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Government rules frustrate Mayor Cantu
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

The best — and most telling quote — of the past month when it comes to how local government is forced to dance to state-imposed rules even when it comes to trying to make it possible for Manteca residents with the means not to be at the mercy of a PG&E created power emergency came from Mayor Ben Cantu.

Cantu was growing frustrated at last week’s special City Council meeting about how the city couldn’t act “now” to change rules that would allow for more efficient and logical placement of whole house generators to deal with PG&E’s warning they will pull the plug on power to Manteca for 2 to 5 days when certain conditions exist for wildfires along the main transmission line that slashes through the city.

City legal counsel Don Lupal had said what action the council decided needed to be done to accommodate 60 or so Manteca households interested in investing in whole house generators by allowing them within the 5-yard side yard setback required a zoning change. That process can take up to six months.

Cantu responded that wasn’t quick enough given the emergency situation. City Manager Tim Ogden noted under state law since PG&E has yet to actually created a public health and safety emergency by cutting power for 2 to 5 days making it an “urgent situation” as opposed to an emergency.

Cantu — understanding what the city could and couldn’t do — noted “it isn’t working for 99 percent of the community” that can’t understand why the city doesn’t make a change now. He said people with medical conditions that rely on devices powered by electricity can’t do what they need to prepare for a PG&E created emergency the for-profit company has said it could create at any time instead of needing to wait six months before they can legally place generators in their side yard.

The mayor said people want us to “take care of an emergency today, not six months down the road.” He finally realized the city lacked authority to act faster while noting it doesn’t make sense to most people including himself.

“I can’t argue with government, “Cantu said. “I could but I won’t get anywhere.” 

Town hall meeting tonight

on how residents can prepare

for PG&E imposed emergency

Manteca plans on how to deal with an emergency PG&E may create if the for-profit utility cuts power for 2 to 5 days to reduce its liability when extreme wildfire conditions exist will be shared tonight with the public during a town hall meeting.

The meeting takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. at the fire station at 290 Powers Ave. The town hall meeting will be live streamed on the city’s Facebook page.

City officials will discuss their preparation for what PG&E is dubbing the “Public Safety Power Shutoff”. A question and answer period will follow the presentation.