By DENNIS WYATT
Ripon’s next elementary school could be built in the City of Manteca.
Ripon Unified Superintendent Ziggy Robeson noted a planned development by Richland Communities that could result in upwards of 1,000 homes will likely include a site for a new elementary school.
There are already roughly a hundred homes built in southeast Manteca — primarily south of Mono Street — that are already within the boundaries of the Ripon Unified School District. Those students that are within walking distance of Woodward School in the Manteca Unified School District are bused to Ripon campuses.
The development Richland is proposing for the former 184-acre Hat estate where the 28,000-square-foot Hat Mansion stands is the latest reincarnation of the home builder’s vision for land that was once completely covered by vineyards.
In order to develop to the degree Richland wants, it needs to be annexed to the City of Manteca. They originally proposed an 800-home age restricted community similar to Del Webb at Woodbridge but dropped those plans.
The second proposal for a number of affordable homes among 1,030 housing units was batted down by the Manteca City Council after nearby homeowners strenuously opposed the project based on the number of small lots that included:
u158 lots would be 65 by 90 feet for a lot size of 5,850 square feet.
u224 lots would be 55 by 90 feet for a lot size of 4,950 square feet.
u242 lots would be 47 by 90 feet for a lot size of 4,330 square feet.
u106 lots would be 35 by 80 feet for a lot size of 2,800 square feet. They would have had alley access for garages and would likely be similar to projects in Oakdale and elsewhere that use concrete instead of asphalt for alleys and have landscaping.
u300 plus or minus townhouse units would be built on 25.8 acres for a density of 11.6 units per acre.
Richland is now working on another proposal for the site.
Since then things have changed. The 2018 election saw two people elected that place a high priority on affordable housing — Mayor Ben Cantu and Councilman Jose Nuño. At the same time there are new state laws in place that make it tougher for jurisdictions not to allow affordable housing projects to go forward. Those laws may not apply to Manteca in this case given the land has yet to be annexed to the city.
Still both Cantu and Nuño in their campaigns emphasized the pressing need for Manteca to provide more affordable housing.
Robeson said the number of homes that Richland proposes to build would likely provide enough students to justify a kindergarten through eighth grade campus.
Ripon’s elementary schools typically house between 400 and 500 students. That compares to between 800 and 900 students at the nearest Manteca Unified elementary campuses — Woodward and Veritas. To accommodate growth, Manteca Unified is pursuing a strategy to up campus capacity at elementary schools where there is space to do so to accommodate between 1,000 and 1,100 students.
Ripon’s last two new elementary schools — Colony Oak and Weston — opened as all portable building campuses and stayed that way for close to 30 years until a recent $25 million school bond put in place permanent structures.
A new campus based on Ripon’s target size once you include land costs and such could easily cost $20 million to build.
Robeson hopes Manteca’s elected leaders will work with Ripon Unified to make sure future families that will buy homes that have been approved by the council to be built will have access to a neighborhood school.
Currently Ripon Unified does not have a community facilities district to generate revenue to help build facilities to accommodate growth. They do collect development fees based on the square footage of new construction.
Robson noted the Richland project “is the last in Manteca within the (Ripon Unified) district” to be advanced for the foreseeable future based on Manteca’s growth patterns.
Without the Richland project moving forward the existing Manteca families within the Ripon Unified school district will not have access to a neighborhood elementary school.