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New to blight in 10 years
Hearing on expansion of RDA set April 19
This neighborhood that first broke ground about 10 years ago may soon be part of an expanded Manteca Redevelopment Agency. - photo by HIME ROMERO
A drive down Red Pheasant Lane isn’t exactly a trip down Tobacco Road.

The street is in a Manteca neighborhood that didn’t exist at the turn of the century.

The neighborhood southeast of the Airport Way and 120 Bypass interchange was hammered hard during the housing collapse as prices plummeted 60 percent in many instances. Many owners walked away from homes letting landscaping die. In some cases vandals damaged homes. As such it construed blight and a depressed economic area.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton saw an opportunity to put the only economic development tool the state has given cities and counties - the redevelopment agency - to work. The idea is to incorporate the neighborhood and seven other areas in Manteca into the existing Manteca RDA and divert property tax dollars that would normally go to the state into local projects aimed at improving streets, parks, housing and spurring economic growth within the agency’s boundaries.

Critics such as community activist Joe DeAngelis contend that the neighborhood doesn’t fit the blight definition required by state law for it to go into a redevelopment agency. The city - and their special legal counsel - begs to differ noting it meets the criteria of plunging value and rundown property even though not all homes went into disrepair.

Manteca is one of the first cities in California to use dropping property values and subsequent blight to qualify neighborhoods - many that are relatively new - for inclusion in a redevelopment agency. An RDA is designed to fight blight, spur economic growth and use 20 percent of the money it generates to pursue affordable housing opportunities.

The City Council acting as the RDA commission Tuesday night set in motion the next step toward including the neighborhood and seven other areas as part of the Manteca RDA by setting a public hearing for April 19.

At that time, the city will delineate exactly how they determined the blight status of the impacted areas including a strip of land zoned for 400 apartments in southwest Manteca that has a landscaped bike path running in front of barren ground laced with tumbleweeds.

The Manteca RDA is planning two workshops - that are not required under state law - to answer questions impacted property owners may have. Those will take place on March 30 and April 7.

The plan that the RDA commission is advancing specially prohibits the use of eminent domain for the taking of property within the new area.

The assurance that policy provides plus the nuts and bolts of being in an RDA including the fact there is no change in the tax rate will be discussed. The only impact on an owner’s property tax bill is where the property tax dollars will go.

Property owners in the impacted area will be mailed a map of the RDA expansion, notice for the public hearing, a statement regarding the project area, and what is called a citizen’s guide to understanding redevelopment.

The impacted areas are:

•The neighborhoods on the southeast corner of the Airport Way and 120 Bypass interchange.

•The strip of land zoned for more than 400 apartments along Atherton Drive east of Van Ryn Avenue.

•El Rancho Mobile Home Park and a large swath of semi-rural land generally on the northeast quadrant of the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange.

•The neighborhoods between South Main Street, Manteca High, Yosemite Avenue and Moffat Blvd.

•The neighborhood consisting primarily of duplexes and four-plexes immediately east of Doctors Hospital of Manteca.

•The neighborhood and apartments - including the Cherry Lane condos and two other complexes east of Union Road, south of the railroad tracks, west of Walnut Avenue and north of Center excluding the office complexes and city hall.

•The 1970s neighborhoods south of Louise Avenue between the railroads tracks and North Main Street.

•Northeast Manteca neighborhoods east of the Tidewater Bike path and north of Joseph Road.

•Homes and property fronting the north side of Lathrop Road on both side of Union Road.

Originally there were 11 areas being studied but the city determined three of the areas did not meet state criteria for inclusion in an RDA.

Manteca typically gets only 10 cents of every dollar in property tax collected on property not included in an RDA project and 80 cents on the dollar from those that are within the boundaries of an RDA area. That 80 cents includes both RDA tax increment and general fund revenue.