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Affordable housing is goal of city plan
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There may be duplexes and small-lot homes coming to a neighborhood near you.

And if Manteca implements a program to accomplish that objective the ability of the general public to try and block such housing types may be greatly diminished.

If the City Council concurs today, Manteca will explore implementing a plan that would allow qualifying builders to have a subdivision “approved by right” if 15 percent of the dwelling units are affordable or else they pay an affordable housing fee.

It could mean more duplexes, small-lot family units, multiple family units or other compact housing types would get built in Manteca if those units — and the rest of a proposed subdivision — meet specific standards.

Municipal staff working with the Building Industry Association of the Greater Valley  representing builders in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties has developed a concept that directly implements priority areas in Manteca for:

Permits by Right: This would allow rezoning for significant additional housing capacity on a parcel in specific designated areas of Manteca.

Objective Design and Development Standards: This involves establishing design standards or pre-approved site and architectural plans — a development template for housing — that builders can use to allow non-discretionary permitting.

Expedited Processing: This would speed up approvals and permit processing. It would likely involve establishing programs to streamline and/or consolidate the review process or create a separate process for expedited review of housing projects.

By allowing more homes in an area basically by allowing some to be smaller in nature, it trims construction costs to build the actual dwelling as well as some growth fees that are based on square footage. The biggest advantage is the same amount of infrastructure — streets, sewer and water lines — could accommodate more housing and in turn drive down costs without hurting a builder’s ability to make a profit.

Speeding up the approval process where appropriate saves significant money on the part of developers that have to secure loans to put infrastructure in place as well as buy land. The quicker they can start building, the lower interest costs they will have.

And while developers could arguably profit by just building larger homes, a plan such as Manteca is considering would make it enticing to build smaller homes or duplexes as part of a mix in a new neighborhood if it allows them to slash months off of the approval process.

The council when they meet today at 5:30 p.m. will consider directing staff to apply for a $310,000 Senate Bill 2 grant through the California Department of Housing and Community Development.  The council meets at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The grant would be used to develop a comprehensive set of development guidelines and a checklist. The outcome would be a checklist that could be used to ensure that existing City of Manteca Housing Element Goals can be achieved.

By complying with the provisions of such a checklist qualifying builders could have a choice to either having a subdivision approved by right if 15% of the dwelling units are affordable or pay an affordable housing fee. 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email