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Slow growth, Manteca style?
Deficit plan: Developer fees of $2.3M to pay city staff costs
Centre Point developers are trying to get approval of 4.2 million square feet of distribution buildings south of Roth Road along Airport Way through the planning process at City Hall. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Bruce Bentz believes Manteca could pull out of the economic slump a lot quicker if City Hall was more nimble.

Bentz, a member of the 15-member Manteca City Council appointed citizens budget advisory committee, blasted city staff for what he claimed where inefficiencies that were dragging down the local economy and undermining efforts to help lay the foundation for a strong rebound in the private sector.

He pointed to three projects – Yosemite Square, Austin Road Business Park, and Center Pointe – that between them have the potential to create upwards of 20,000 people to work through construction and permanent jobs over the years.

“It is in the city’s best interest to get these projects moving forward,” Bentz said during Thursday’s budget committee meeting making the point that a more business-friendly community development process at City Hall would probably strengthen revenues in good as well in bad times.

Bentz noted that developers of the 1,080-acre Austin Road Business Park – a project elected leaders have pointed to as a must for Manteca – have now been told there will be another year’s delay in the approval process. This comes after developers almost a year ago – before City Manager Steve Pinkerton’s arrival – were told city staff had dropped the ball on work needed to annex the property covering 1,050 acres to the city.

Bentz’ concerns about the city being a hindrance to economic development at times is shared by several developers, although not necessary the ones involved with the three projects he mentioned.

Bentz was making his point during a discussion on plugging part of the city’s projected $11.3 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year through 100 percent fee recovery being imposed of developers for work the city does on their projects. It comes at a time Manteca’s unemployment rate has hit 13.8 percent.

When municipal staff said the Building Industry Association has initially voiced no major issue with the fee proposals, he strenuously disagreed.

BIA members contend they are paying for inefficiencies as they claim it takes Manteca longer than most other jurisdictions to process development plans. Since city costs are 85 percent labor, the fear is that inefficient procedures will cost developers more than it should.

The deficit plugging plan advanced by staff includes generating $2,316,000 by shooting for 100 percent cost recovery for development related fees including $934,000 for planning, $661,000 for building, $289,000 for public works, $282,000 for parks, and $250,000 for fire.

Business park had already been delayed a year because of  ‘dropped ball’
Developers already pay 100 percent of the cost of any outside study such as environmental reports, traffic studies, and air quality research ordered by the city. The city hires the consultant and the developer deposits funds in an account to pay the costs.

Community Development Director Mark Nelson – whose staff revealed in early 2008 that several projects had the ball dropped after a consultant did some checking after developers made inquiries when he first came on board – has been leading an effort to streamline the process along.

They put tin a tracking system to keep tabs on projects as they made their way through the approval process. Nelson has also promised the council that they will be streamlined procedures put in place by July 1 when the $400,000 investment in establishing a physical one-stop permit center. They have already started cross-training and putting together a book of procedures.

Austin Road Business Park’s 1,050 acres abuts Woodward Avenue and Highway 99 to the north, an imaginary line if Highway 99 ran due south at the interchange with the 120 Bypass instead of angling off to the southeast, and future Ripon city limits on the south as well as the east.

It would have 3.5 million square feet of general commercial or about four times the amount of square footage as The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. It would also have 8 million square feet of industrial, business park, and office use plus 3,400 homes. This is also where the proposed Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau events center and 5,000-seat amphitheater is proposed.

The industrial uses would generate between 3,000 and 6,000 jobs while the retail portion could yield up to 7,000 jobs.

The homes could accommodate up to 10,200 residents are just under a sixth of the city’s current population.

Centre Point is proposed for 4.2 million square feet of distribution-style buildings in six structures on 226 acres in an area bounded by Roth Road on the north, Airport Way in the east, Lathrop Road in the south and the railroad in the west.

It would be large enough to accommodate the square footage of eight Ford auto parts distribution centers like the one located in Spreckels Park or 53 Manteca Wal-Mart stores.

The  217-acre Yosemite Square office park, residential, and retail development is envisioned for the northeast corner of the Highway 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange.

The project proposal includes:

•Five office buildings with 314,400 square feet as well as Manteca’s first-ever from-the-ground-up condo project are envisioned for the 217 acres.

Yosemite Business Park includes:

• a four-story office building with 80,000 square feet.

• four three-story office buildings ranging from 46,600 to 77,000 square feet.

• 414 medium density condominiums.

• a 312-unit apartment complex.
• a 158,200-square-foot retail shopping center.

• 28 estate-style residential lots.

• 335 residential lots with 6,000 square feet

The office space could generate between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs.