Manteca hasn’t even put the finishing touches on a general plan update designed to enable the city to more than double in size to 206,368 people but Mayor Ben Cantu says the city should start thinking now about making a push to accommodate growth within at least a half mile of Jack Tone Road.
Cantu on Tuesday said the city needs to start making plans sooner than later to make it possible to extend wastewater and water lines eastward toward Jack Tone Road to allow future growth to occur.
His comments came during a combined City Council/Planning Commission general plan update workshop after Dee Wackerly — a rural resident in the Fig Avenue and Peach neighborhoods in the crosshairs of the city’s southward push — spoke.
“Is there a reason Manteca has to compete with Modesto to be a big city?” Wackerly asked in reference to land uses in the proposed general plan update including those designated for urban reserve residential that have the potential to take Manteca to 228,608 people.
Modesto, as California’s 18th largest city, currently has 219,294 residents.
Councilman Charlie Halford noted Manteca cannot grow farther to the west due to it bordering Lathrop. To the north it would be stopped by Stockton most likely at French Camp Road.
Heading south, the 200-year floorplan will be a natural barrier unless someone spends significant money that Halford said would require spending a dollar amount with a “lot of zeros” to upgrade both the Stanislaus and San Joaquin levees.
That leaves Manteca only one direction to grow after the next 20 years or so — east.
It vas noted if the area is not developed by Manteca, some other jurisdiction — Stockton, the county through a development possibly like Mountain House, or possibly Ripon — would likely do so.
Cantu: City is ‘here to
plan for the future’
“The city itself does not develop land,” Cantu said. “We are here to plan for the future.”
Cantu added a building moratorium, unless there is an overwhelming legal justification such as insufficient wastewater or water capacity, can’t be imposed.
Halford noted moratoriums almost always make housing even more scarce given it drives up prices to rent or buy even further across the board.
“We do have an obligation by the state to build housing,” Community Development Services Director Chris Erias noted.
That’s due to state legislation put in place to counter the state’s acute — and growing — housing shortage.
However, that only applies to areas within Manteca’s own jurisdiction or city limits.
The city is pursuing a general plan update to guide growth for the next 20 years that includes land that is not a part of the city but rather in Manteca’s planning area. The city is assigning potential uses to that land based on the assumption it is logical to annex it to the city.
That includes areas identified as urban reserve typically earmarked for development beyond 20 years plus land left in an agricultural designation.
But as critics point out why include large swaths of agricultural land in the city’s planning area unless the intent is to eventually annex and develop it?
Such was the case with areas south of the 120 Bypass several general plans ago that were designated as agriculture but has since been annexed to the city and ground broken to build thousands of homes.
The proposed general plan runs Manteca’s planning area north to French Camp Road with the northeast corner at French Camp Road where it meets Prescott Road.
It also takes the planning area to within a half mile of Jack Tone Road along Louise Avenue and East Highway 120.
City laying the foundation for
large scale growth to the east
In doing so it creates a large swath of land from Highway 99 to French Camp Road within ¾ of a mile or less of Jack Tone Road.
Why this is crucial is simple. Developers for years have told the city developing areas just to the northeast and east of the exiting city limits is problematic at best due to fairly small farm parcels hundreds of rural homes often on a half of an acre or less along roads such as Northland, Southland, Austin, Cottage, and Castle to name a few.
But the eastern limits of the planning area as proposed has parcels large enough that the economies of development would make it financially feasible to extend what powers growth — wastewater and water lines.
Wackerly and her neighbors for years have lamented the general plan process basically denies them any effective way of stopping growth from swallowing up their rural neighborhoods as more credence is given to the vision of developers that Manteca helps make policy through the general plan process.
Cantu has pulled no punches. He routinely has told critics — especially those in rural areas adjoining the city limits — that growth is essentially inevitable and that it is the city’s responsibility to make sure it is done right.
And more than once he has told critics that the roadways and growth the city is planning for will happen long after he and rural residents who are opposed to it are dead.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org