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Manteca part of 16-city effort working toward sustainable growth plan
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A regional government consortium consisting of 16 of the San Joaquin Valley’s largest cities from Stockton to Bakersfield is trying to devise a collective approach to “sustainable growth.”

It is a bid to make sure the state mandate outlined in Assembly Bill 32 dubbed The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 doesn’t  severely cripple the local economies of the eight-county region.

The act requires California to comply with the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent or roll them back to 1990 levels by 2020.

The Manteca City Council agreed to be a part of the effort Tuesday but only after a 3-2 split with Mayor Willie Weatherford and Councilman Vince Hernandez dissenting.

The mayor is against adding what he believed would be another layer of government that would further tie the hands of local government and ultimately dictate what could and could not be done with private property in Manteca.

The group of cities is seeking a $5 million Housing and Urban Development grant to plan jointly for sustainable growth that includes a repertoire of concepts including striking a housing and jobs balance. Ultimately the goal is to reduce air pollution to assure that the jurisdictions comply with the state mandate as well as improve the quality of life.

Each city would receive roughly $250,000 to pursue various segments of the plan. Manteca would address climate action plan related issues pertaining to development.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton noted that the odds were good the city ultimately would be forced by Assembly Bill 32 to do the studies anyway. He said being part of the group of cities would be a way of getting the federal government to pay part of the tab. The city would match the HUD funding with staff time.

In a related item, the council supported a League of California Cities resolution seeking to have the state defer its Assembly Bill 32 mandates until such time the economy improves. They also backed a resolution imploring the state to stop imposing unfunded mandates on cities.

Weatherford noted that the only way to meet the Assembly Bill 32 goals was to have jobs close to housing and mass transit.

He noted that San Joaquin County itself is bigger than some states and that if you want a decent job in places like California and Texas you often have to be willing to drive 60 miles.

Councilman Steve DeBrum also expressed concern about AB32 also noted its financial impact on everything from moving goods to market, farming, and cities has not been fully established.