It isn’t that Ben Cantu doesn’t want homes built within the flood plains of South Manteca.
It’s just that he doesn’t want to do it until the levee that protects the potentially thousands of homes slated to be built there are protected by a reinforced levee.
On Monday night, the Manteca mayoral candidate wasted no time at a meeting of the Manteca General Plan Advisory Committee to make his feelings about development – specifically the development planned within the 100 and 200-year flood plains – known to all in attendance.
In what was supposed to be a relatively straightforward evening of discussing changes to the safety, resource conservation and public services and facilities portion of the draft general plan, became a back-and-forth between the retired Manteca civic planner and a representative from the development community that found his line of questioning “antagonistic.” The exchange reached the point that Chairperson Darryl Quaresma had to bring the meeting back to order.
When Cantu asked a question about why Manteca was building within the flood plain, and was informed by the consultant from the De Novo Planning Group that an emergency flood plan is a part of the general plan update, Cantu didn’t mince words about how little of an impact he felt that would have.
“You can have all of the regulations you want to facilitate what you think will happen,” Cantu said. “When you have a flood, and 500 homes are flooded, all of the regulations aren’t going to prevent anything.
“It should be that you build or repair the levee or you don’t build in the flood plain.”
His comments drew the ire of Demetri Filios, who was representing Manteca Development Group as one of the developers on the advisory committee, who reiterated that recent state legislative actions have made the regulations for building within the flood plain more difficult and contingent upon ongoing work to overhaul the existing 100-year certified levee to be able to withstand a 200-year surge.
And Filios fired back by pointing out that none of the areas that were inundated with water in the 1997 floods were technically in the 200-year boundaries.
“Nothing in the 200-year flood plain flooded in 1997,” he said matter-of-factly. “We have followed all of the regulations and the state has made them more stringent.
“I find your comments and questions to be antagonistic.”
Cantu, who serves as an alternative on the advisory committee along with Marco Galleazzi and Jason Laughlin, announced last month that he would be again throwing his hat in the ring for Manteca Mayor, taking on incumbent Steve DeBrum in November.
The advisory committee made several recommendations based on language that they would like to see updated in the final draft of the sections that were discussed Monday night – all of which, when complied, will be brought back to the Manteca City Council for consideration and adoption – a final document that will steer growth in the city for the next two decades.
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