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Manteca aims to bring jobs to Oak Street

Oak Street in Manteca’s early years was the city’s job hub. It was home to Manteca’s first industrial employer, the Manteca Cannery. It was launched in 1914 when the first batch of “Manteca Lady” tomatoes were processed earning the community the moniker of “Tomatoville”. The first year’s output of 19,000 cases of fruit and vegetables increases to 250,000 cases by the time Manteca incorporated as a city in 1918. The cannery incorporated one of the first buildings constructed in the community — A. Baccilieri’s Manteca Winery. Oak Street soon has other employers such as Kraft-Phoenix Cheese Corporation, Schenley Distilleries, and San Joaquin Lumber among other concerns. Today the once teeming industrial area just south of downtown Manteca across the railroad tracks has more vacant buildings than occupied structures. It’s not because there isn’t an interest. The city has had a number of inquiries from people seeking to locate businesses along the street but what they wanted to do — essentially manufacture items on site for sale such as a cabinet shop, furniture manufacturing, and repair shops — wasn’t allowed. That’s because during a general plan update prior to the 1990s a consultant was convinced the area would be a natural extension of downtown. The city bought into the idea and it was zoned general commercial that does not allow uses that involve manufacturing. On Tuesday, the Manteca City Council is expected to approve the final reading of a city-initiated rezone to change the area to commercial manufacturing in order to improve the chances for the vacant buildings to once again provide jobs for the Manteca economy. The City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St. To contact Dennis Wyatt, email