The state-mandated housing element that’s part of the Manteca General Plan — the city’s blueprint for growth — is a document fashioned for and by policy wonks.
The document is supposed to assure that all community housing needs are addressed. But whether it is actually implemented to the point of effectively addressing all the needs the document says it will is a point of contention among many affordable and workplace housing advocates. Among them is Manteca Planning Commission member Leonard Smith.
Smith spoke last week before the council asking them to make sure “the document isn’t just put on a shelf to gather dust.” It is similar to pleas made over the past 20 years when Manteca went through housing element updates as required by law.
City staff contends they meet state requirements by making sure that there is adequate land zoned for affordable and workplace housing opportunities.
Critics say that while that may meet statutory requirements it isn’t enough as in reality Manteca falls significantly short of meeting its goals. And at every housing element update through the years they have proclaimed housing goals are being met when the marketplace says something entirely different.
Critics also contend the housing element’s background data has misleading information. For example, currently the city’s four largest at-market apartment complexes are renting one bedroom apartments for between $1,000 and $1,400 a month. The city opted not to survey those four complexes and instead focused on older complexes where one bedroom rents range from $735 to $930. The two complexes with one bedroom apartments that are listed are Park Place and Vista Verde. Park Place is the newer of the two having been built in the late 1980s. Its apartments currently rent for $980 — $50 more than when the rent data for the report was collected four months ago. Vista Verde Apartments are more than 45 years old. They are renting for $20 more a month than listed in the housing element.
The Manteca Planning Commission will review the housing element draft when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
The eight main housing goals are to:
promote the development of affordable housing.
promote mixed-use, infill, and downtown housing development.
provide a range of housing types, densities, and designs to meet existing and projected housing needs for all economic segments of the community.
encourage the maintenance and continued improvement of the existing housing stock and neighborhoods.
provide adequate housing opportunities for persons with special needs including seniors, those with disabilities, single parents, large persons, those lacking permanent shelter and residents with extremely low income.
upromote equal opportunity to secure safe and affordable housing.
encourage energy efficient residential and neighborhood deigns that reduce total housing costs by lowering ongoing operation and maintenance costs.
ensure that housing element programs are implemented on a timely basis and the progress of each program is monitored and evaluated annually.
The housing element draft contains various polices aimed at achieving those goals as well as economic and housing data on Manteca.