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Mayor Cantu‘s pitch for ‘pause’ isn’t legal but notes there is now ‘political will’ to address growth issues
housing one

There will be no Manteca moratorium on new tentative subdivision maps.

But that doesn’t mean the objectives that a pause on new plans for even more housing beyond the 6,000 or so living units already approved — or in the approval process — but not yet built won’t be addressed to some degree.

“It just so happens all of the planets have lined up so it can be done with the existing administration and council,” Cantu said of tackling a number of vexing growth-related problems. “There is political will for it now.”

Assistant City Manager Lisa Blackmon noted that within days of word getting out that Manteca was considering a moratorium on processing new tentative maps for subdivisions “the phones were ringing off the hook.” It wasn’t from developers, though. It was from other cities.

Blackmon noted other jurisdictions were saying if Manteca found a way to legally make such a move to let them know as they have been trying to find a way to do it for years.

A slew of state laws including California’s Housing Accountability Act protect all residential development projects from being derailed unless the project would have a specific adverse impact on public health or safety and if no feasible means exists to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the impact.

“We (city staff) are looking at ways we can legally meet what the council wants done,” Blackmon added.

What the council wants done has yet to be determined.


Affordable housing

most vexing concern

Cantu had asked last month to have the moratorium proposal placed on tonight’s agenda. The goal was to see if there was support for such a moratorium, how long it would last and the growth-related issues that the council would want to address.

The mayor has an extensive list of concerns many of which have been voiced by his colleagues on the council — affordable housing, making sure fees cover all the impacts it creates, making sure amenity needs and wants are being addressed, having a way to assure services keep up with growth, and having a workable plan in place for major roads and sticking with it.

None of that will be discussed tonight due to the original reason for the agenda item was to see if there was support for getting a moratorium in place so needs could be addressed before more housing units gain approval.

There are already fees in place for many growth impacts. Cantu’s concern is whether they are keeping up with the actual portion of costs projects can legally be charged to growth. He also wants the city to look at amenities that fees aren’t being collected for to determine if the council wants those added as well.

The most vexing issue of all is affordable housing. It is also the one issue that a moratorium on tentative maps — if it were legal — would have been the most affective at getting a solution in place to address.

That’s because tentative maps are based on municipal requirements. Besides broad-based policy statements in the general plan, there are no specific requirements that developments must provide for affordable housing when they submit tentative maps or even incentives to encourage developers to do so.

What Cantu did not want to see happen was even more projects submitted that increased the stockpile of 6,000 square-foot lots that, in most cases, will not lead to new homes being built that are attainable to rent or buy on the wages many households make at jobs in Manteca and the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

Cantu over the years besides pointing out Manteca has historically under collected growth fees although that may have improved significantly in recent years with adjustments after state-mandated nexus studies were performed to update charges, has been frustrated there are no plans in place to move forward on various projects.


Manteca likely to surpass

105,000 residents by 2030

Manteca has been growing annually at a rate of 300 to 600 new housing units since the start of the Great Recession. Growth is now picking up to the point nearly 900 living units could be added next year. 

As such Manteca is likely to surpass 105,000 residents by 2030. The city’s current population is 86,000.

The city in the past has worked on affordable housing action plans beyond the general plan that would get down to the nitty gritty decisions that must be made involving tentative subdivision maps. The only serious effort — of which Cantu chaired — was during 13 years ago. When it was completed in 2007 the council at the time tossed it aside proclaiming that the housing crisis that cratered prices had solved Manteca’s affordable housing dilemma. Also serving on the committee were Ron Cotton, Charleen Carroll, Ron Cheek, Kathy King, LeAnn McNabb, and Jay Holmes.

Apartment rents in Manteca since 2007 have more than doubled.

When it comes to the current council gave the political will to tackle affordable housing Cantu may be right.

Besides Cantu being the most high profile affordable housing advocate in Manteca for the last two decades with a background as a city planner, council member Jose Nuño works for a non-profit firm that provides affordable housing opportunities throughout the Central Valley. Councilman Gary Singh is a real estate agent. Both council members Charlie Halford and Dave Breitenbucher have expressed more than a passing concern about the lack of affordable housing in Manteca.


Possible solutions listed

some 11 months ago

Cantu in January listed major points he planned to explore  Nuño as a council subcommittee that were part of their effort to bring a proposal back to the council for possible implementation including putting rules and regulations in place that could possibly:

*increase the average housing density from 8 homes to 10 homes per acre.

*require a set percentage of homes built to have smaller footprints of around 1,100 to 1,200 square feet as opposed to the 1,600 to 3,600 square foot tract homes that are now being built.

*provide incentives for builders willing to develop entire neighborhoods aimed at the Northern San Joaquin Valley market as opposed to the Bay Area market.

*devising requirements that at-market apartment complexes that are being built have a higher percentage of smaller units.

*encourage new tract homes to be built with smaller secondary units often called granny flats that could be rented.

*require or incentivize the building of some homes with master-suites with small kitchenettes that would have separate exterior entrances.

Cantu 11 months ago noted the biggest housing deficiency Manteca has is between subsidized housing and homes being built for the Bay Area market as defined by paychecks.

Cantu and Nuño, met with the Building Industry Association of the Greater Valley that represents the interests of home builders. Cantu in January noted they had made some recommendations and have indicated they are receptive to working with the city to come up with other potential solutions.

The term “market” housing is a misnomer of sorts especially when applied to cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. That’s because there are two markets — those earning higher Bay Area paychecks that are being pushed out of the Bay Area to buy or rent and those who earn valley paychecks.

If the influence of the Bay Area economy was significantly smaller or non-existent, a different type of at-market home would be built in Manteca.

Cantu indicated in January he believes it would be closer to what he grew up in — a 1,100-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms — and not a home pushing 4,000 square feet with five to six bedrooms and three to four bathrooms.

The mayor has repeatedly emphasized he isn’t pushing for subsidized housing but rather city regulations that require developers to build to the local market at the same time they build to the Bay Area market.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email