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Community Development Director Showerman resigning; creates another high level city vacancy
The 30,000-square-foot Hat Mansion is located in southeast Manteca. - photo by Bulletin file photo

What is literally the most high profile house in Manteca — the 30,000-square-foot mansion — could continue standing for years to come while being surrounded by affordable housing.

Richland Communities is making its third run at coming up with an acceptable development plan for 184 acres in southeast Manteca between Pillsbury Road and Sedan Avenue so that they can annex it to the city.

This time around the affordable housing — basically at-market homes with lot footprints of 4,000 square feet or less — is in the center of the property instead of backing up to existing homes on larger lots.

The odds are it will get a much better reception at the council level than the previous proposal that a past council swatted down after protests from neighbors mainly because there are now two council members with a strong commitment to affordable housing — Councilman Jose Nuno and Mayor Ben Cantu.

The wildcard this time might be the mansion.

It was deemed too expense for Richland to convert into a clubhouse surrounded by a golf course for the first pitch they made — an age-restricted community similar to Del Webb at Woodbridge in north Manteca and Tru-Living now being built in east Manteca west of Cottage Avenue on Louise Avenue.

Tearing it down is not an inexpensive undertaking.

The proposal is now to sell the mansion back to the man who built it — wine grape broker Michael Hat. It would have modest grounds  while the nearly 180 acres he planted in wine grapes will be replaced with homes.

The three-story home has a wine cellar, elevator, a 25-seat theater, tennis court and 20- by-80 foot swimming pool. Completed in 1995, the home also has a 36-car parking garage underneath it. Material used in the interior design includes Brazilian cherry wood, Douglas fir, limestone, granite, marble and custom made stainless steel doors. It has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. Basically it is the ultimate McMansion.

And if this plan succeeds Manteca is likely to be the only place in the Northern San Joaquin Valley where tract houses are across the street from a home large enough to contain 20 of them under its roof. 

It would be an interesting effect.

Regardless of the configuration of lot sizes that get advanced, Richland may have created an interesting challenge for the current council that has made it clear they want more affordable housing that means smaller lots and smaller homes.

Out of the gate you mention the world “affordable” to most people and they immediately think “low income”. In reality when you talk about at-market affordable homes they are basically homes that are more affordable than the typical tract home being built in Manteca. That means people still have to qualify to buy the homes on their own without any government subsidies.

Typically such projects rev up nearby residents to denounce them. They claim they draw “the wrong elements”, are a haven for crime, will increase traffic (what new development doesn’t), drop their property values, overcrowded schools and do everything negative that’s possible short of causing locust to swoop down and devour all vegetation for miles around.

If Richland took out affordable housing they’d lose a big leverage with Cantu who has made it clear Manteca has enough standard tract homes approved and that the city needs more affordable housing. 

The quandary is simple. Richland needs to annex to develop. This last election two of the candidates that won made a big deal about affordable housing being a top priority. There was also a mention for the need for more executive-style housing to mix up the offerings in Manteca. And the last time around nearby residents packed the council meeting to shoot the project down after it passed the Manteca Planning Commission.

Turning down Richland when they’ve proposed a two-for-one — affordable housing and the ultimate executive-style housing — might be more than a little tricky politically.

Showerman stepping

down as head of



One thing is for sure, Community Development Director Greg Showerman won’t be involved with helping determine the fate of the third Richland proposal.

Showerman on Friday submitted his resignation as Community Development Director.

It comes on the heels of Finance Director Jeri Tejeda being put on paid administrative leave by City Manager Tim Ogden who in turn was put on paid administrative leave by the City Council.

That means it will be up to Acting City Manager Miranda Lutzow to likely appoint an acting community development director and depending how long it takes for the council to address a concern raised about Ogden she might even be appointing the permanent replacement.

Lutzow replaced Joe Kriskovich earlier this year as the city’s human resource director after he was placed on paid administrative leave.

Musical chairs around the time a city manager is put on administrative leave is nothing new for Manteca.

The last time that happened was in November of 2016 when then City Manager Elena Reyes was placed on paid administrative leave. The council made Showermnan acting city manager. Reyes had plucked Showerman from public works where he was the deputy director to work with her as a second administrative assistant.

Within a week of Reyes taking over as city manager, she told the council the job was essentially too much for her and that she needed immediate help in the form of a deputy city manager and a second administrative assistant.

That is when Reyes pulled Showerman from the Public Works Department on what was supposed to have been a temporary assignment until Reyes was able to conduct a search and hire a permanent deputy city manager. That created a staffing issue for Public Works that was juggling a number of major street upgrade projects, two interchange projects, modernization of the wastewater treatment plant digesters, putting in place a food to fuel system, recycled wastewater plan, ground water sustainability planning, moving forward with updating the city’s storm system, building a solar farm at the wastewater treatment plant, as well as day to day business which also includes work involved with new development. 

A month later on Aug. 31, 2017 Frederic Clark— considered by his peers to be calm, level-headed and professional — abruptly resigned as community development director after agreeing to stay on after his retirement as a consultant until a replacement was found penning a scathing letter slamming Reyes’ management style.

That is when Reyes brought in Jeff Hightower who has just recently retired from a similar position in Riverbank to serve as the interim Community Development Director. Like Clark, Hightower under California Public Employees Retirement System rules could only work for so many days in a fiscal year as a consultant with a government agency without jeopardizing his pension.

After Showerman was appointed as acting city manager he hired Jodie Estarziau as police chief and Kyle Shipherd as fire chief. 

Showerman, who had applied for Clark’s job before being tapped as acting city manager, eventually was appointed to serve as community development director while he was still city manager. 

Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

Downtown dust clouds

 &wrong way drivers

The dust clouds gracing East Yosemite Avenue the past couple of days will be history in a few weeks when paving is completed.

The most daunting problem — and complaint that’s circulating — are those westbound on East Yosemite Avenue entering the detour zone as it approaches Powers Avenue.

Three different people have seen eastbound vehicles go to the left of the large electronic arrow that directs drivers to the right by taking the center turn lane and end up going into the direct path of cars going the opposite direction.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email