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Council wants to reduce land set aside for homes to seek more employment
Construction workers with Pleasanton-based D.R. Horton work on an Express Homes house in a new neighborhood south of Woodward Avenue. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca’s elected leaders have weighed in on what they want to see as the city grows to 100,000 residents and beyond: Accommodation for more distribution-style business parks and less land set aside for single family homes.

They also want to make sure new homes aren’t built up against freeways and railroad tracks, single family homes are sufficiently buffered from industrial uses, and commercial development encouraged in a manner where more people might be tempted to walk to shop than drive.

The directions they gave consultants crafting an updated land use plan designed to serve as a blueprint for municipal growth were made during a more than 3½ hour joint City Council and Planning Commission meeting. 

The establishment of future land use arguably has never been more important. Manteca — with sewer and water infrastructure in place along with close to 8,000 already approved housing units that have yet to be built — will hit 114,130 residents by 2030 at the current pace of growth.  The 2030 date is when the general plan under state law would need to be updated again.

To reach 114,130 residents from the current 83,781 residents would actually require numeric growth to flat-line and the rate of growth to decline slightly. Manteca added 2,759 residents last year according to the state Department of Finance.

“We focus too much on single family home development,” Mayor Ben Cantu said. “We need to provide a job focus.”

Cantu pushed for a major change in the land use plan as presented to restore the Roth Road extension eastward and build a future interchange that the pervious council eliminated 16 months ago from the traffic circulation plan because the city could not afford to build it and do all of the other interchange work it had committed to construct.

Roth Road, under Cantu’s vision, would go eastward from Austin Road and then enter a large S-curve to connect with a new interchange on Highway 99 midway between French Camp Road and Lathrop Road that would be a designated truck route. Land north of the extended Roth Road would be zoned for business park and industrial use while land to the south would primarily be single family homes. The business park north of Roth Road would also provide a buffer for Delicato Family Vineyards A heavily tree-lined four-lane Roth Road extension would serve as a buffer between homes and industrial uses..

Councilman Gary Singh noted that would eventually allow the city to get truck traffic off of Lathrop Road.

Cantu’s proposal — if adopted — would open the door for massive distribution center development literally within a mile of the largest train-to-truck intermodal facility in Northern California operated by Union Pacific Railroad on Roth Road. The majority of surface goods moving cross country are moved most of the way to their destinations by truck trailers loaded on rail cars.

The UP facility has been approved for expansion from its current 954 truck movements on an average day to 2,186 at complete build-out. 

It would give Manteca a competitive advantage to a degree over Tracy  and possibly even Stockton in the hunt for mega distribution centers even though Tracy is 15 miles closer to the consumer rich Bay Area. That’s because supply trucks would have a mile or less to go between the intermodal facility and a distribution center. They would also be within minutes of Stockton Metro Airport where Amazon now has a half dozen daily flights moving in goods primarily destined for Bay Area markets. The Manteca locale would also be 15 miles closer to Sacramento consumers than Tracy.

Such a change if implemented and developed would ultimately provide a truck route between Interstate 5 and Highway 99 as well as serve additional industrial uses city envisions west of Airport Way north of Lathrop Road to almost French Camp.

Cantu also wants to see the Raymus interchange restored that was proposed midway between Austin Road and Jack Tone Road  on Highway 99 to serve future growth in south Manteca.  When the previous council dropped the Raymus interchange and Roth Road interchange from the city’s road system plan in September 22017 after determining they couldn’t afford them and do interchange upgrades elsewhere the cost for the two projects at the time was pegged at $90 million — $75 million for the Raymus interchange and $15 million for the Roth Road interchange.

Other council members concurred with the need to put a heavier emphasis on job centers as opposed to housing.

When it came to placing housing against freeways and industrial uses at interior locations within the city Planning Commission member Jeff Zellner noted Manteca was “doing it inside out.”

Council members agreed arguing business parks should buffer housing and not the other way around.

Singh pointed to several recent new neighborhoods that have been built — such as the one northwest of the Louise Avenue and UP railroad crossing — that has resulted in unhappy home buyers pushing the city to implement quiet zones for trains that skips train horns for stationery wayside horns at crossings.

Planning Commissioner Paraminder Sahi pointed out the folly of proceeding with some of the land use designation for employment centers without having the proposed recommended truck routes the city is working on incorporated into land use maps.  He noted it would allow the city to assure they would not be encouraging business park development in areas not on a truck route.

Another planning commissioner, Leonard Smith, led the charge for “walkability” by making sure areas that have extensive residential uses also include commercial areas. It would allow a village-style development pattern where residents could either take short drives or walk to do much of their day-to-day needs for goods and accessing services.

The consultants will incorporate proposed changes in the land use. The modified map would be brought back to a future meeting for approval.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email