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Mayor leads push for gateway signs for Manteca ‘to project a little bit of wealth’

Mayor Ben Cantu wants Manteca to stop being cheap.

And the place he wants the city to start with is literally designed to serve as a sign for everyone that says Manteca knows how to do things right.

Cantu successfully made his case to reject a staff proposal to spend $6,125 on signs at seven different major entry points so visitors will know that they are welcome in The Family City.

The sign discussion came up at last Tuesday’s council meeting.

Instead of the placing what Cantu called “little tiny blue signs” he wants to go with six or seven signs similar to the design staff resurrected from a 2011 proposal for a 20-foot high, 8½-foot wide sign on East Highway 120 in front of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District office that also included an LED display to promote community events.

At in 2011 Manteca had budgeted $200,000 for signage. That included $40,000 for 44 wayfaring signs with the bulk to go toward the larger sign with an LED billboard.

“Frankly, what we have before us is cheap,” said Cantu said of the $6,125 proposal. “I’ve gone through too many decades of the city doing cheap and being cheap for 20 years.  My position is to do it right the first time even if it costs a little bit of money.”

The seven signs staff had proposed to dovetail in terms of design with 46 wayfaring signs the council in February approved spending $51,910 to create and install were compared in size and looks to ones Lathrop has off Interstate 5 in several spots and Ripon has facing northbound traffic on Highway 99 at the Main Street exit.

After Councilman Gary Singh suggested deploying several of the smaller signs and using larger gateway signs at two or three locations, Cantu dismissed the proposal as ineffective.

“. . .  those little signs there might work great in Ripon and it might work great in Lathrop but in a community of 82,000 that’s trying to project a little bit of wealth and a little bit of good quality of life, I’m afraid that doesn’t do it.”

Cantu said the city needed to spend some money for signs at six or seven locations.

“I’m not talking about $7,000,” Cantu said “I’m talking about some money for a substantial sign that says welcome to Manteca. I’m not in favor of doing any of this unless we do it right.”

Cantu made it clear he didn’t want to do what Ripon or Lathrop has done.

“This is Manteca, this is not Ripon, this is not Lathrop,” Cantu said. “If you’re going to do a sign and then you want it to stand out make it stand out saying this is our town.  That little blue sign is going to get lost. You’re not going to see it.”

 Cantu said the similar sign that Lathrop has to what municipal staff is proposing doesn’t do Manteca’s neighboring city justice.

“When I drive off of I-5 into Lathrop and I see that little tiny sign at that intersection I hope someday that some truck rolls right over it,” Cantu said. “It doesn’t reflect the quality of that community,”

The council ended up directing staff to return at a future date with cost estimates on the larger signs.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email