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Manteca stops residents from saving water
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Manteca wants people to reduce water use — or do they?

During Tuesday’s Manteca City Council midyear budget review and workshop when Community Development Director Fredric Clark was queried about whether developers were getting on board with more drought tolerant landscaping, he responded several wanted to but city rules prevented them from doing so.

Manteca essentially doesn’t want them to save water. Landscaping is by far the biggest use of water that is becoming more valuable with each passing day of the current drought.

There’s a drought on but city rules won’t allow new homes to be built unless 45 percent of the front yard is covered in green (read that lawn).

If developers don’t comply, the city won’t issue them an occupancy permit for the home which means they can’t legally be sold.

“We tell people to please, please save water,” Councilman Richard Silverman said on Wednesday. “The public has gotten the message. (But then we make it) impossible to do so. Talk about contradictions.”

Silverman made it clear that he’d like to see the ordinance governing the landscaping of new homes reflect the reality of the drought conditions Manteca is facing as soon as possible.

Public Works Director Mark Houghton has noted that data shows discharge going from homes to the wastewater treatment plant has steadily declined even with growth but water use over the past decade is up significantly since new homes means more landscaping which is the biggest consumer of water. During 2014 Manteca residents heeded city calls to reduce water use and cut consumption levels to 15 percent of 2013 levels although they far exceed 2004 consumption.

Houghton correctly concluded that any future cuts in water use will have to be done with landscaping. He indicated staff planned to bring to the council programs aimed at encouraging the replacing of lawns. But instead of having people pay for new lawns to be put in when they buy newly built homes and then later taking them out and replacing them with drought resistant landscaping, it might just make more sense to change the rules now.

“What we definitely don’t want to end up with is a bunch of dead lawns and dirt (as the drought worsens),” Silverman said.

Silverman noted drought resistant landscaping including xeriscape and hardscape can look nice as or nicer than lawns.

The councilman hopes common sense will prevail and the city will move in an orderly but fairly quick fashion to change the ordnance regarding front lawns for new homes.

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It may cost $250,000 to go to the bathroom

There’s one final piece to making the Manteca City Council chambers compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act — accessible restrooms.

Actually restrooms per se would make the public gathering spot complete since there are no nearby public restrooms for anyone to use whether they are handicapped or not.

The city expects to spend up to $250,000 to get restrooms in place — and that’s the least expensive route. Prefabricated restrooms will be hoisted into place by a crane in August immediately north of the breezeway behind the council chambers. Part of the cost includes prepping the site and extending water, sewer and electricity. Had the city opted to build a permanent structure, the cost would have skyrocketed.

So what does the city get for $250,000? It will pay for three women’s toilets and two men’s toilets plus sinks.

And while $250,000 will buy you a good sized home still in Manteca, it isn’t too far out of line with what the city paid for less toilets a little more than 10 years ago when a prefabricated restroom structure was put in place at Library Park. That restroom cost $125,000.

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Pet food drive this weekend

Animal lovers have organized a pet food drive this Saturday (Jan. 31) and Sunday (Feb. 1) at Tractor Supply Co. at 860 N. Jack Tone Road just west of the interchange in Ripon.

The proceeds and pet food collected will go toward the continuing care of homeless animals in shelters in the area.