Mayor Ben Cantu is making the development of an effective affordable housing program one of his main objectives.
Earlier this month during council committee assignments he expressed a desire to establish a city committee to develop affordable housing strategies.
It will be a daunting task that has numerous facets including what is meant by affordable housing.
As both council members Debby Moorhead and Jose Nuño have pointed out, the at-market homes now being built in Manteca are affordable to people west of the Altamont Pass being squeezed out of the Bay Area housing market with significantly larger Bay Area checks but aren’t as affordable to those relying on paychecks from jobs in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Complicating any endeavor is the fact the tool that helped Manteca develop more than 450 subsidized housing units ranging from three low-income apartments complexes including two dedicated exclusively to seniors to workforce apartments and an entire neighborhood of homes that allowed low-income families to buy via a silent second mortgage that was forgiven after 15 years is now history.
Twenty-percent of all redevelopment agency bond proceeds between 1989 and 2008 went to affordable housing that also included more than 50 first-time buyers consisting of lower income families to help them buy a home, as well as more than 500 low- to-moderate income senior homeowners that had forgivable loans to help make critical repairs such as new roofs.
The state pulled the plug on RDAs as part of the California Legislature’s strategy to pump up state revenues during the Great Recession to avoid the laying off of state workers. The last RDA housing funds Manteca has are being used to build 48 low-income senior apartments now under construction at Cottage Avenue adjacent to the Highway 99 overcrossing.
While subsidized housing is especially challenging due to the need to come up with large sums of money to underwrite such projects, trying to get more at-market housing options that are affordable is equally challenging.
That’s because there are roughly 7,000 housing units already approved for Manteca of which most have legal entitlements to build homes on larger lots that tend to be less affordable than those on smaller lots. In order to pursue lower cost homes on approved lots the city would have to come up with incentives.
Flood protection fee
will kick fees on some
new homes past
the $63,000 mark
Reducing growth fees as well as water and sewer connections that run in excess of $45,000 on new homes would be problematic at best. Those fees are needed to pay for services needed for growth so it doesn’t burden existing residents. The legal ramifications are even trickier.
That doesn’t into account expressed desires for more civic amenities that will require higher fees. Then there is the issue of flood protection fees thousands of proposed homes in southwest Manteca will need to pay due to the need to pay for 200-year flood protection. That alone will increase building fees for homes being built in the impacted area by more than $18,000 or 40 percent to push the average fees that must be paid per home past the $63,000 mark even before the foundation is poured.
The city could do what larger cities such as Milwaukee are doing and require new single home developments that have yet to be approved to include duplexes, triplexes, and cluster housing to provide more affordable at-market housing options.
Judging by the reaction of neighbors in the summer of 2017 that killed Richland Communities’ plan to build at-market affordable housing on the 184 acres where the 30,000-square-foot Hat Mansion stands off Pillsbury Road in southeast Manteca such a move would be extremely dicey. The wrath the plan generated prompted developers of the proposed 1,500-home Griffin Park neighborhood bordering Main Street south of Woodward Avenue to quietly drop plans for smaller lots around 5,000 square feet in one of their envisioned neighborhoods even though it wasn’t as “radical” — the term objecting neighbors used — as what Richland proposed.
A breakdown of what Richland proposed for the 184-acre project was as follows:
u158 lots would be 65 by 90 feet for a lot size of 5,850 square feet.
u224 lots would be 55 by 90 feet for a lot size of 4,950 square feet.
u242 lots would be 47 by 90 feet for a lot size of 4,330 square feet.
u106 lots would be 35 by 80 feet for a lot size of 2,800 square feet. They would have alley access for garages and would likely be similar to projects in Oakdale and elsewhere that use concrete instead of asphalt for alleys and have landscaping.
u300 plus or minus townhouse units would be built on 25.8 acres for a density of 11.6 units per acre.
Neighbors argued it would devalue their nearby homes, destroy the character of their neighborhoods, make traffic intolerable, and could lead to many becoming rentals and attracting what they feared could be undesirable residents.
Apartments per unit
cost roughly the same
to build as a smaller house
Manteca’s relative dearth of apartments is equally problematic.
Managers for two of the four most expensive complexes in Manteca shared that many of their units are rented by people who aren’t related. That helps take the $1,600 monthly cost of a two bedroom apartment down to $800 per wage earner.
Getting rents to pencil out lower is tricky given Manteca’s relative shortage of new apartment construction that is compounded by the difficulty in securing financing and the fact once all costs of developing a complex are factored in including fees, it costs virtually the same to build an apartment unit in Manteca as a 1,800-square-foot home.
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