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Setting high neighborhood standards
From trees to Tidewater-style street lighting
Manteca will soon put in place residential subdivision standards that include elevations of tract homes. Shown is Atherton Homes’ Summit Collection at the Union Ranch East neighborhood east of Union Road and north of Lathrop Road. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The coolest thing about proposed single family residential  tract design standards being developed for Manteca might just be the trees.

The requirement that large canopy deciduous trees be planted in yards of homes is designed to reducing energy consumption by shading as much of the house as possible plus to create the greatest amount of shade on the street and sidewalks. Studies have shown heavy shade reduces the air temperature beneath them by at least 10 degrees.

The city is in the process of putting together design standards to streamline the approval process and ultimately reduce the cost of housing by eliminating the need to re-invent standards for each subdivision that is submitted. The conditions are aimed at ensuring quality and the appearance of Manteca’s tract house subdivisions.

In previous city hall administrations, policy decisions were essentially hijacked by whichever planner was handling the subdivision processing.

Previous City Councils had tried to put residential design standards in place but past community development directors and staff kept stalling efforts to do so. After five years of going nowhere the council forced the sound wall landscaping portion to go forward despite staff’s resistance.

A different attitude is in place at city hall today as staff believes the community should have an expectation of what new developments should look like which means setting a standard that any developer who wants to build in Manteca knows what is expected of them.

The standards that the Community Development Department intends to apply uniformly to all new neighborhoods include requiring:
•decorative street lighting that is designed to match the style of the lights along the Tidewater bikeway. The street slights will be maintained through the established landscape maintenance district.
•neighborhood entries must be identified by project monument signage and accent landscaping.
•windows and doors on all outside elevations will be architecturally trimmed eliminating the plainness of many side and back elevations.
•that no more than two master/model home plans may be adjacent to each other unless approved by the Community Development Department.
•the use of decorative architectural materials such as stone or brick veneer on front and side elevations shall be carried to the fence line or change in the wall plane.
•all masonry walls shall be reinforced solid grout filled and constructed onsite with absolutely no prefabricated walls. Walls shall be of masonry construction with decorative caps and pilasters.
•streets within the subdivision must meet the city standard for all weather roadways prior to the issuance of any building permits.
•the developer must pay the city costs of forming a landscape maintenance district to maintain landscaping, landscape irrigation, sound walls, decorative street lights, and associated decorative improvements within the public right-of-way. This includes maintenance of the storm basin areas, parks, streetscapes, and landscape medians. Payments must be made prior to submitting the final map.

The last standard essentially eliminates any city costs associated with the general fund to pay for park upkeep in additional to other landscaping. It also means should something happen to the decorative lights that are more expensive than standard street lights the costs will be picked up by neighborhood property owners who pay into the district.

There are Tidewater-style street lights downtown, in the Primavera Estates neighborhood, along Laurel Park Circle, and in the Stadium Retail Center portion of Daniels Street.

The landscape maintenance district (LMD) under council directive must be in place before building permits are issued. That means the developer, as owner of all of the lots, would have all of the votes. The district required the LMD be in place as a condition of either the map or else spells it out in a development agreement.

The city runs the LMDs using park personnel whose time is charged off to each LMD account that they do work within.

Staff will work with the Building Industry Association of the Delta on the design standards prior to their implementation.