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Harris: ‘I’ve been ignored for 3 years’
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

Marty Harris has a point.

And so does Bill Filios.

Harris’ involves what he sees as the folly of the city developing land uses for growth in southwest Manteca before making public what the plans are to protect the area against a 200-year flood as mandated by state law.

Filios’ zeroes in on public and even elected officials’ perception of commercial development in the Age of Internet shopping.

Both made their points at Tuesday’s joint Planning Commission and City Council meeting to discuss the preferred land use plan for the state mandated general plan update.

The question is whether anyone is listening.

Harris was the most strident.

“I’ve been ignored for three years,”  said the rural South Manteca resident who has been pushing the city to reveal precise plans for 200-year flood protection. He routinely backs up his remarks with extensive letters to the council and planning commission.

His concern — and that of fellow  neighbors and farmers — is born out of what 200-year flood protection will do to those south of the envisioned and more muscular cross levee that will be south of Woodward Avenue somewhere and run from the San Joaquin River to a point somewhere east of Union Road. Their argument, that holds water, is that they would be hit with higher flood water in a 200-year flood with the new levee in place.

He also argues the change for flooding in general is increasing due to more rooftops and paving taking place upstream and increasing the runoff. He noted the last levee breach south of Manteca on Feb. 20. 2017 that farmers quickly plugged was when the San Joaquin River was flowing at 40,000 cubic feet per second, well below the 66,000 cubic feet per second design capacity of the levees.

What does that have to do with land use? Plenty.

Any land not within an area protected against a 200-year flood has to have development such as new homes, power lines and roadways elevated out of the flood zone. 

While land zoning may avoid the 200-year flood area, it isn’t clear where the city will place the alignment of the Raymus Expressway as well as the actual levee. The roadway has to go north of the levee. The city has said as much.

Not knowing where either the roadway or levee will go exactly has been more than nerve-wracking for rural south Manteca residents who could see their lifestyle changed by having an expressway running behind — or in front — of their homes that they’ve lived in for decades shattering their lifestyles and dinging property values.

That said Harris and others are having a tough time with the city — from their perspective — essentially making them  pay the price for more robust flood protection that will allow at least 3,000 more families to move into homes approved for southwest Manteca that essentially has made building the cross levee farther to the south an absolute necessity.

The area that is also encompassed in the 200-year flood plan within the city limits had no tract homes on it when flooding last occurred in 1997. The city since then has pushed the needed location for the cross levee farther south. The 1997 flood was considered a 100-year event. The 100-year moniker doesn’t reflect the frequency of such flood events as it does the odds for one of such intensity in any given year.

On Tuesday Harris also noted by not incorporating large greenbelt areas or open space in the land use and going primary for business parks, commercial and new neighborhoods dotted with parks and small storm basins, that the city will be increasing more storm runoff and increasing future flooding potential along the river.

Filios’ point was that the city’s continued push for larger commercial areas is a tough sell in today’s retail world. 

He related how Amazon, Target and Walmart targeting online shopping has changed the brick and mortar retail world.

Filios has been working with several grocery chains in a bid to get them to locate in Union Crossing where the 130,000-square-foot  Lifestyle Furniture showroom and warehouse is planned along the extension of Atherton Driven west of Union Road.

Supermarkets are no longer looking for 45,000 to 60,000 square feet but instead are reverting back to the 30,000-square-foot footprint  they had for stores in the 1970s such as the SaveMart stores on Manteca on North Main Street and West Yosemite Avenue.

He noted the only retailers building large stores today are discounters.

Filios related how it was easy 20 years ago for him and his partners to secure stores for Spreckels Park that is anchored by Target and Food 4 Less along with Staples, TJ Max, Home Depot and others. He noted it is almost impossible to replicate a Spreckels Park commercial area in today’s retail climate.

He called Manteca snaring 120,000-square-foot concerns such as Lifestyle Furniture “an abnormality.”

The council eventually pushed for even more commercial to be included in the land use map.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email