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200-year flood effort generates lots of questions
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To say that compliance with SB5 – the state mandate that requires an urban level of flood protection capable of withstanding a 200-year flood – is complex would be an understatement.
But one thing was clear Monday night when the Lathrop City Council okayed the push for an annual progress check with the agencies who oversee the push towards flood protection – it’s confusing for just about everybody.
Manteca rancher and businessman Marty Harris, representing the Terra Land Group, spoke to the council to try and get questions answered that have evaded him for some time – things like who is the agency in charge of the effort, and who is spearheading the push at the local level.
Harris, whose family owns more than 200 acres in an area primed for development, wanted to know who would be able to answer some of the questions he has as he prepares to navigate the tangled web of acronyms and agencies that hold all of the cards in the process.
And some of those questions are also being sought by the City of Lathrop as well.
According to City Manager Steve Salvatore, Lathrop has many of the same questions that Harris proposed to the council and reiterated that it’s simply too early in the process to get some of those answered at this time. Locally the City of Lathrop has been the driving force behind SB5 compliance along the levees of Reclamation District 17. Together with the City of Manteca and with the backing of local development interests that would be adversely affected if development within the areas west of I-5 were to halt – no new commercial or residential development can occur unless certain strategic steps are undertaken on the way to full compliance and a $150 million overhaul of the levees that protect Manteca, Lathrop, Stockton an unincorporated San Joaquin County.
Efforts are also underway to create a unified coalition of San Joaquin County agencies that have struggled to unite under the banner of compliance because of differing levels of necessity. While the City of Stockton and the county are both affected by the possible moratorium, neither have plans to develop within the areas that would be off-limits, placing the financial burden onto cities like Lathrop and Manteca.
Monday’s approval allows the council to serve as the Local Flood Management Authority and adopt an annual progress report for the work that has been done since the monumental “finding of adequate progress” was achieved last June. The authority was then able to certify that finding of adequate progress.
Salvatore said that the city does have a fiscal plan on how to pay for the massive overhaul, and is currently working with other agencies on how best to tackle an issue that will require yearly status check-ins until the actual work is complete. Because Lathrop has already overseen some work on RD-17 levees, including the recent work to install seepage berms, the city met one of its requirements for approval during this progress period.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.