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Mayor raises possibility as council OKs $99K study to replace ‘Taco Bell’ civic center built during 1970s
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Are there two more council positions in Manteca’s future?

Mayor Ben Cantu last month dropped a hint that he — or someone else — may eventually push for an expanded city council as Manteca grows during a council discussion that led to the awarding of a $99,500 contract for LDA Partners to plan for a new city hall complex.

Cantu said he believes the next city hall complex needs to have council chambers to accommodate significantly more seating for the public. Those same chambers, Cantu said, need to be designed to accommodate seven council members.

Manteca currently has five council members. The city, like other local jurisdictions in California, faces the real prospect that they may have to go to district elections for council members — but not the mayor — to assure that all ethnic groups have a fair shot at being elected to office.

Both Stockton with a population of 310,000 and Modesto with a population of 214,000 have seven-member councils including the mayor’s position. Manteca now has 85,000 residents. The city is on pace to top 100,000 people by 2025.

Cantu, at one point at the Dec. 17 council meeting, said he expects the next city hall Manteca builds to accommodate a city of 200,000 and to have architecture that reflects a municipality of that stature.

Manteca has $13.5M already

set aside for  government

facilities from growth fees

The chances of something coming of the study this time around — as opposed to the last effort that was dropped in 2004 — is the fact the city has $13.5 million currently in growth fees collected specifically for government facilities. Given that other government facilities built in recent years such as the animal shelter and vehicle maintenance facility have been paid off, the city projects it will have $17 million in the government facilities fee account by the end of 2020.

The solution for the city hall facility plan advanced in 2004 had a price tag of $34 million.

Cantu said he has been approached by people irked that the city council could be spending money on other needs such as street repairs.

The money — like all fees imposed on growth for specific purposes — can only be used to pay for purposes it was collected for in the first place. That is not a council restriction but rather state law that has been backed up by court rulings. The law prohibiting the intermingling of fees collected for a specific purpose was the outgrowth of the taxpayers’ revolt that led to passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.

LDA Partners will be looking at five different sites — including the current location at 1001 West Center Street as well as a location possibly in downtown. They also will assess space needs for a growing city as well as look at possible creative financing.

Creative financing could mean leasing space on the ground floor for commercial and restaurants as well as possible space on above ground floors for offices. Other cities have “overbuilt” office space on purpose to use revenue from leases to help pay off any bonds needed to finance the project. When space needed for the city increases due to growth, the lease space is converted into municipal use

Moorhead, who favors having the ultimate solution involve repurposing the current site given the city already owns the land, favors a more modern-looking complex as well as one that is more efficient and designed from the start to accommodate the public and embrace technology.

She said the Civic Center’s extensive use of slump stone block makes “it look like Taco Bell.”

Moorhead pointed to the police lobby as being “scary.” She has been critical of the police lobby for years noting it is extremely small with perhaps the footprint of two old Fotomat booths, unfriendly to the public, and lacking basic protection for employees such as bullet-proof glass.

She favored relocating the dog park and replacing it with a bigger and better facility elsewhere so that the civic center site can be fully utilized.

Cantu, for his part, said he only favors using the current site for city hall improvements on a temporary basis. He strongly favors a downtown site. During his unsuccessful 2010 council race, Cantu actually prepared a schematic that had a multi-story city hall and police complex on the former Manteca Bean C. site across from the Manteca Transit Center and behind the former Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. & Brickyard Oven Restaurant.

Councilman Gary Singh agreed that city hall downtown could help pump new life into the central district as has happened in other city.

Councilman Dave Breitenbucher also wants the needs assessment to include joint training facilities for police and firefighters.

Staff noted the city is currently paying $160,000 a year to lease office space for city hall functions in addition to utilizing portable buildings on the Civic Center campus.

The exact sites LDA Partners will assess include the existing municipal campus location and up to four other sites.

In September a staff report seeking authorization to seek proposals from firms to do the necessary assessment and initial planning identified three potential alternate sites.

They were:

*Placing it at Union Road Park next to the city corporation yard that is adjacent to the golf course and Morezone Baseball Field.

*Repurposing Library Park and Wilson Park.

*Using the city owned parking lot that is in the form of a triangle behind the south side of the 200 block of West Yosemite Avenue and west of South Maple Street that dead ends at the Tidewater Bikeway. The request for proposals noted that the parking lot location would require a parking structure.

The first phase of the current civic center was opened in 1978. It replaced the original city hall completed in 1924 in the 100 block of Sycamore Avenue. The two block building that is used today for private offices served the city’s needs for 54 years.

Cantu, noting the original phase of the current city hall and subsequent additions were inadequate for space needs that existed at the time they were completed wants the next city hall to be built with the intent to effectively handle municipal needs for the next 50 years without compromising operations.



To contact Dennis Wyatt, email