It isn’t exactly true that the City of Manteca has not put speed bumps in place.
The city more than 16 years ago installed two speed bumps without any major studies or surveys. They are located in the alley that runs from Center Street where Golden Valley Federal Credit Union is located to North Street behind homes facing Acacia and Poplar avenues.
Granted, they are not what Manteca is able to deploy on city streets as the speed bumps in the alley are true speed bumps — just like ones used in parking lots that require you to slow down to 5 mph or risk major jarring of vehicles. The city’s traffic calming options for residential streets include speed humps and speed tables that are a lot longer. While they still require you to slow down, they do reduce speed without making you almost come to a stop.
That said the reason the speed bumps were placed there in the first place could help city leaders in their bid to encourage the creation of affordable housing.
There are three granny flats or smaller homes under 700 square feet on the alley. There is a fourth you could lump in with the granny flats if you include the alley access to the rear unit of a duplex built on a narrow interior lot facing Acacia. The speed bumps went in to discourage speeding in the alley when the credit union opened.
City leaders should take a look at this alley not just because it shows passive speed control devices work at slowing traffic and making neighborhoods safer, but because of the potential to expand affordable housing opportunities in the city.
There are dozens of such granny flats that are accessed from alleys throughout the city with one being built as recently as 20 years ago.
The city currently has rules in place that comply to state mandates to allow the building of secondary housing units on residential lots where they fit but there have been few takers.
A bit out-of-the-box approach to affordable housing might be for the city to arrange programs to allow property owners to pursue building secondary housing units with access from streets where there are no alleys and from alleys where they exist.
The alley option is a bit more appealing for granny flats at such locations are fenced off from the main house to increase privacy.
If the city created a loan program using private lenders or in a manner similar to their micro-business loan effort, put in place procedures to make granny flat permit application as easy as possible, and aggressively marketed such an option they could tackle two pressing issues at once. One would be providing more affordable housing and the other to make it feasible for homeowners to improve their financial situation by having additional income from rentals. Many lots ideal for granny flats have homes occupied by older residents.
It also adds housing without the need to extend major infrastructure lines such as sewer and water or building streets. There also would be no sidewalks that would buckle requiring the city to maintain. Existing electrical and natural gas lines are in place to tap into.
As an added bonus even though any lot with an existing home that has adequate space to accommodate a granny flat can have one built on it, the most likely candidates are older neighborhoods near downtown and older commercial areas. That in turn would create more economic vitality.
The bottom line is Manteca has had no problem in the past slowing down emergency vehicles to slow traffic at least in one alley. Also granny flats are an affordable housing option that the council might want to jump start.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org