The Manteca City Council identified 11 goals that they want tackled by staff when they compile the municipal budget and capital improvement plans for the 2021-2022 fiscal year starting July 1.
The goals established at a workshop on Tuesday include:
*AIRPORT WAY: Upgrade the Airport Way corridor. This is not a one year and done endeavor and is likely to be years before the thoroughfare is brought up to acceptable community standards. The first goal is to reconfigure the roadway from Daniels Street to Yosemite Avenue to add a middle “turning” lane and repave the section. The long range goal is to widen it to four lanes. North of Yosemite Avenue much of the needed improvements will be paid for by the private sector as land adjoining the corridor develops. What is likely to happen in 2021 is additional design work and engineering. Staff made it clear that some segments of Airport Way pavement will deteriorate before a long-term solution is in place meaning the city will need to make remedial repairs in the meantime.
*BEAUTIFICATION: This is a broad goal that runs the gamut from graffiti, weed, yard and building abatements to knocking down illegal encampments and trash clean-up. Graffiti abatement before March 2020 and the shopping cart retrieval were minimal issues thanks to the SHARP volunteers that have been sidelined due to the pandemic. Years ago, the city reduced weed abatement inspections by the fire department from twice to once a year. City councils over the years have expressed a great reluctance to be pro-active with code enforcement issues on private property that crossover to blight preferring to act primarily on citizen complaints. Funding for additional code enforcement officers has not been a priority in previous budgets nor has restoring the streets maintenance crew to pre-Great Recession budget cut levels.
*BUSINESS RECRUITMENT, RETENTION & MARKETING: The council’s primary focus is on downtown and working with The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley owner to fill up empty spaces. Retaining business by working with them to find solutions for their needs as Manteca did a decade ago when BR Funsten was looking to move elsewhere due to a need to expand is more cost effective than searching for new employers. The council last year endorsed a staffing plan to create a free-standing economic development department but then froze those plans when the pandemic hit. The city has 1½ employees dedicated to economic recruiting of businesses and marketing, a half position less than Tracy. Some council members believe the answer may be addressing internal issues first before creating a new department.
*HOMELESS NAVIGATION CENTER DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION: The goal is to design and start construction of a homeless navigation center this year. That may seem aggressive but now that the council has dropped Qualex as the potential site it could be do-able. That’s because they are looking at an undeveloped 8.04-acre site that is a former RDA property that is available off of Carnegie Court in the Manteca Industrial Park. Should the city convince the state to allow the city to buy it at-market value instead of putting it back to auction and they go with Sprung Structures, Manteca could end 2021 with physical work being done on a navigation center assuming they are able to commit money to do so.
*SOUTH MAIN STREET AFFORDABLE HOUSING: The 8.04 acres being looked at for the homeless navigation center is too large for just that use. The council in December advanced the idea if they obtain the property and split it off ultimately with a sound wall it would allow the segment along South Main Street to be developed as multiple-family affordable housing. The best possible result by year’s end would be the city to be working toward securing the site and start working with a non-profit or private sector to brainstorm development proposals.
*PARTNERING WITH COUNTY & OTHER JURISDICTIONS FOR HOMELESS SOLUTIONS: This is a bid to develop a regional approach to addressing homeless concerns given it isn’t an issue that stays within jurisdictional boundaries. Also pooling resources is seen as a more effective way — in terms or results and costs — to work toward solutions. It is an approach that is also designed to avoid jurisdictions from “dumping” their problems on a neighbor so that everybody is pulling their weight to solve the problem.
*ASSESSING CITY FACILITIES NEEDS: This runs the gamut from replacing the nearly 45-year-old police station built when Manteca had 55,000 less residents and city hall needs to public works facilities. Based on similar endeavors in the past 20 years that went nowhere after the city bought the Qualex building and the 8.04 acres on South Main Street, it would involve assesses current space deficiencies and future needs, identifying whether it is an expansion/remodel or new sites, and cost. After that was done the council would determine the next steps.
*IMPROVING WORKPLACE MORALE, RETENTION, & PRODUCTIVITY: This goal is just what it says. The concern is to keep employees on track, happy with their jobs and feel comfortable at advancing solutions to problems after a year of an almost completely new management team being put in place and the specter of tough budget times ahead due to the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns causing a drop in sales tax and room tax revenues.
*IMPROVE FINANCIAL SYSTEMS & INFO: This is an outgrowth of the extensive accounting deficiencies unearthed in the finance department that has made it difficult for the city to determine how much funds they actually have in the correct accounts. Although there has yet to be any evidence surface of wrong doing such as embezzlement, the problems caused by accounting shortfalls are real. Money collected legally for a specific purpose may be in the wrong accounts and inter-department charges may be incorrect or non-existent. While the city is straightening out its books, the council wants systems in place to avoid a repeat of the problem as well as to assure they have accurate up-to-date financial figures when they are making spending decisions and that the municipal financials are transparently shared on an ongoing basis with the public.
*RE-DESIGNED WEBSITE & GREATER TRANSPARENCY: Staff is in the process of selecting a new vendor for its website redesign. The council, however, wants it to go beyond being easier to use. They want the public to be able to electronically access a wide array of public records. Staff is working toward greater transparency by having all commission meetings including the youth and senior advisory boards livestreamed on the city website as well as Facebook.
*ASSSESING STREET CONDITIONS & PUTTING IN PLAVE A GAME PLAN: This is actually part of a catch-all goal to address public works projects including needs you don’t see such as buried sewer and water lines nearing the end of their useful lives. The goal is to address needs, rank them in in priority, devise a cost estimate, and come up with a plan spanning a number of years to tackle them. The city would then work to secure the needed funds. Most of the projects will likely be street-related. And even if a priority list is established future councils could do what the current one did last year when they pulled money from significant pavement work needed in the Springtime Estates and Mayors Park neighbrhoods — along with that set aside for sealcoat work for the Del Webb at Woodbridge neighborhood — to allow a segment of Lathrop Road that was nearing collapse to be replaced.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com