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Cutting loose community development
Strategy is to have growth pay for cost of planning
In the future retail and industrial projects will pay closer to the actual cost of processing plans and inspections when they build in Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin
Manteca is serious when it talks about growth paying for itself.

 The Community Development Department is getting ready to go as close to 100 percent self-supporting as possible without pricing Manteca out of competition for developments that bring retail dollars and jobs to the community.

It is part of a long-range strategy to reduce pressures on an already stressed general fund budget that supports everything from day-to-day services such as police, fire, streets, and parks. The department was 100 percent supported this fiscal year by money from the redevelopment agency that was made as a “loan.”

The plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 is to move toward 100 percent cost recovery of fees the city charges for everything from a permit for a homeowner to install a new water heater or reroof to processing plans for homes, new subdivisions, commercial projects, employment centers, or planning documents required for major developments.

The city already has 100 percent cost recovery in place for things such as environmental reports and other studies mandated by state law that developments must have to comply with environmental requirements.

The proposed fees will be presented to the City Council for adoption on July 6.

Community Development Director Fredric Clark noted that going to 100 percent cost recovery could put the city in a position of not being competitive for retail and jobs. The city negotiated with the building community to adjust for the sluggish economy and Manteca’s ability to remain competitive.

The result is fees that retrieve much of the cost of each planning process with economic development funds from the redevelopment agency covering the gap.

The department has slashed their expenses by a third saving $624,000. It will have no impact on the general fund, though, as it is now operating as a free-standing city function in terms of financing with RDA money being used when legal by law. Everything else will be covered by growth fees.

The city 18 months ago when they started looking at all municipal functions discovered Manteca was one of the few cities that didn’t charge actual inspections costs for fire-related improvements to retail and employment center developments such as fire sprinkler systems. Much of The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley, Stadium Retail Center, and Bass Pro Shops were built without paying fees. It was estimated Manteca spent $10,000 on highly technical inspections on one project alone. The city is ending the practice of not charging for such inspections. They also have not collected it from any other retail or industrial uses predating Orchard Valley.

Clark noted the department intends to use the slowdown in construction to update or develop a number of planning documents. Included are:

•updating the subdivision ordinance to encourage more affordable housing and more people friendly neighborhoods.

•updating the air quality and traffic circulation sections of the general plan.

•updating the bicycle route master plan.

•developing and adopting the McKinley Expressway specific street plan that will serve southwest and southern Manteca.

•adopting a specific plan for Woodward Avenue streetscape.

At the same time, the department is still processing four major projects - Austin Road Business Park, Center Point Business Park, The Trails at Manteca, and Terra Ranch.