As a lifelong Manteca resident, I have seen our city grow from a population of around 9,000 to its current population of over 81,000. I believe our 3.9% growth cap has served us well for the past 30 years however we must also be prepared for the migration of Bay Area families looking to settle in Manteca.
The jewel of the Valley, Manteca is the epicenter of the best that California has to offer. Beaches to the west, ski slopes to the east and close proximity to one of the country’s most majestic National Parks, Yosemite. Manteca is a magnet for those looking for a wonderful quality of life that is more affordable than the Bay Area.
We must ensure the we have a plan in place to accommodate growth, while considering hard growth limits. Manteca residents want the “small town” feel that helps define our quality of life. I too, yearn for the small town I grew up in, however we must face the fact, Manteca in no longer a small town.
During the Great Recession, the city did let growth fees lag. This led to the deterioration of our infrastructure, most visibly, our streets. It is incredibly important that we assess growth fees on new development and ensure growth pays its own way.
As your councilmember, I will seek to manage growth smartly, using common sense, innovation and a deep lifelong belief that Manteca will always be a great place to raise a family. I refuse to put the needs of developers over the needs of Manteca residents and I will guarantee our fundamental needs are met, most importantly, public safety.
It’s important to understand where the present growth limit originated. In the 1980s, 1,100 to 1,400 new homes were being built in Manteca per year; which involved a large backlog of buyers waiting in every subdivision, and in many cases multiple buyers for the same house in the event loans failed. Then suddenly the City realized that the processing capacity of the sewer plant had been reached; a building moratorium was declared and new home building ceased immediately.
For the next few years the city went through a difficult period that divided the community, prompted a debate on the community’s growth patterns, and a discussion about how large the city should grow. The developers sought a 5.9 percent growth rate which essentially mirrored the rate of development prior to the moratorium, while community activists felt a 1.9 percent was more reasonable. Eventually, a compromise settled on 3.9 percent, based on the premise that such a rate would allow the City to keep ahead of public service demands.
The origin growth limit program was based on an annual review and issuance of sewer permits, a provision which is not in place today. Over time the original Growth Management program was modified and stretched a number of times to accommodate the development community. Today, while the 3.9 percent growth limit remains intact, modifications have created a 10-year backlog of thousands of approved and planned residential lots. Consequently, over time the destiny of this community has been solidified as a bedroom community as desired by the developers and the City has also lost ground on its ability to keep ahead of public service demands.
Yes, it is long past time that the growth management program is revisited; and for the community to have an opportunity to determine its future priorities. The revisited growth management program should be based, as it was originally proposed, to facilitate and guide the City in its ability to meet service demands as the community grows at a moderate rate. I would propose the growth management program be modified to more closely define and specify desired levels of public service, be revisited every five years, and include a fiscal element. In my opinion, I believe the 3.9 percent annual growth rate is manageable if the overall fiscal management of the city is brought in line with desired public service levels.
There is no need to establish hard-fast urban limits; our current urban limits as defined by the adopted Manteca General Plan have been accepted by adjacent communities and the County. Given the large undeveloped rural land area between the existing city limits and those urban limits, there is no need to expand the limits at this time. There is however a need to define the type of community we want to achieve into the future and the standards by which the desired quality of life is achieved.
Please contact me at cantu4mayor.com, on Facebook at “Ben Cantu for Manteca Mayor,” and on Twitter @bcantu1951.
Manteca’s current plan was established 30 years ago by the city council after significant growth occurred in the city. Today, growth continues with the original plan still in place. Under this scenario, the number of residential sewer allocations that can be issued is 3.9%. This number is arrived at the end of each year by taking the overall housing units within the city limits which includes “single family homes, apartments, mobile homes, duplexes, triplexes, condos and townhouses and multiplying the total by 3.9 percent”.
What is confusing to many is the fact that there are certain years when the numbers will exceed the 3.9% threshold. Exempt from the 3.9 percent growth cap requirements are senior housing, infill housing, age – restricted and affordable housing, allowing additional growth beyond the 3.9 percent to occur. Also, what must be considered is that the number of homes that were built in prior years is sometimes lower than the 3.9 percent thus allowing carryover to following years. This has only occurred three times in the last 15 years. Under this plan, growth is controlled by the ordinance previously placed into law. The current plan has been in place for 30 years and I do support the current ordinance. With that, I would support reviewing the policy during the general plan update which takes place every 5 years or on an as needed basis.
My reasoning is solely based on being prepared for the estimated population which is anticipated to reach 125,000-135,000 citizens for Manteca by 2050, just 32 short years from now. The world population will grow along with continuing growth in California and the San Joaquin Valley. I’ve said this many times, preparing for the future requires appropriate action today. We must be proactive because decisions we make today will affect our community for years to come.
Let’s look at the second part of the question, would we be better served in establishing ultimate hard-fast urban limits to the north, south and east? The question itself requires out-of-the-box thinking. I will first begin by stating everything we do is outlined in our General Plan which contains future growth projections for our city. With regards to limiting growth in the south, it is my strong opinion we should no longer build anything beyond the sphere already outlined for the City of Manteca.
With respect to the north and east, new development will be outlined in future general plans. I’m not completely sold on the idea of establishing hard and fast growth numbers. I’m a free market person who believes we should allow individuals to make their own decisions without placing any undo hardships or arbitration limitation on them.
I strong believe that our city government must continue to be transparent and everything must be on the for discussion and consideration, so we can make wise, long-term decisions. As always, any decisions made will require input from our stakeholders which include city staff, community leaders, council representatives, building industry and the residents of Manteca. I simply believe that working together and building bridges will allow us strong, sustainable growth for a booming economy to create a more vibrant and healthier and community for all our residents.
The original purpose of the growth management ordinance (GMO) was based on sewer capacity. In the late 1980s when the city was growing faster than the sewer capacity, the city determined that growth had to slow down to allow infrastructure to catch up with housing demand. That infrastructure was primarily phase three expansion of sewer system scheduled to be completed in 2004. The phase three expansion was forecasted to provide capacity for approximately eight years of growth. All this information is outlined in our Manteca Municipal code 18.04.010 which is consistent with the 2003 General Plan. As updated, the general plan contains growth management and other related goals and policies.
In 1988, the city leaders with input from the community and other local groups had determined that the growth rate of 3.9% would best serve the residents of Manteca. At that time, our city was much smaller with less than 9,000 single family homes. I believe that most residents didn’t realize that the land south of 120 bypass would growing so quickly when agriculture land was sold to developers at a much higher price then the profitability of farming. The issue of allowing builders to carry over any unused (3.9%) allocations to the following year may seem unreasonable today but is clearly stated in Title 18 as permitted; and it was the intent of the council and citizens in 1988. So now to answer the question; is the issue of sewer allocations viable today? No! Currently, we have plenty of sewer allocations. It also appears we have enough for years to come for all types of housing and business developments in Manteca.
In response to whether the current 3.9% cap should be changed, I think it can certainly be considered by the City Council because it is beneficial to review and possibly update the 1988 ordinance. I personally, would not be opposed to revisiting the growth cap through efforts of public workshops, planning commission involvement while still abiding by all state and federal standards. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) states that every general plan of a city must contain a housing element that makes “adequate provision for existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community.” The HCD has come up with “Regional Housing Needs Assessment”, (RHNA) which looks at cities and in incorporated general plans in all counties of the state for a 10-year period in how much development should be available for housing needs. The newest statistics from Jan 1, 2014 to December 21, 2023 to meet the RHNA requirement is 4,401 housing units. This amounts to an average of 440 homes a year to meet the state mandated minimum amount of homes you need to build annually.
Nonetheless, residents may continue to express the sentiment that federal and state regulations concerning development for our city may not always seem reasonable or fair. There are many factors that make up a growth management program, but I do not believe that only politicians, city planners, and developers should have the final word; the voice of our residents must also be heard.
Manteca was a big city for me when I moved here from Waterford, CA in 2006 after marrying my wife born and raised in Manteca. I no longer had to drive 20-30 minutes to a bigger city to go to the nearest store such as Target or Walmart. Since then, the city has continued to grow with a significant amount of homes in the southern and northern part of the city. What was once homes in the country are slowly becoming part of the urban city. During the Housing Bubble crisis between 2007 and 2010, the city of Manteca was able to continue to build homes. It was the only city in San Joaquin County that was building a significant number of single family homes throughout the recession. Due to its proximity to places such as Silicon Valley, Yosemite National Park, Coastal Beaches, Lake Tahoe, etc., and its diversity in residents, Manteca became an ideal location for many people.
I believe the current policy used by the city to control its growth cap should be revisited to accommodate for a better balance between residential and commercial construction. The potential new growth cap would be based on a formula of taking into account the number of residents the city is growing every two years and making sure that housing options and community amenities, such as park and recreational, are adequately being developed for the growth.
I do not want to create permanent boundary lines that would limit the potential footprint that Manteca can be. I want room for expansion as needed as the needs of our community continue to change. Currently neighboring cities would love to edge up to Manteca as much as possible due to our valuable location. We need to protect that and make sure we have the right of first refusal to grow to our full potential. We are entering into the next 100 years of existence and I see Manteca getting wiser and more vibrant with age.
I see the need for multi family units to take care of the housing for young families and professionals as well as single family homes for growing families and those seeking to move to larger homes. The development of Executive Homes to take care of executive professionals that currently seek neighboring cities for their housing needs. Commercial development to accommodate for shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities. This is one of the biggest items missing currently in Manteca, there are not enough places that residents can go to spend their money locally. Residents are left with no choice but to go to neighboring cities for those options. Although the city of Manteca can not dictate the type of business to open in the city it can definitely show them the vision of what the residents desire and would be able to support financially.
Manteca is seen by many as a bedroom, commuter town; however, I see the potential for Manteca to be a place of tourism, innovation, a leader in facilities for hosting sports such as softball and soccer and recreational activities. Manteca to be an example of a model city for others in California and the Nation. To not only be considered one of the most Patriotic cities West of the Mississippi River but a model American Family City.
When the 3.9% growth cap was originally instituted in 1988, Manteca was a much smaller city suffering the infrastructure pains from a recent growth spurt. However, it is 2018, 30 years later. Any sort of law, ordinance or idea, should be revisited after 30 years. Reassess the needs of the city population and infrastructure and make sure the growth cap still makes sense. So, yes. I believe the 3.9% growth cap needs to be reassessed.
Look at it from a numbers perspective. In an article written by Dennis Wyatt in the Manteca Bulletin in 2010, he outlines how the growth cap is used. The city takes 3.9% of the current housing unit count to determine how many sewer allocations (or new connections to our sewer system, i.e. new homes. An apartment complex/duplexes/triplexes are considered one allocation, just like a single family home) are allowed under the growth cap. Based on census numbers, Manteca’s population was about 38,000 people in 1988 with roughly 11,000 housing units; 3.9% of that housing count is about 429 allocations. So that would allow 429 new homes or apartment complexes/duplexes/triplexes to be built. Take Manteca’s numbers today: our population is about 81,000 with roughly 24,000 housing units. With the 3.9% growth cap that is 936 new allocations just for one year. That number is much larger than 30 years ago.
We cannot expect not only our current sewer system to handle a growth spurt that big, that fast without updating it. Additionally, we cannot expect our fire, police, city maintenance, and schools to take on that same burden without maintaining and updating them also. Maxing out the 3.9% growth cap every year just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We should think smart — think to the future, think how this would affect all aspects of our city, not just our bottom line. This includes the people that live here and the businesses that operate here also.
To modify this growth cap, I propose we keep the cap at 3.9% but spread it out over a certain number of years. This would allow for growth but would also allow enough time for our city to adjust accordingly. Pumping the brakes a little would also allow the city to hire more staff to maintain our wonderful city, allow for us to adjust if there is another recession and we (hopefully) won’t have hundreds of empty homes because too many were built too quickly, and allow our residents to feel safe because we have enough fire and police to support them in their most vulnerable times.
For right now, I believe we should just focus on getting a handle on the problems we have at this moment, most importantly keeping up with the demands of the growth spurt we are currently experiencing. We should worry about any hard urban lines surrounding the city after we have put the coals out on our currently smoldering issues. The rate the population is growing right now, those smoldering issues will quickly grow to a fire and the last thing we need is to try and deal with that huge fire with only a small bucket of water. We need to beef up that bucket to a hose or even a firetruck. Prevention is key.