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Growth lights its own way
Street light tab no longer on city
Tidewater-style street lights – like the ones lining Yosemite Avenue – are now being required in new Manteca subdivisions. - photo by HIME ROMERO
It costs Manteca taxpayers $397,000 a year to provide power for 4,800 street lights.

A new municipal policy aimed at curbing general fund costs will put the burden on property owners in new neighborhoods and other development by collapsing the cost of operating, maintaining and ultimately replacing street lights when needed within landscape maintenance districts. The only exceptions are developments such as Del Webb where homeowners associations are picking up the cost of both street light operations and landscaping maintenance.

At the same time, Manteca is upgrading its requirement for neighborhood aesthetics by requiring all new neighborhoods to have the same type of street lighting found along the Tidewater Bikeway, in downtown, in Primavera Estates, in Del Webb at Woodbridge and Union Ranch East, on Daniels Street and Milo Candini Drive by the Big League Dreams sports complex, and along Laurel Park Circle.

It is a move that was questioned by planning consultant Ron Cheek who thought it was placing an unfair burden on future homeowners to pay for the streets lights and their maintenance. Cheek emphasized that his client – the developers of Pillsbury Estates - didn’t object to the condition for the approval of their project – but they just wanted the city to consider the concern.

Manteca four years ago foresaw the coming day when they wouldn’t be able to maintain all parks – especially the ones being added – through the general fund. That is when they first required park and storm retention drain maintenance to be included in the landscaping district for the 99-home Rodoni Estates developed in the triangle bounded by Louise Avenue, Cottage Way, and Highway 99.

Since then four other neighborhoods have broken ground that have that requirement.

Over a year ago, the city added street lighting to costs covered by the landscape maintenance districts as allowed under state law. The first two projects to have that requirement included are the 451-home Sundance neighborhood and the adjacent 544-home Oleander Estates. Both are entitled subdivisions generally northwest of the Union Road and Woodward Avenue intersection.

Neither subdivision has broken ground yet.

This past week, the same requirement was made for the 586-home Evans Estates and the 275-home Pillsbury Estates approved south and immediate adjacent to the neighborhoods south of Woodward Park.

The two policies are keeping with the City Council promise to make growth pay its own way plus to take pressure off the general fund that this fiscal year had a $14 million deficit that had to be covered mostly through cuts and some additional cost recovery fees.