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SB9 inaction: Proof Manteca isn’t in driver’s seat & is just along for the ride when it comes to growth
SB 9 housing
An example of how two homes can replace one based on Senate Bill 9 whether local California jurisdictions like it or not.

Drive down Powers Avenue between Yosemite Avenue and Moffat Boulevard.

You will be going through Manteca’s first modern post World War II subdivision.

The developer, Ed Powers, and not the city put the streets, water and sewer lines in place. It is where the city’s first tract homes with lots 6,000 square feet and larger became the norm.

It is also most likely the first place the “new” Manteca will emerge.

That’s because the size of the lots, homes typically 1,600 square feet or less, the neighborhood’s close proximity to a wide array of amenities, plus the relative age of the housing offers all of the right ingredients for Senate Bill 9 to take root in Manteca.

Senate Bill 9 that went into effect Jan. 1, 2022 makes it possible for property owners to have up to four dwelling units on what for years has been referenced as a “single family home” parcel. They can also split their single parcel into two lots with each new lot being allowed up to two housing units.

Under the new state law cities must allow that many housing units without public input.

That means today where there may by a 988-square-foot house on a 6,200-square foot house you could, as an example, conceivably have four 1,200-square-foot homes with two-story floor plans instead.

The goal is to increase housing availability and to do so so with smaller units that tend to be relatively more affordable.

Even though this can’t be the work of a developer per se, smart entrepreneurs will see dollar signs by making it possible for homeowners to tap into equity on steroids.

That would involve a firm working with the homeowner to keep the existing house and adding perhaps an auxiliary dwelling to it plus another ADU in the backyard. The homeowners could tap into equity to leverage the work. A typical home on Powers Tract with traditional roof lines built in the 1960 that is completely paid off is easily worth $440,000.

The company can be a silent partner since they wouldn’t be living in one of the up to four parcels for three years as required under the law for the owner of a Senate Bill project adding more homes to a single lot.

In an outright lot split, a small investor or a firm could acquire a new parcel created behind an existing home and build two homes on it.

Or they could partner with the homeowner, tear everything down, create lots conductive to one- or two-story duplexes being built on narrow deep lots and construct four up-to-date units of which the original owner would need to own and occupy one unit for at least three years.

If you don’t think this has appeal, guess again. Older homeowners who are retired or nearing it that tend to either outright own or have nearly paid off mortgages would have a source of additional income when they stop working.

It is already penciling out in several Southern California cities given the law requires cities to allow new lots to be created as small as 1,200 square feet.

That means Powers Tract that started as a neighborhood to provide starter homes for soldiers returning from the Korean War ready to start families could be at the beachhead of a new effort to launch affordable housing in Manteca.

It certainly won’t happen overnight.

But given the regional housing crunch especially for those who opt to live and work in the valley, the huge shortage of affordable starting homes even among the oldest and smallest resale homes, and the strength of the Northern San Joaquin Valley market it will happen. That’s because the opportunity it is creating for entities to finance, design and build houses under the provisions of Senate Bill 9 plus being an effective way for homeowners to have a solid source of additional revenue.

And before you think this won’t happen on any parcel with homes built on them since 1991 or even eventually down the road on some of the approved “mega lots” where homes have yet to be built, guess again.

Once the genie is out of the bag as neighborhoods age it will become a reliable source of revenue for homeowners.

For those who might think this is the end of the traditional “single family” neighborhood, you’re a bit late. It is simply the logical continuation of what started years ago.

California for years has been coming up short tens upon tens of thousands of homes each year. The reason there aren’t two million people living on the street is simple. Families share homes. People rent rooms.

Some buyers of new homes immediately list rooms available for rent after they close escrow.

This is nothing new whether you are talking about older neighborhoods or newer neighborhoods.

Manteca and other cities can’t stop Senate Bill 9 from happening. They can’t physically preclude the construction of two dwellings less than 800 square feet apiece per lot. They can’t require onsite parking for housing units built under Senate Bill 9 rules that are located with a half mile of a major transportation corridor or a bus stop or within a block of a car share vehicle.

But they are allowed to adopt objective zoning, design, and subdivision standards.

Rest assured Manteca didn’t have even a temporary ordinance queued up to assure orderly implementation of Senate Bill 9 as did many cities such as Campbell in the Bay Area.

This should come as no surprise for a city that since 2006 has talked and talked about putting in place incentives for affordable housing yet hasn’t moved an inch in that direction unless you call lining the pockets of consultants for study after study and then doing nothing progress.

Addressing housing that is affordable and attainable for the workforce to rent or buy as opposed to those subsidized for low-income families along with addressing homeless issues has been tossed around as a pressing priority by city leaders for going on six years.

Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu last week again reminded the community that the city has 10,000 plus more housing units in various stages of approval yet the city, in his opinion, is ill-prepared for it.

A lot of people share that opinion. If the rest of the council does as well they certainly kept people in the dark about it at last Tuesday’s council meeting by letting Cantu do the talking.

Are you starting to get the feeling that people at city hall as well as those elected to represent the community don’t want to step back for a moment and see where growth is taking Manteca by having a serious discussion that will lead to concrete action?

Sorry but yet another general plan update six years in the making to string toothless words together to lull people into thinking Manteca is in the driver’s seat instead of just being along for the ride when it comes to growth doesn’t cut it.


 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at