Twenty years ago Realtor Tom Wilson was part of 24 Manteca citizens tapped to fashion together a vision as to what the City of Manteca needed to work toward to make the community as vibrant as possible.
High on the list in what became known as the Vision 2020 Task Force report was developing diverse housing opportunities — including affordable as well as executive housing — in a bid to mix up the rising sea of subdivisions aimed at capitalizing on middle income families fleeing the Bay Area.
The goal was worked into lofty sounding policy statements in the general plan — the state mandated document that serves as a city’s blueprint for growth — and its companion document known as the housing element.
Then in early 2007 the City Council, under pressure to finally do something formed a Workforce Housing Task Force. Workforce housing for those households earning 80 to 120 percent of Manteca’s median income was specifically targeted “because there (were) already considerable information and programs in place hat address the issue of affordable housing.”
When the report that was completed by then senior planner Ben Cantu along with former planning commission and growth management committee member LeAnne McNabb, civil engineer Ron Cheek, now retired educator Jay Holmes; loan officer Kathy King with expertise in first home buyer programs, and mortgage professional Ron Cotten and presented to the council in October, it was promptly shelved. The reason: The council came to the conclusion the housing collapse had resolved the workforce housing crisis.
On Tuesday the council indicated it wants to try and give affordable housing more than lip service treatment by either tasking the planning commission with exploring city options or — as now Mayor Cantu last month indicated he’d like to have a council committee dedicated to that purpose.
While the council wants to zero in on affordable housing, the reason why the more holistic approach was advocated by the 2020 Vision Task Force to create a more varied housing mixture in Manteca, was feedback from real estate agents, various employers locating here as well as the struggle Doctors Hospital of Manteca was having attracting physicians to the community. The dearth of true executive style housing was limiting the mixture of Manteca growth.
As a result, most new physicians and executives of high profile corporations opting to locate operations in Manteca whether it is a hospital or a distribution center end up most of the time buying homes in Ripon and not Manteca.
Councilman Gary Singh noted the recently approved Griffin Park subdivision covering 343-acres south of Woodward Avenue and east of South Main Street will include 88 executive-style homes among the 1,532 dwellings proposed. Those 88 homes would sit on lots ranging from 0.25 to 0.5 acres within a gated community south of Sedan Avenue and would be at the southern edge of Manteca’s urbanization.
Griffin Park originally included some housing that would fit the definition of workforce housing until the overwhelmingly negative reaction to a similar endeavor by Richland Communities on land where the 30,000-square-foot Hat mansion stands and the project’s subsequent rejection by the Planning Commission prompted them to essentially stick with what is being built and sold now in Manteca.
The 2007 workforce housing report noted smaller homes on smaller lots was one of the best ways to secure housing that workers on salaries of people who were police officers, registered nurses, teachers, firefighters, and teachers could afford.
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