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Homeowners picking up tab for park maintenance
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Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Terra Bella homeowners may soon join a growing trend in Manteca that’s taking pressure off the municipal general fund by paying for the maintenance of their neighborhood park.

The Manteca Planning Commission will consider an amendment to the development agreement with Bright Homes that will include the park upkeep as part of the landscape maintenance district (LMD) assessment for the 154-home project under construction west of Veritas School sandwiched between Woodward Avenue and Atherton Drive.

The commission meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The trend to include parks within LMDs started in 2006 with the 99-home Rodini Estates now known as Kensington Place in the triangle bounded by Cottage and Louise avenues as well as Highway 99.

That means when the Terra Bella Park is developed its upkeep won’t be a burden to the rest of the city that relies on the general fund for basic services such as public safety, street maintenance and park upkeep. The working general fund deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1 is $3.8 million.

Several other new parks are in LMDs including Dutra Farms, Antigua, Tesoro, and Union Ranch. Depending upon the size of the park the savings can range from $50,000 to $75,000 annually for the municipal general fund.

On projects that are now being processed street lighting upkeep and replacement costs are also include in neighborhood LMDs.

Lenders factor in the cost of the landscape maintenance district along with property taxes and Mello-Roos taxes as well as the mortgage payment itself to determine whether buyers can qualify to purchase a home.

It is a trend started four years ago by a Manteca City Council directive to find ways to make sure growth carries its own weight plus assuring daily - and long-term -park maintenance can be covered in future years.

Manteca is considered a rarity among cities of 69,000 residents in California as it has more than 50 parks - mostly those designed to serve neighborhoods. The municipal policy set by elected leaders is to have a park within a half mile walking distance of every home.

While that creates a lot of positive impacts on the quality of life it does come with a downside. It costs money. Manteca spends upwards of $1.8 million annually on its Parks and Recreation Department budget with the bulk going to maintaining municipal parks.

City crews performing maintenance at parks covered by landscape maintenance assessments keep track of time and tasks at each site.

That is everything from labor to the proportional cost of lawnmowers, other equipment, vehicles, fuel and even utilities.

Once a year, the amount is totaled to determine whether the city has been charging enough. If not, the assessment goes up for the landscape maintenance district.

And while the parks are designed for neighborhood use, anyone in Manteca can use them.