Is Lathrop poised to be the new expansion ground for Silicon Valley?
During a discussion Monday at the Lathrop City Council about the impacts and implications of the State of California’s 200-year levee upgrade mandate and how it would affect development, Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore suggested that there might be a correlation between the rising influx of Bay Area transplants and the need for future Silicon Valley businesses to look east for affordable space to service their growing businesses.
Lathrop has already landed Tesla – the Silicon Valley-based electric car maker that took over the shuttered New United Motors plant in Fremont to keep production of their wildly-popular electric luxury sedan closer to their base of operations.
Lathrop’s proximity to both Interstate 5, Highway 99 and the I-205 corridor leading to the Bay Area makes it attractive to businesses looking to move their products throughout California, and a nearby Union Pacific railroad distribution yard opens up logistics nationwide.
And all of that can be in jeopardy if the State of California does not issue a “finding of adequate progress” to Lathrop and the reclamation districts that surround it when it comes complying with SB5 – the 2007 legislation that required that all levees in California be able to withstand the high waters of a 200-year flood.
So far Lathrop and Manteca have spent nearly $2.8 million to commission studies about the levee and map the floodplain that would affect both communities – money paid for by the cities themselves and development partners that have a vested interest in ensuring that everything works out.
If Lathrop doesn’t get the finding, then development within that floodplain will cease until it can be approved. Known as the “urban level of flood protection,” the finding would affect all of Lathrop since the entire city sits within the flood plain.
Salvatore said that Lathrop and points on the eastern side of the Altamont Pass have become the “affordable” option for Bay Area families who are getting priced out by a market that is meteorically rising thanks to a modern tech boom that made the San Francisco Bay Area one of the hottest job centers in the United States for those looking to get into technology fields.
But that doesn’t just stop with homeowners.
As they learned with Tesla – in an agreement that wasn’t hinted at or announced until after it had been signed – those companies also need space to grow, and with the cost of land and relatively small amount of developable property left in some of those pockets, moving some of their operations to the Central Valley becomes a feasible option.
In the case of Tesla, as Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal pointed out, there are now 350 less vehicles making the commute over the Altamont every day since they’re able to live and work in the Central Valley rather than drive to the plant in Fremont.
That future expansion and the value of that land in terms of economic contribution to San Joaquin County and the region as a whole is a piece of what Lathrop is pushing at the Department of Water Resources to try and secure the $170 million needed to overhaul the levees once the finding of adequate progress has been completed.
A commission studied by UOP about the impacts of investing the money to compliance show that San Joaquin County would lose $2.5 million every year in property tax if development is halted, and the county would benefit over $200 million a year if development continues the way it is in both Manteca and Lathrop.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.