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Not in my backyard: Part II
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On Wednesday, the Manteca City Council told a developer of what would been an affordable housing project within Manteca’s city limits that it was not a “good fit” for the community.
Well, to be fair, a lot of homeowners within Manteca’s newest neighborhoods of the Highway 120 Bypass expressed their utter dismay with the proposal of Richland Communities that would have transformed the 184-acre property that includes the Hat Mansion into roughly 1,000 single-family homes built in phases, providing a more affordable option for those who are being priced-out of the community thanks to another market explosion.
No, I’m not going to say a bunch of mean things about people who truly believe that just because a home doesn’t cost as much as theirs that it somehow means that it’ll drive down their respective home prices – not taking into account that the price that they paid contributed to the need for more affordable housing for people who don’t have the luxury of moving from more expensive places in the state into some place more affordable.
That’s an argument that has been ongoing in this community for decades — for as long as I can remember — and isn’t going to be solved by a newspaper column.
There are Manteca residents who, through no fault of their own will, never be able to own a house here at the rate that things are going. And there are even more people being priced out of the rental market here in Manteca as a direct result of the property value explosion. I understand that is capitalism and that’s how things work in America — that people who have the means to pay for things will always have the opportunity to do so — but I also think that the city council, which as a body has routinely referenced the need to do something about affordable housing in the community, needs to do something other than wait for what would be considered the “ideal” proposal while perfectly workable ones that the one they unanimously defeated pass by.
Now, these comments are also laced with irony. The developer proposing this project is the same one that left Lathrop holding a new high school that wasn’t capable of being hooked up to the sewer system, and it’s the same developer that had to pay millions of dollars in a court settlement with contractors who were never paid for the work that they completed in what is now being called Central Lathrop.
Those points were never called into question by anybody who spoke to the council Wednesday night, and the only negative comment about the developer that was made – that they specialize in “entitlement” projects – was incorrect.
I found it fitting that one of the fliers that was circulated that helped pack the council chambers Wednesday night – to the point that Manteca Fire Marshal Lantz Rey was turning people away at the door – had a bold headline that said, “not in my backyard” across the top.
According to Wikipedia, the acronym for such a statement – NIMBY – is a “pejorative characterization of residents to a proposal for a new development because it is close to them.” But the entry also noted that in order for it to be true Nimbyism, those same residents also need to believe that such projects are obviously necessary in a society, just not in close location to their own respective homes.
I don’t know that applies to everybody who spoke on Wednesday, so I’m not going to use a blanket term. But I am going to say that affordable housing is real issue not just in Manteca, but all of the other communities that surround it and I hope that the Manteca City Council does something to address it.
Maybe this wasn’t the ideal project for the neighborhood, but there is one out there somewhere, and I hope they find it.

Firework frenzy
By all non-scientific accounts of what happened throughout the area on the Fourth of July, this was the worst ever when it came to illegal fireworks.
And that’s baffling to me.
In the month leading up to the Fourth of July — I’m terrible with time, so this is as good as I can get things right now — the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office and every law enforcement agency and most fire agencies in the county sent a clear message to people at a press event at the Stockton Airport.
If we catch you, we will fine you.
And even as communities adopt cell phone apps that make it possible for enforcers to issue citations of up to $750, people are still going out of their way to blast aerial fireworks into the sky.
I do get the irony of telling somebody that they can’t do something on a holiday that centers around freedom, but I also don’t think we should be able to pick-and-choose which laws we’re willing to agree with on certain days because it doesn’t fit a particular narrative or worldview.
At the end of the day they’re dangerous – especially in a region of the state that has experienced record heat waves and doesn’t have the humidity of places where some of these fireworks come from that are green year-round as a result of the climate.
Then you have what happened in Lathrop when the Fire Chief himself responded to a call for illegal fireworks and had to call for Lathrop Police Services to back up him and his firefighters because people were throwing fireworks at them while they were trying to do their job.
I know that community groups make money by selling fireworks, and it’s hard to tell somebody with a shoestring budget that the roughly $10,000 they’ll make in a week to support their efforts is going away.
But I also want to point out that before safe-and-sane fireworks were a thing in San Joaquin County — I remember vividly when Ripon was the first to open up sales — it was much harder for people who were firing off illegal fireworks to do so.
This wasn’t ever nearly as much of an issue as it is today.
Just something to think about.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.