Dave Breitenbucher will spend 2½ hours today doing what he does on average three to four times a month — volunteering as part of an Inner City Action outreach team working on a one-on-one basis to get the homeless off Manteca’s streets.
Usually, he spends a full three hours but today there is a Sierra High water polo practice. And as coach he needs to be there.
Then at 6 p.m. he’s heading over to the golf course and Chez Sheri’s on the second floor of the clubhouse. There he will be kicking off his re-election campaign for a second term on the Manteca City Council with a fundraiser that has at-the-door $50 tickets for individuals or $75 per couple.
That effectively narrows down the field of prominent mayor candidates in the Nov. 8 election to two — incumbent Ben Cantu and Councilman Gary Singh.
Breitenbucher said he does not plan on endorsing any candidate for mayor.
The retired Manteca firefighter said he abandoned his run for mayor at the urging of those that felt he was doing an effective job as councilman and didn’t want to risk losing his voice on the council.
Had Breitenbucher run for mayor and lost he would have been off the council as his council term expires this year. Singh, on the other hand should he lose, still has two years left on his current council team.
“We need to continue to work to get the city’s finances in order,” Breitenbucher said.
His race for the council will be much different than in 2018. That is because this is the first year the city will have district elections. Instead of a citywide vote determine if he’ll get a second term, it will be just voters within District 3.
District 3 is bounded on the north by Louise Avenue, on the east by Highway 99, and on the south by the 120 Bypass.
The western boundary starts at the 120 Bypass and Union Road, jogs to the east on Wawona Street and then swings north on El Portal for a block before shifting slightly to the northwest onto El Capitan. It then heads east on Nevada Street for a block and then heads north on Walnut Avenue before turning east on Alameda and then heading north along the Tidewater to Louise Avenue.
District 3 contains all of pre-1965 Manteca that includes downtown and Manteca High.
Homeless, road upkeep
& city finances being
in order are his big issues
Breitenbucher said besides righting the city’s finances he also wants to continue placing a high priority working on addressing the city’s homeless problems as well as finding a way to step up road maintenance.
If elected, he has a high expectation that any council subcommittee regarding downtown will include his participation given downtown is entirely within his district.
“A lot of people want downtown to be like Lodi, Livermore, or Pleasanton,” Breitenbucher said. “What it needs to be is (the best version of) Manteca.”
By that Breitenbucher noted downtown has a lot of attributes — and issues — other downtowns many seem to covet. There are a lot of viable businesses already in place that cater to ethnic markets.
At the same time issues — such as the train tracks that slash through downtown at an angle — create problems that together cities don’t have especially since the number of trains are again surpassing 40 a day.
Breitenbucher said a number of changes the city has made to downtown rules and a stepped up enforcement aimed at forcing owners of problematic properties to fix them up or sell them has already started to change the tide.
He noted a comedy club, flooring showroom, and brewery are already in the works. The Veranda — a major events center — opened earlier this year in the former home of Kelly Brothers Brewing Co. & Brickyard Oven Restaurant that was shuttered for 12 years.
The councilman believes within 15 to 20 years downtown — driven by the market with the city doing what it can in the way of rules and such — will be a much more vibrant venue for business, dining, and community events.
Believes based on what he
sees as a volunteer that
only a 50-bed shelter is needed
As for the homeless issues that Breitenbucher noted are citywide with the bulk of the problems in District 3 when it comes to illegal encampments and such, he believes his volunteer work gives him a perspective that others don’t have.
“It was a calling from God,” Breitenbucher said of what drove home to be a volunteer reaching out to the homeless to steer them toward programs or helping connect them with families.
Breitenbucher said his work on outreach volunteer teams in which he has played a role in helping get homeless off the street into mental health facilities if needed, drug rehab or to start working with Inner City Action to get back on track to support themselves by paying for their own housing gives him a more thorough understanding of the problem that can allow him to make the best possible decisions as a member of the council when it comes to addressing homeless problems.
He noted the answers needed are just as varied as the homeless themselves.
Breitenbucher noted there are those who are on drugs, have mental health problems, are willing to accept help to get off the streets, and those who are — for want of a better description — too stubborn to follow the rules and elect to stay where they are at.
It is why the solution the city needs to pursue, according to Breitenbucher, goes beyond just a resource center. It includes stepped up enforcement and other efforts as well.
He continues not to be a fan of the South Main Street site for a homeless resource center. While he vows to continue looking for a better site, he said if the council ultimately builds a facility on the site that he will work hard to make it work.
Backing up that is his efforts to convince other council members the largest resource center/homeless shelter he believes the city needs is 50 beds.
The city is planning for solutions to accommodate the resource center on South Main Streety has two options — one with 126 beds and one for 299 beds.
That was based on the 2017 point in time count that showed 218 unsheltered homeless in Manteca.
Breitenbucher said that while the latest count conducted earlier this year has yet to be released he noted preliminary figures put the count between 130 and 150 people.
That reflects Inner City Action’s estimates. It also shows that instead of increasing in terms of numbers, the homeless problem in Manteca has dropped by at least 25 percent.
And while the count may show progress, Breitenbucher noted the best Manteca can work for is to reduce and minimize homeless issues.
“The homeless problem will never go completely away,” he said.
Breitenbucher said Manteca needs a change.
He hopes that happens with a new face in District 4. Incumbent Jose Nuno is not seeking re-election. Former councilman Mike Morowit is among those running.
“I’d like to get a chance to work with Mike (on the council),” Breitenbucher said.
Breitenbucher was the only carryover from the 2018 council that was adamantly opposed to Miranda Lutzow being appointed city manager arguing she lacked the experience. Current council member Charlie Halford was elected after the appointment was made.
Breitenbucher has repeatedly noted many issues the city is working to address developed under Lutzow’s leadership.
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