By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Road widening deals double whammy on property owner
Placeholder Image
LATHROP — Urban growth in Lathrop is literally slowly eating into Manteca resident Melvin Kauffman’s property.

It started several years ago when the McKinley-Louise Avenue intersection needed to be widened and improved to make this busy area even safer for motorists. A part of Kauffman’s corner rental property was claimed by the road to make room for the four-way signal light that is in place today.

Fast forward to 2009. More improvements are needed to be done in this section of Louise Avenue, a major arterial traffic corridor linking two major highways - Interstate 5 to the west and Highway 99 to the east. Louise is also the main link between Lathrop and Manteca. Once again, the city is knocking on Kauffman’s door. This time, the city wants to completely knock down his rental house and acquire a portion of his other rental property next to it on Louise Avenue.

This $2.8 million widening project will come so close to the second home’s front door and Kauffman believes this will create a major safety concern in the access to his property. Based on project plans, the road will be widened to the extent that the street will be just eight to 10 feet away from the home’s front door, which could make it difficult if not impossible to have it rented.

It is this safety concern which prompted Kauffman, the owner of Delta A/C Supply in Lathrop for more than three decades, to ask that the city simply tear down this second rental house when they demolish his corner property. Both houses are on the northeast quadrant of McKinley and Louise and are the only two inhabited residences impacted by the infrastructure project.

But Kauffman still has to hear a response from city officials regarding his request. He said he has made his request known to the city’s negotiator, Ron Palmquist.

When contacted about Kauffman’s request and concerns, Palmquist said those questions should be referred to city officials.

City engineer Ryan Bouley in turn referred the inquiries to City Attorney Salvador Navarrete. Questions e-mailed to the city attorney have not been answered as of press time.

City Manager Cary Keaten, who was reached in Washington, D.C., where he is attending the San Joaquin Council of Governments’ One Voice lobbying trip along with Mayor Kristy Sayles, said he will look further into this matter when he returns. He said the “appropriate action would be (for Kauffman) to discuss (his concerns) with the negotiator” who was delegated by the council to do the property negotiations on behalf of the city.

“If he (Kauffman) has concerns or questions not addressed so far, he should talk to Ron (Palmquist) and Ron will talk to the city attorney,” Keaten said.

Keaten also said that the city will only purchase property that’s needed for the widening project.

“Certain portions of the negotiations have been solidified but others have not,” the city manager said, adding, “I’ll talk with Steve (Salvatore, public works director) and try to find out what’s going on.”

The council, at their first meeting in April, unanimously approved the relocation plan for the people living in Kauffman’s rental property on the corner which will be demolished when road work begins in August. All expenses incurred in relocating the renters who will be displaced by the construction project will be covered by the city.

“I’m not asking for more money; just tear all that (second rental property) down and haul it away,” said Kauffman who expects to lose close to $20,000 a year of rental income on both properties as a result of the street-widening project.

But, he said, “I don’t mind that so much if I have a clear lot.”

City Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal said he’s a “strong believer of people’s property rights” and that he will “find out from our staff how we can help (Kauffman).”

If the city has to acquire property, “it has to be the last option” and when that happens, “people must be compensated for it,” Dhaliwal said.

“If it’s true that it’s a safety issue, we’ll do something. We’ll do what we have to do,” he said.