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Planners OK Manteca's 23rd gas station
gas station
This is a photo of a newer Chevron station in Napa.

California’s looming mandate to ban the sale of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines by 2035 did not dissuade the Manteca Planning Commission Thursday from approving the city’s 23rd gas station.

A Chevron station that includes 12 fuel dispensers with a canopy, car wash, and a 4,000-square-foot convenience store will be built on the southwest corner of Union Road and Atherton Drive.

It is the second piece of the Union Crossing commercial development that includes an 116,441-square-foot Living Spaces furniture showroom now under construction.

Union Crossing representative Demetri Filos shared that a firm is in the process of submitting plans to the city for a 300-unit apartment complex west  of the Chevron location. He indicated they are also in talks with several grocers about joining Living Spaces on the north side of Union Road where there will also in-line store space for lease.

The Chevron station was approved on a 4-1 vote with commission member Leonard Smith dissenting.

While saying he supported the project, Smith opted not to cast a “yes” vote given Chevron had no plans to install electric car charging stations although under state law new commercial endeavors must be built with electric service capacity and wiring in place to support the installation of chargers.

The question about charging stations — or even the wisdom of Manteca approving more gas stations with the 2035 mandate to ban the sale of new gas-powered gas vehicles in the Golden State — was brought up by Manteca resident Dave Atherton.

Atherton is an electric vehicle advocate and was one of the organizers of the September 2018 Electric Vehicle Expo that took place at the southwest corner of The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley parking lot kitty corner from the parcel where the Chevron station will be built. Atherton had to submit his comments in writing instead of in person as the public — unlike project applicants — do not have the ability to join Zoom meetings of the planning commission or the City Council.

Several commission members picked up on Atherton’s points as well as expressing concerns approving more gas stations could leave Manteca with abandoned commercial sites as electric cars and other non-polluting technology become the lion’s share of vehicles on California’s roads.

Chevron representatives indicated that the oil giant’s current business model doesn’t include electric charging stations.  He noted, however, that not only is the infrastructure for such chargers being installed as required by a recent state law that went into effect, but that Chevron purposely puts in convenience stores and car washes at new locations. That can allow the oil company to transition into a sustainable business model as the market changes.

At the same time some new gas stations, such as the Arco that opened last year on Lathrop Road and Crestwood Avenue include space for fast food stores. That location had planned to open a Fat Burger but that was put on hold due to the pandemic.

Fillos shared with the commission that Bianchi Ranch Partners — the Union Ranch development firm —  and Chevron have entered into a land lease for the property

That means if Chevron ever decides to pull the plug on the site they will have to do what McDonald’s did when they closed their original Manteca store on East Yosemite Avenue. They will need to raze the buildings as well as remove the fuel tanks. The land ownership would then revert to Bianchi Ranch Partners.

“That would leave a (vacant parcel) at a highly desirable, high traffic intersection,” Filos said.

Chevron also negotiated the exclusive right to sell gas in the Union Crossing development. That means no other gas station — including one in connection with a supermarket — could be built in the immediate area

Smith pointed to the growing number of electric car sales in California as justification for the city to require Chevron to install at least two chargers now instead of later.

There is a Tesla SuperCharger station — one of two in Manteca — nearby  on the Bass Pro Shops parking lot has 20 charging station. The Living Spaces parking lot will have 14 percent or 56 of its 456 parking spaces prewired for chargers. If they are installed it would make the furniture store parking lot the largest charging station in all of San Joaquin County.

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.

Commission members were in agreement a gas station was needed to serve the growing neighborhoods south of the 120 Bypass.

 It will be the second gas station and second convenience store south of the 120 Bypass as well as the first car wash.

Medians on both Union Road and Atherton Drive will restrict motorists to right turns in and right turns out of the station.

The Chevron stations will have low-profile monument signs — one on each street — not exceeding eight feet in height displaying the Chevron logo and prices.

If Rotten Robbie’s and the proposed Chevron open there will be 28 convenience stores in Manteca.

There are already 12 car washes operating in the city with the 13th under construction at Commerce Drive and Phoenix Drive across from the backside of Staples in the Spreckels Business Park. The proposed car wash would be the city’s 14th.

A car wash built seven years ago on East Yosemite Avenue east of Highway 99 has been shuttered for close to two years is poised to reopen as Manteca’s 15th car wash.

And if the approved 7-Eleven on the northeast corner of Louise Avenue and Main Street that originally was the site of a Long John’s Silver years ago is built along with the two previously mentioned Manteca projects will have 25 gas stations


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email