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Cantu pushing for densities beyond maximum of 25 homes per acre as city now is allowing
Shown is the Fruitvale Transit Village in Oakland connecting a BART station with a commercial district. Some council members would like to encourage a similar project in downtown Manteca near the transit center.

It could be called having the city working toward providing housing opportunities for what people need and not what everyone assumes they want.

“People coming to Manteca are looking for ranchettes and their seven bedrooms,” noted Mayor Ben Cantu during a joint Manteca City Council/Manteca Planning Commission workshop Tuesday on the proposed general plan update designed to guide growth for the next 20 years.

Cantu said the city needs to push higher densities to give developers an incentive to “grow up” and not keep spreading out so “we’re not tearing down 700 almond trees to build homes.”

It was a sentiment shared in varying degrees by Cantu’s council colleagues that also believe Manteca not only has a dearth of housing affordable for those earning Manteca and Northern San Joaquin Valley paychecks but lacks a diversity of housing types such as executive homes.

Councilman Charlie Halford noted Manteca is essentially building affordable homes for Bay Area buyers.

“We need to encourage (other housing types) so our kids can be able to buy here” whether it is condos or other housing styles, Halford added.

Community Development Director Chris Erias noted the proposed general plan does call for carving out areas with densities higher than 25 units per acre such as a planning area centered at Airport Way and Yosemite Avenue that is near the ACE Lathrop/Manteca train station.

Typically three-story apartment complexes can be built with a density of up to 25 units per acre. A typical single family neighborhood built today has about five homes per acre.

Councilman Jose Nuño — who makes his living with a non-profit that builds and manages affordable housing — said the transit center on Moffat Boulevard in downtown is an ideal location to pursue higher densities as Cantu suggested by creating a transit village. That would also help create a downtown population within walking distance of areas that the city has longed to see develop with more restaurants and entertainment-style options.

Starting in 2023, ACE trains will start stopping near the transit center to provide passenger rail service to Sacramento and San Jose.

Cantu said he wasn’t too sure the market exists for the higher density housing styles he’d like to see such as Nuño’s vision of a transit village similar to what has happened in Dublin and Pleasanton near the BART station.

Singh, a real estate agent and the only millennial on the council, said he believes the demand already exists for such options as a transit village lifestyle among younger people. As things stand now, however, Manteca hasn’t done much but to encourage building detached single family homes on good-sized lots that are typically aimed at traditional families with above average — for Manteca — income.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email