Don’t expect to see Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu supporting efforts to ban new gas stations in Manteca.
The wisdom of allowing more gas stations to be built in Manteca due to the pending ban on the sale in California of new cars powered by combustible engines starting in 2035 was broached Thursday during the Manteca Planning Commission during the approval of a Chevron station on the southwest corner of Union Road and Atherton Drive.
“Whether Manteca has 50 or five gas stations is something for the market to decide,” Cantu said.
Petaluma on Monday became the first city in the United States to ban all new gas stations as well as prohibiting the relocation of existing stations or adding additional pumps.
Petaluma, a North Bay city that had 60,767 residents in 2019 has 16 gas stations. A 17th was approved in connection with a supermarket project before the vote to ban new stations.
The Chevron station approved Thursday will be Manteca’s 23rd gas station. If a Rotten Robbie’s on Airport Way is ultimately approved as well it will be the city’s 24th gas station. Manteca had 85,000 residents in 2019.
Manteca has less access to robust mass transit to reach employment centers such as in the Bay Area. Housing needs for the workforce powering the tech firms in the Bay Area added just short of 8,000 residents to the city’s population in the four-year period ending in 2019. By contrast Petaluma added 1,100 residents.
Cantu said he understands that “we will be in a transition” for the next 50 years.
“Gas powered cars aren’t going away any time soon,” Cantu said.
As of October the Department of Motor Vehicles reported just 1.2 percent or roughly 320,000 of the 27.7 million passenger vehicles registered in California are electric vehicles.
California currently accounts for just under half of all electric vehicle sales in the United States.
“I’m not going to be getting rid of my 1976 El Camino any time soon,” Cantu said.
Cantu said he has faith in the market that tends to adjust to changes. He also noted that the modern gas station model for profitability relies heavily on gas sales in convenience stores and car washes.
As for Manteca in 40 or so years having a dearth of abandoned gas stations sitting empty and blighted, Cantu doesn’t believe that will be an issue.
In Manteca there are only two remnants of former gas stations left. A canopy along Moffat Boulevard where a gas station once operated when it was old Highway 99 and a former station next to Anderson Bike and Mower on West Yosemite Avenue.
Over the years gas stations — that are move often than not on high profile corners — have been razed for other uses such as the Walgreens on Main Street.
The Car Care Council notes a typical passenger car built today can last for 12 years or 200,000 miles. Consumer Reports four years ago pout the figure at eight years or 150,000 miles.
“We are going to have a need for gas stations for the next 25 to 75 years (in some form or another),” Cantu said.
Cantu added that residents south of the 120 Bypass are underserved when it comes to gas stations.
Having a station at Union Road and Atherton Drive would reduce travel time to fuel at other stations north of the 120 Bypass plus help ease congestion somewhat.
The Petaluma City Council’s unanimous decision to ban all new gas stations in an effort to curb carbon emissions also is designed to encourage owners to transition to stations that serve electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles .
Petaluma hopes to become carbon neutral by 2030.
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