Delicato Vineyards has opened a second front in their bid to stop City of Manteca growth near their winery.
The world’s fifth winery has filed paperwork with San Joaquin County Superior Court to challenge the City Council’s approval of the general plan update and certification of the final environmental impact report for the document designed to guide municipal growth.
The filing — which has been assigned to Judge Erin Guy Castillo for a case management conference on Feb. 14, 2024 — is in addition to the winery’s collection of 7,429 signatures of registered City of Manteca voters to force a referendum on the adopted general plan update in the March 5, 2024 election.
The San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters has until Sept. 21 to verify whether they are enough valid signatures — 4,733 are needed — to trigger a citywide vote.
Delicato representativeness have characterized the court filing as a “back up” measure in the event that there are inadequate valid signatures.
That would be a highly unlikely outcome given the signatures that were gathered in 20 days are 53.1 percent more than what is needed under state law. Referendums are triggered when there are valid signatures on a petition that represent 10 percent of a jurisdiction’s registered voters.
Typically, such petition drives for statewide ballot measure have a rejection rate of 15 to 20 percent.
The Sept. 21 date is also the last time Delicato could theoretically withdraw the petitions if somehow the city and the winery are able to work out a solution.
Once signatures are verified and a petition meets the legal threshold, it is locked into going in the ballot.
The court filing by the San Fransico firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger — that specializes in environmental, municipal and public agency, and local ballot measures among other legal areas — is likely to be just the start.
An existing project already before the city for approval will bring a number of 1,472 homes proposed to within a half mile of Delicato orchards, vineyards, and open land they have set aside for land disposal of winery wastewater.
Developers behind the project have recirculated the environmental impact report in a bid to double down on making sure they have met or exceeded every legal requirement in a bid to make it more likely to withstand a possible legal challenge.
Although the general plan update is now being held in abeyance pending the outcome of possible referendum, the residential projects can still proceed as amendments to the city’s exiting general plan.
Such action — if approved by the city — is likely to trigger more legal filings by the winery.
Land disposal of agricultural processing waste water — legal under state laws — can generate smells that urban residents often find objectional.
The city, for its part, contends the general plan passes state muster. Every state regulatory agency involved in the process — from air quality to transportation to agriculture — had input.
Delicato, though, believes the general plan sets the stage for incompatible uses — housing and agriculture processing — to conflict.
Winery representatives had indicated they believe the 24-hour operation that involves lights and noise will create issues if homes are built too close to the winery.
Delicato’s general arguments against the general plan is that is allows to too much growth, will generate too much truck traffic, and will creates issues for schools among other things.