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Apartment complex is wrong project for Lathrop Road site

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POSTED April 20, 2017 1:23 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
This is a copy of a letter sent to the Manteca Planning Commission to the Manteca Luxury Apartments proposed on Lathrop Road, west of Union Road.
This project has a lot of unresolved issues that make it the wrong project for this location.  The north end of the Project’s third floor apartments will still have a view into Woodbridge back yards irrespective of trees.  The redwood trees currently in place leave a substantial viewing space into the back yards of our homes.  Further compounding this concern is that where the Project would be located, the grade is approximately 4 to 5 feet higher than that of the Woodbridge homes the other side of the fence.
Kids living in these apartments are going to need bussing to school.  The planned school in Union Ranch that was used in the EIR to mitigate kids attending school was never built.  Kids will now need to be picked up and dropped off on Lathrop Road where it has already been frequently noted that traffic, including very large 80,000-pound trucks, does not stop for the stop signs extended from school buses.  Where is the place designed for a school bus to pull off the road and pick up students like has been required at the new development that is south of the tracks on Airport Way?  How will the EIR mitigate this problem?
These apartments are stated to be luxury apartments, but as has happened elsewhere in the City, multiple families are likely to move into a single apartment to be able to afford the rent.  This will likely mean more kids.  No facilities or green space are being provided for kids to play.  For kids to go to a park, they would have to cross very busy Lathrop Road which includes a lot of large, heavy truck traffic.  Remember what happened to the young child crossing Woodward Avenue with his grandfather just over a year ago?
We frequently see kit foxes and hawks roaming the project area.  The San Joaquin Kit Fox has been on the Federal Endangered list since 1967 and on the State of California Endangered list since 1971.  The Swainson’s Hawk has been listed as a threatened species since 1983.  This entire area of the project is the ideal habitat for these two endangered species.  The recent disking of this area may even have been illegal.  How does the EIR mitigate for endangered species?
At the first Visioning Workshop on March 23, there were about 35 Manteca residents and business owners there.  During the workshop part of that meeting, with about six tables with six or more people per table, each table was asked to show on a map of Manteca’s sphere of influence where we thought the special needs of Manteca should be located.  All of the tables unilaterally and unanimously determined that high density residential was needed, and when we all showed our maps, all six tables had shown the need to place apartment complexes on the periphery of the City located near major interchanges.  The unanimous idea in all of our maps was that apartments should be placed where low density residential and shopping could eventually build up around it — that way people purchase their single family homes with full knowledge of what will be in their surrounding area, not the other way around as being proposed with this project.  That is also likely to be the concept build into the new General Plan once the Advisory Committee gets to work.
This proposed project will effectively make it very difficult to develop the two parcels to the west of this one.  It essentially chops up the entire area and provides little opportunity to commercially develop the area between the proposed project and the fire station.  If the endangered fox and hawk issues can successfully be dealt with, then the absolute best solution in my mind’s eye, as well as many if not most of the residents here at Woodbridge, is to combine the three parcels and build single story senior garden apartments.  I believe this idea is amenable to the other two parcel owners and this would double the project area making this idea financially feasible for them.  These apartments would act as a transition location between Woodbridge and The Commons at Union Ranch for those folks who still want their independence but not the responsibility of a home with yard work, etc.  Such a development would meet a very large need and is most likely to have a long waiting list of people wanting to live there.  It would be much better suited to blend with the surrounding area, both physically and lifestyle wise, neither of which this Project comes even close to doing.

Bill Barnhart
Manteca

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