Manteca — according to municipal policies adopted 14 years ago — is supposed to identify and protect the city’s historically and architecturally significant buildings.
Yet as Manteca gears up to celebrate its 100th anniversary as a city in May while at the same time laying the groundwork to update the general plan to serve as a guide for Manteca’s growth through 2040 nothing has been done in terms of putting policies in place to protect historic and significant buildings as the current general plan states “shall” be done.
It underscores what critics have charged over the years is an established track record of the city investing significant money in studies on what they should do — the general plan update will cost Manteca in the neighborhood of $200,000 — and then doing nothing or starting to implement a strategy and then failing to follow through. The five downtown plans the city has paid consultants to devise and then either ignored or partially started and then stopped implementing is the most high profile instance of studies seemingly being for naught.
The general plan when it is adopted by elected leaders includes general goals as well as specific policies to pursue to implement the goals. They are identified as action items by the use of the word “shall” instead of “may”.
The issue of historic and significant buildings is covered in the general plan under the subjects of conservation and open space that is scheduled for discussion along with air quality during the Monday, Nov. 6, general plan advisory committee meeting. The workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd.
The memo from the consultant the city is paying to do the general plan update — DeNova Group — to the citizen members makes no specific reference to historic buildings that are contained in the conservation and open space but does specifically ask the members “which priorities are not addressed in the existing general plan?”
The priorities are actually addressed on pages 156 and 157 of the general plan adopted in 2003 as Resource Conservation polices 39 through 42. The issue is they have never been addressed setting the stage that they will again be dutifully included in an update to meet state requirements then promptly forgotten.
Those policies as stated include:
uThe city shall set as a priority the protection and enhancement of Manteca’s historically and architecturally significant buildings.
uThe city shall work with property owners seeking registration of historical structures as historical landmarks or listing on the Register of Historic Sites.
uThe city shall prepare and adopt a Historical Preservation Ordinance.
The late Ken Hafer — considered by many to be the dean of Manteca history — worked with volunteers and the city to come up with an inventory of historically significant buildings and sites in Manteca with the idea that they would at least be officially identified and possibly steps taken to protect some of them. Nothing concrete came from that effort.
The general plan existing conditions report provided by DeNova Group notes there are 95 cultural resources that span prehistoric and historic periods in the Manteca area that range from a Native American village site to historic period railroads, schools, buildings, and single family homes. The 95 sites are identified in the Central California Information Center files of the California Historical Resources Information System. They include schools such as Lincoln and Lindbergh, the City of Manteca municipal water tower, the former Tidewater Southern Railway, and East Union Cemetery to the old magnesium plant site where Amazon is now opening a Prime delivery distribution center on Louise Avenue.
There are also six buildings listed on the San Joaquin County Historic Property Data File Directory including the Bedquarters building — the oldest commercial building in Manteca.
IOOF is arguably
The two-story brick structure was built 103 years ago as an International Order of Odd Fellows Hall (IOOF).
It is arguably one of the most — if not the most — significant historic building in Manteca. It is where the Manteca Baord of Trade — the forerunner to the City of Manteca.
A cross between today’s city council and chamber of commerce, the board’s main goal was to promote the community that had not yet been incorporated. The American model of board of trades was based on a government form first employed in England in 1696 under King William III to handle the administration of unincorporated towns.
It was on the first floor where Bedquarters is now located where early municipal decisions were made such as installing warning bells at the railroad crossings, establishing fire protection, promoting Manteca at both the State Fair in Sacramento and Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1914, and the launching of the first Boy Scout Troop. The board also accepted the donation of land for the first Manteca park — Baccilieri Park — that is just south of downtown. The board worked tirelessly to promote farming with the development of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District system. They also rejected allow any more sign boards around the city, complaining that they were becoming an eye-sore.
It is also where the decision was made to seek an election to incorporate Manteca as a city. The town by 1917 had grown from 300 when the board was first organized in 1909 to just over 1,000 residents.
Despite the historic significance of the IOOF building, there is not even a plaque noting its importance or an official status granted it as a historic site by the city.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org