Mike Azevedo and his family moved to Manteca three years ago because it wasn’t Hayward.
But he fears with the development patterns he sees south of the 120 Bypass Manteca is in danger of losing its appeal of not being Hayward.
Azevedo was one of a number of people commenting on the proposed general plan update during a joint Manteca City Council/Manteca Planning Commission workshop on Tuesday.
“It’s looking more and more like you’re driving through Hayward,” Azevedo noted.
And while he understood being able to take a short drive to pass by almond orchards is likely to become a thing of the past as Manteca grows, he had several suggestions that could help Manteca retain its character and appeal.
*Instead of walled off corridors dominated by sound walls along major arterials such as Union Road, Main Street, and Airport Way as they head south of Atherton Drive, lining them with native oak trees to provide shade over bike paths.
*Giving residents — new and old — a sense of where they live by replacing the grassy slopes of storm retention basins in neighborhood parks with native plants. In doing so it would also reduce water use significantly.
*Developing bike paths that allow people to bicycle easier around South Manteca as well as better connections to bike paths north of the 120 Bypass.
Azevedo said he sees a number of families bicycling “round and round” neighborhood parks due to the lack of bike paths.
Azevedo’s observations mirror those brought up nearly two decades ago during the last general plan update.
Residents wanted something better than what they call “Manteca canyons” — major arterials such as Louise Avenue and Union Road where the city created four lane roadways the gutter, curb, and sidewalk abutting against masonry walls broken up every so often by cutouts in the concrete that allowed for trees to be planted that would have their growth stunted.
They also wanted a more robust bike path/bicycle lane system to build off the initial 3.4-mile Tidewater Bikeway the city developed in 1998 along a stretch of the former Tidewater Southern Railway right-of-way.
The result of citizen efforts back two decades ago when they expressed their wants and desires during the last series of general plan update workshops that followed the community Vision 2020 Task Force effort to provide a game plan for what they wanted Manteca to be when it reached the year 2020 resulted in the current landscaping and sound wall standards you see along major roads in South Manteca.
The development of a 14-mile bike path “loop system” of Manteca anchored with the Tidewater Bikeway slashing through the center got underway. Parts of that loop now in place includes segments along Atherton Drive, the connector via Van Ryn with the Tidewater and three legs — Spreckels Avenue and Wellington Avenue that allow users to access employment centers, stores and Woodward Park as well as Union Ranch/Del Webb that takes it to the edge of Airport Way in the north.
Councilman Gary Singh noted that loop is waiting on development to complete segments along Atherton Drive as well as in the east along McKinley Avenue and parts in the north running west of — or along — Airport Way. That is in lieu of the city paying for the work.
The city back in 2003 also adopted a bicycle master plan along with the general plan update.
In 2020 the council accepted an update of that master plan that they paid $240,000 to have done. Dubbed the “Active Transportation Plan”, it identified the need for $35 million in sidewalk improvements, $23 million in bike lanes and bike routes, and $3.3 million worth of intersection improvements in developed areas of Manteca. That comes to $61 million.
Of that $12.1 million worth of sidewalk work is deemed a high priority, as is $5.7 million of bicycle related upgrades and $1.2 million worth of intersection improvements.
Many of the identified upgrades can be funded when adjoining vacant land develops such as extending separated bike paths along Atherton Drive and sidewalks along Woodward Avenue.
Priority projects involve Union Road, Center Street, the area around Sequoia Elementary School, Yosemite Avenue and the Edison Street/Main Street intersection.
The fact Manteca has an active transportation fund will make it easier to go after federal, state, and Measure K funding needed to implement improvements.
That said they have not looked at other ways of potentially funding such improvements.
At least one group of developers — local builders led by Toni Raymus and Bill Filios — agree with some of Azevedo’s observations. They have designed a series of neighborhood parks connected by separated bike paths in the 1,301-home Griffin Park project that has broken ground along South Main Street.
That project will include bike lanes along Main Street south of Woodward Avenue.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com