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Landscape upkeep costs $830K
Annual parcel fees range from $15.68 to $1,152.45
Union Ranch East homeowners placed for sale signs in front of their homes as a protest of the proposed LMD for their neighborhood. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Roughly one out of every three housing units in Manteca is part of landscape maintenance districts that have a combined assessment of more than $830,000.

Assessments range from a low of $15.68 per year to $1,152.45 per year.

The annual assessments are being imposed during Tuesday’s Manteca City Council meeting for the 36 existing landscape maintenance districts (LMD). In addition, the Union Ranch East LMD is up for possible formation Tuesday with a scheduled tabulation of parcel votes. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

There are no two landscape maintenance districts alike. All include common landscaping and sound wall maintenance. Two include maintaining grass beneath power lines as a greenbelt, and four include neighborhood park maintenance. At least five include bike path maintenance and future repaving costs. In addition there is one private landscape maintenance district in Manteca plus several homeowners associations that do their own assessments for common area upkeep.

The $1,525 assessment is on a 16-home neighborhood originally known as Dutra Farms Northeast Zone near Airport Way and the 120 Bypass. The cost is significantly higher due to the small number of units.

Right behind it at $832.09 annual assessment is the Bianchi Ranch Unit 4 single family homes and Paseo Apartments. The assessment covers landscaping and sound walls plus segments of the Atherton Drive, Van Ryn Avenue, and Wellington Drive bike path.

On the low end at $15.68 a month is Del Webb at Woodbridge. The 1,424 lots - about half are still owned by Pulte Homes - pay for landscaping along Union Road and Airport Way. The monthly homeowners fee covers interior common landscaping upkeep as well as park maintenance.

The 7,289 homes subject to LMD charges are typically in neighborhoods built after 1990. They also all have landscaped perimeters with sound walls.

Prior to LMDs, developments built in the 1970s and 1980s simply had sound walls set up against concrete sidewalks with occasional tree wells. A typical profile is what is seen along Louise Avenue west of Highway 99.

The current city policy of requiring landscaping with sound walls and the formation of LMDs came from an outcry of newer residents such as those who bought in the Cowbell Station neighborhood south of Sierra High in the mid-1990s.

Fishback Road was proceeding forward at the time as a four-lane street. The city required the developer to put in the segment immediately south of Wawona Street. It consisted of sound wall, sidewall and a wide expanse of asphalt and nothing else.

Homeowners were irked at the proliferation of what they dubbed “Manteca canyons.” That prompted the requirement of landscaping and nicer looking sound walls. The cost of maintenance and upkeep was collapsed into LMDs that state law allows to be formed for such purposes.

Without the LMDs, the city’s general fund would be on the hook for the annual $830,000 cost for the upkeep of the 36 existing LMDs.