggestion, instead of allowing someone to believe he was the one who made the suggestion.
His recent letter suggests he came up with the building cap reduction.The least he could do is stop taking the credit for other people suggestions. I even suggested a moratorium on building, while we are in a severe drought. After Many years of fighting to get the council to change development, they finally agreed to consider my Idea's and suggestions that I have submitted.

fjar: 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It is my opinion that DeBrum wanted the council to delay the Bonus Buck decision till next year.Only one conclusion can be derived from this. If he had voted with the council, it would have had a drastic effect on his run for Mayor. It is definitely going to effect Vince Hernandez reelection.DeBrum simply wanted to vote with the council and he wanted to delay the vote till after the voting is over. DeBrum has the largest amount
of campaign donations of all the council members. He didn't gain that status by voting in favor of issues that help this community. He voted to allow the Developers to wait until the sale of the homes, before we received the agreed upon assessments. I witnessed him and three other council people agreeing to pay a Washington Lobbyist a third payment, for going after grant money.Over 250k had already been paid out to this firm in two previous payments. Based on a zero performance for the first two payments,why would you risk more of the people taxes on third payment, unless DeBrum has received a hefty campaign donation kickback from the first two payment. I give the Mayor credit, for he voted against this payment.He said this council might just as well spend it on the kids of Manteca.
DeBrum is a political phoney, for he hasn't done much for the people of this community. One will notice, he has only showed a brief interest in doing something for the public, in close proximity with election time. Nothing he pledges will be a reality,if he is elected Mayor. The Mayors position will give him more leverage to vote on issues that favors Special Interest. Wheres the Library DeBrum that you showed false interest in, during your three stints as a council person.

I think Vince Hernandez in his recent vote, proves which side he is on. His specialty is in making decisions that benefits Special Interest exclusively for campaign kickbacks.In voting to fore-go Bonus bucks, he lowered his chance of getting
elected. Is there anyone on the council that has this cities interest at heart, rather than Developers profits. It's time to get people on the council that serves the community, not Special Interest.

The lady that had an encounter with Developers that backed some of the council members,proves that council people services is for sale at the right price. Delays on assessments and Bonus bucks,proves what side this council is on.

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