If you reside east of Powers Avenue, west of Spreckels Park and south of Yosemite Avenue you’re on the short end of the “environmental justice” yardstick.
The residents in the eastern part of the Powers Tract developed in the 1950s and the Curran Grove neighborhood built in 2001 have been labeled by the California Environmental Protection Agency as a “disadvantaged community.”
That’s the conclusion of state environmental bureaucrats have made based on various data examining how residents within census tracts are being affected by a laundry list of concerns ranging from air pollution, the condition of housing, poverty, housing overcrowding, and whether they reside in a “food desert”
The area mention falls at the 94th percentile on the environmental justice 0 to 100 scale with 0 being the best and 100 being the worst.
The Mayors’ Park, Villa Ticino and Greenview Estates neighborhoods bounded by Louise Avenue, Union Road, Yosemite Avenue and Airport Way comes in at the 85th percentile while the tract with Vintage Estates along Mission Ridge Drive and Southside Park is at the 80th percentile.
The area with Manteca’s most expensive apartments — Paseo Villas — and the subsidized workforce housing virtually next door at Juniper Apartment — ranks 85th.
The area south of Woodward Avenue where most of Manteca’s McMansions and new housing has been built does better at the 75th percentile but its not the best ranking in town. That goes to the area bordered on the north by Louise Avenue, on the east by the Tidewater and Walnut Avenue, on the south by Yosemite Avenue and on the west by Union Road. That tract is the lowest in Manteca at the 63rd percentile.
Why this matters is the state is forcing cities such as Manteca that are doing general plan updates to address environmental justice.
DeNova Planning of El Dorado Hills is being paid more than $200,000 to update the general plan that serves as the municipal blueprint for growth.
The 23-page section devoted to environmental justice is part of the general plan policy sets the General Plan Advisory Committee will discuss when they meet for their 13th meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd.
California law defines environmental justice as: “The fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of all environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”
The city is required to acknowledge conditions that exist in identified disadvantaged communities.
One of the driving factors in determining the ranking of a census tract or neighborhood is air quality. Manteca being part of the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Control District basin is routinely the nation’s worst area when it comes to the level of ozone and particulate matter. It is made worst by being in a virtual bowl surrounded by the Sierra, Tehachapi and Coastal ranges with prevailing winds sending in pollution from the Bay Area to mix with what is generated within the region.
Manteca, as a city, can do little to change the air quality outside of encouraging people to walk, ride share, take public transit, bicycle and pursue growth patterns that reduce trips.
The general plan policy report notes 20.3 percent of the population of San Joaquin County — the narrowest data available — has at one time or another been diagnosed with asthma.
Another measurement is the number of parks per 1,000 residents and proximity to residents. The minimum decreed acceptable by state bureaucrats is three acres per 1,000 residents. Manteca is pushing five acres per 1,000 residents with a park within a quarter of a mile of most residents.
Food insecurity is considered an issue for many in Manteca due to the high cost of housing as well as issues with the working poor and poverty. That said there is no “food desert” — a reference to fresh produce, fruits, meats and such — being available for purchase within a reasonable distance of homes in neighborhoods.
The consultants determined that most housing in Manteca should be in sound condition.
It did note 4.8 percent of the housing in use is “overcrowded.” That’s defended as having more than one person per room excluding kitchens and bathrooms but counting bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and other such areas.
More than three quarters of the overcrowded housing in Manteca are rentals.
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