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Cantu wants bonus bucks to return for new homes
2018 Ray of Hope.jpg
Several of the 70 South San Joaquin Irrigation District employees that assisted with a drive to provide gifts this past Christmas for underprivileged children served by the Ray of Hope pose with some of the items they donated before they were picked up by the non-profit for holiday delivery.

It was perhaps intended as a humorous observation, but Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu certainly struck a chord with his long-time base Tuesday when it was pointed out an effort to bring back bonus bucks — growth fees per home that ranged as much as $5,000 to $7,500 for the council to spend as they wish — would reduce the affordability of new homes.

When it was acknowledged most buyers of new homes in Manteca currently hail from the Bay Area and that reinstituting the fees would drive up the cost of housing, Cantu said “I feel sorry for them.”

It’s been a bone of contention by some in Manteca that the city has benefitted little by growth in terms of new amenities. Part of that is due to growth-related fees being kept artificially low through the 1990s and the first past of the 2000s.

The bonus bucks — shorthand for funds paid to secure sewer allocation certainty over multiple years of a subdivision — was initially proposed by developers to avoid the prospect of 13 builders back in 1999 suing each other due to limited sewer capacity given the treatment plant was nearing capacity at the time. The need to have sewer allocation certainty to secure financing for developing subdivisions went away when the plant expansion was completed and the recession hit.

Bonus bucks were used to pay for half of the Union Road fire headquarters station, install soccer field lights at Woodward and Northgate parks, place traffic signals at Tidewater Bikeway crossings, hired additional police officers and firefighters, and paid for a number of other projects. That is in addition to plugging in general fund budget holes to the tune of $11.9 million over the course of a number of years  to keep service levels up without raising taxes and ultimately to cushion the impact of the recession on municipal services.

Cantu made it clear that he wants to work toward finding a way to bring back bonus bucks to help pay for city amnesties.

Council honors

memory of

Tony Marshall

Mayor Ben Cantu closed Tuesday’s adjourned Manteca City Council meeting in memory of Tony Marshall who was killed earlier in the day in a vehicle accident 

Marshall was a principal and engineering manager for Manteca-based MCR Engineering.

Marshall played a hands-on role in a number of key Manteca projects including the 3300-acre Spreckels Park industrial/commercial complex, Big League Dreams, infrastructure, and numerous residential neighborhoods.

MCR Engineering has designed projects throughout the region including schools, parks, commercial, residential, and agriculture in addition to serving as contract city engineers for Waterford and Hughson. The firm was founded in 1997.

Eat Union High student

drop off irks parent

Work on a new drop-off zone for East Union High can’t happen soon enough for at least one frustrated parent.

In an email the parent noted, “ It is ridiculous that you cannot drop your child off unless you drive down and make an illegal U-turn or drop them off on the main street to cross and hopefully not get hit, which there have been several times children have been hit in the crosswalks in front of the school. When you call the school they won’t do anything . . . Today it  was raining and my son had to be dropped off clear down the street because the wannabe cop and the actual cop was stopping you from pulling in or over to drop your child off in front of the school. It’s a real issue that no one ever wants to come up with a solution for in the near future. There should be no reason the staff parking lot should not be utilized as a safe drop off spot in the morning. If school doesn’t start till 7:26 teachers should be in class by 15 minutes till anyway, why not make it so kids have a safe drop off location until they come up with a new plan. Heck, make a parking drop off right in front where all the trees are. . . .”

 The good news is work will start this spring on a $14 million project to address health and safety issues as well as modernized the EU campus. Included in the project is a reconfigured and expanded student parking lot and vehicular access as well as a new bus drop off and entry from Northgate Drive between a PE field and tennis courts. It would connect with eastern end of the existing parking lot where it meets the main gym.

SSJID staff steps up

to help less fortunate

Kudos go to South San Joaquin Irrigation District employees that went the extra mile.

SSJID team members partnered with the Manteca Police Department/Child Protection Services program to benefit the  Ray of Hope organization in donating gifts for needy children in the area at Christmas,

SSJID staff donated presents for 70 children, with each child getting the opportunity to open multiple gifts for Christmas.     

Each year, San Joaquin County Charities holds a Super Bowl Raffle to benefit various charities within San Joaquin County. 

One of the SSJID directors, Ralph Roos, has a personal connection with Haven of Peace Women’s mission in French Camp, as his mother played a significant role in the shelter’s beginnings.  As a result, many SSJID staff purchase raffle tickets to support the shelter each year.  It just so happens SSJID employee Dawn Driesen, the engineering department administrative secretary, won one of the grand prizes, including  tickets to the Super Bowl and $2,000 cash.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email