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Existing property owners could face $25.3M bill for levees
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Existing Manteca property owners within the 200-year floodplain — including homes west of Sierra High and those saddling Airport Way south of the 120 Bypass —could be on the hook for upwards of $25.3 million to fund enhanced levee protection.
No exact number was presented Tuesday when the City Council adopted interim fees for flood protection for new building on 900 undeveloped acres in southwest Manteca that lies within the 200-year floodplain.
 Seth Wurzel — a consultant that is crafting the flood protection fees —noted the growth fees in Manteca would generate $13.9 million towards its pro-rated share of the overall $176 million cost of needed improvements including the controversial dry levee south of the city.
When asked by the council how the balance of the city’s cost would be paid, he mentioned a benefit assessment district was one of the financing mechanisms that are being considered for the balance of Manteca’s share.
Wurzel danced around direct council questions about Manteca’s overall share of the costs noting there were factors that could change the final number.
If Manteca’s share of the overall cost for existing development is prorated the same way the interim fee is for the 4,100 plus acres of undeveloped land within the overall impacted area it would come to $39.2 million, If the undeveloped land in Manteca ultimately yields $13.9 million that would leave $26.2 million for Manteca to cover in some other manner.
The city is hoping to secure either state or federal funds to cover part or all of the tab. Whatever isn’t covered by grants would have to be covered in some manner making a benefit assessment district to collect property taxes from impacted homes and businesses the likely candidate.
Wurzel confirmed council inquiries that the city as a whole through the general fund wouldn’t be expected to support the levee project. He passed on the opportunity to delve deeper into how the balance of Manteca’s tab could end up being paid.
Staff also was hesitant to discuss the potential of a benefit assessment district being formed given efforts are still underway to secure state funding.
The benefit assessment district (BAD) — should it be formed — would be a cantankerous process given the bulk of the land within the 200-year floodplain in Manteca is undeveloped and requires levee upgrades to be in place for development to occur.
How a BAD — benefit
assessment district
would work
That means the possibility exists 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.
Property owners would have the opportunity to prepay the assessment prior to the issuance of bonds. After the cash payment period is over, a Special Assessment Lien is recorded against each property with an unpaid assessment. The parcel assessments are collected through annual installments on the county property tax bill. 
Under Proposition 13 the assessment cannot be directly based on the value of the property. Instead, the assessments are based on mathematical formulas that take into account how much each property will benefit from the installation of the improvements. Each parcel in the assessment district becomes responsible for a fixed percentage of the total district debt, and pays that portion of the principal and interest due on the bonds each year. 
The interim fees put in place Tuesday would be collected whenever building permits are issued for projects within the 200-year floodplain.
Those fees are:
$3,145 for a single family home.
$1,417 per 1,000 square feet of commercial.
$1,096 per 1,000 square feet of industrial.
$904 per unit of multiple family complexes.
In all likelihood should a BAD be formed, buyers of such homes could be hit twice — once for the fee collapsed into the price of a new home and again annual through property assessments.
Councilman Mike Morowit stressed that the flood protection would be needed regardless of growth to protect homes and other development already in place such as the city’s wastewater treatment plant that would cost close to $100 million to replace.
Growth by paying building permit fees for the levee work would reduce the cost that might eventually have to be borne by existing property owners within the impacted area.

The impacts of
a 200-year flood
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
force the evacuation of San Joaquin Hospital — the county’s major trauma center — as well as the county jail.
force 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.
Lathrop High and Weston Ranch High would have water flowing through their campuses as would six other Manteca unified elementary schools.
uforce the closure of portion of Interstate 5 — the major West Coast freeway running from Mexico to Canada — and the 120 Bypass.
water 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.
182 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.