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Manteca nixes apartments
Council allows more big single family homes
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Southwest Manteca — an area the city is getting ready to spend $150 million for flood protection so developers can continue building — is being turned into the exclusive domain of large single family homes aimed at luring Bay Area buyers.

The city over the years has backed down on plans for a “town center” with retail, services and employment centers surrounded by apartments and then single family homes along a new alignment of McKinley Avenue. The change favored more single family homes.

Then on Tuesday the council on a 4-1 vote with Richard Silverman dissenting made room for bigger homes at The Trails on the western end of Woodward Avenue. They allowed Danville-based Next Bay Properties to eliminate 192 townhouses and 280 apartments from their previously approved project. Instead they will build 1,178 single family homes on lots ranging from 5,225 to 15,520 square feet.

The city has long touted the need for workforce housing that consists primarily of apartment rentals and entry level homes that are smaller than those being built in The Trails project.

Developer Jay Utal said his firm originally wanted to build apartments but market conditions have changed to one favoring single family homes.

“Market conditions change,” Silverman countered noted economic conditions more conducive to building apartments is likely to happen in the future.

Silverman said that he and his wife Linda called four apartment complexes over the weekend and found that there were no units for rent. He added Manteca needs to provide housing opportunities for its workforce and others that can’t afford to buy or own single family residences.

In respond to an inquiry from Councilman Vince Hernandez, Community Development Director Fredric Clark said the city was meeting state mandates to provide affordable housing. Clark noted the city has land for 4,200 single family homes set aside in its housing element and land for 1,600 multi-family residences such as apartments. That set aside for apartments exceeds state requirements, Clark noted.

The answer satisfied Hernandez that the city was working toward providing affordable housing.

A survey of new home builders in Manteca show a majority of the buyers are now from west of the Altamont Pass. Six years ago at the height of the housing crisis 9 out of 10 buyers of new homes were from Manteca or the Northern San Joaquin Valley. And when prices heat up as they are now — the market for new family home sales in Manteca historically becomes the exclusive domain of Bay Area families desperate to escape the tight and stratospheric housing market of San Jose and the East Bay.

 Manteca apartment rents increased a record 13.7 percent in 2014 based on a Bulletin survey conducted in January.

That is a bigger jump than for resale housing as the average closed escrow last year rose 11.5 percent over 2013.

One bedroom and one bathroom apartments with 727-square feet at Paseo are commanding $1,185 a month or $100 more than the nearest competitor which is Laurel Glenn on Button Avenue. Laurel Glenn’s one bedroom and one bathroom floor plan recorded the biggest jump percentagewise for all apartments going up 24 percent or $210 a month.

Paseo’s three bedroom and two bathroom units with 1,217 square feet that includes a garage are renting for $1,670 a month.

On average you will pay $283 more a month to rent a one bedroom and one bathroom apartment in Manteca compared in Modesto and $293 more a month compared to Modesto. But compared to the San Jose average Manteca is a bargain. One bedroom apartments go for an average $2,154 or almost 120 percent more per month.

It is $318 more expensive on average to rent a one bedroom apartment in Manteca than Stockton and $287 more expensive for a two bedroom. San Jose two bedrooms average $2,701 a month. 

The higher prices reflect a shortage of rental opportunities in Manteca.

When it comes to the region, Manteca’s 19.2 percent of multi-family units in communities over 20,000 is one of the lowest topped only by Tracy at 17.56 percent. That is lower than the United States at 31.8 percent, California at 38.0 percent, Stockton at 33.7 percent, and Lodi at 35.2 percent.

A study issued in 2013 by economists at the University of Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center credited the higher percentage of single family homes in Manteca and Tracy to the “commute-centric southern San Joaquin County.”

And, according to previous studies by the forecasting center, renters are paying the price in Manteca.

While Manteca has a big demand for more apartments, developers have noted the high fees for building in California make it tough to financially pencil such projects out.