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Property owners may have to come up with $26.9M
LEVEE WOODWARD1 6-27-15 copy
This dry levee that runs south of Woodward Avenue would be widened, increased in height and extended eastward toward Union Road as part of the 200-year flood protection plan. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The San Joaquin River’s tendency to test levees along with a state mandate for 200-year flood protection means existing homes and businesses — as well as future development — could be on the hook for at least $26.9 million for enhanced levee work.
The most likely way for the funds to be raised would be the formation of a benefit assessment district (BAD). It would involve existing homes straddling Airport Way south of the 120 Bypass, homes along Woodward Avenue almost to Union Road, a handful of homes northeast and northwest of Daniels Street, commercial along Daniels Street, the city wastewater treatment plant, Big League Dreams and a large swath of development land in southwest Manteca where more than 2,000 new housing units are being advanced.
The City Council has only put in one funding source for its share of the $176 million project of which two thirds of it protects all of the City of Lathrop except for River Islands that is within a separate reclamation district and already has levees rated to withstand 200-year floods. That source — a fee on new construction— received final approval last Tuesday just 25 hours after farmers worked feverishly to successful plug a breach in a reclamation district to the south of the city.
Those fees that a consultant projects will raise $13.9 million dollars are:
u$3,145 for a single family home.
u$1,417 per 1,000 square feet of commercial.
u$1,096 per 1,000 square feet of industrial.
u$904 per unit of multiple family complexes.
Unless federal or state funding falls into the city’s laps, the odds are a benefit assessment district will be pursued.
Should that happen the formation of a BAD could be a forgone conclusion. A BAD could be created by owners of developable land outvoting owners of existing homes and businesses since California law requires a vote of property owners weighed by the amount of land they own and not by registered voters.
It requires a public hearing that also serves as a protest hearing. If the majority supports its formation at that time the district can be formed.
Without the BAD, the raw land cannot be converted into housing. That would mean new homes would be hit twice: First for fees when the building permit is issued and then again if and when a BAD is put in place.
Critics have noted the state doesn’t require levees to be upgraded unless cities want to allow new construction that didn’t have specific approvals by July 1, 2016.
But the odds of the city not pursuing 200-year flood protection have always been next to none regardless of the desire of residential developers in southwest Manteca.
That’s because a 200-year flood would damage the city’s nearly $100 million wastewater treatment plant facility as well as impact 120 acres they own where they are pursuing a water park resort hotel and family entertainment zone.
It also isn’t clear whether the treatment plant could be expanded for growth elsewhere in the city if 200-year flood protection isn’t secured.
While formation of a BAD would only directly impact a relatively small handful of Manteca homes already in place, part of the cost — although a comparatively small share — would be covered by all homes and businesses in the city. That’s because whatever share of the overall cost is assigned to the large acreage the city owns at the wastewater treatment plant should a BAD be formed would be charged off to city sewer customers.
Consultants working for the cities of Manteca and Lathrop have devised a “what if” list of impacts should a 200-year flood occur.

What would impacts
of 200-year flood be
Should a 200-year flood occur with multiple levee failures along the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers south of the Interstate 5 bridge before the merger with the 120 Bypass, engineers have indicated it would:
uflood 4,200 existing homes with 3 feet or more of water.
uendanger and force the overall evacuation of 46,500 residents in Lathrop outside of River Islands, Weston Ranch in Stockton, southwest Manteca, and rural areas
uforce the evacuation of San Joaquin Hospital — the county’s major trauma center — as well as the county jail.
uforce first responders at five fire stations, the Lathrop Police Department and the county sheriff to abandon their stations and key communication centers in the middle of a major emergency.
uLathrop High and Weston Ranch High would have water flowing through their campuses as would six other Manteca Unified elementary schools.
uforce the closure of a portion of Interstate 5 — the major West Coast freeway running from Mexico to Canada — and the 120 Bypass.
uwater would swamp the wastewater treatment plant serving 75,000 existing Manteca residents and more than 13,000 of Lathrop’s nearly 20,000 residents.
udisrupt Union Pacific Railroad train movements as well as damage tracks that Altamont Corridor Express relies on.
u182 commercial and industrial properties from Costco to the Lathrop Target and Tesla Motors to Simplot would be flooded.
And that’s just for starters. Modeling shows a number of existing homes would likely suffer water damage in fringe areas that could receive upwards of three feet of flood water.
Manteca, Lathrop, and Stockton aren’t the only communities impacted by the Senate Bill 5 mandate. There are 85 cities in 33 Central Valley counties that have to comply.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email