“Fair and sensible growth! Let our voices be heard.” The roadside signs containing those messages then direct readers to the website, SJneighborsUnited.org.
The roughly 4x20 signs are posted along roadsides in rural south Manteca, the area most impacted by the topics contained in the organization’s website.
The website does not list any names connected to the organization. Neither are there any phone numbers or email addresses. Just an introduction as to what the group is all about and its purposes which reads:
“We are residents of San Joaquin County and we support fair and sensible growth. With growth comes new jobs, increased property values, higher standards of living, and opportunities for everyone. But without responsible growth and good planning, we are liable to get increased pollution, overcrowded roadways, poor water quality, and a loss of farming land that can’t be replaced.”
The reader is then encouraged to read through several pages of information that revolve around various hot-button issues such as how to identify environmental impacts relating to growth, groundwater, natural water flows and irrigation, new housing, flooding, agricultural resources, storm water, sewer and water treatment.
The website contains an extensive collection of information, complete with footnotes detailing their sources, that elaborates on some of the issues surrounding each topic with the obvious intent of arming concerned residents to do something about them. And that is exactly what the organization wants people to do by encouraging them to:
u contact your local representatives and speak up;
u attend open meetings and get involved, and;
u when requests for public comments are asked for, make a comment.
The introduction concludes with the urgent message, “the time to be heard is now.”
The topic under the heading, flooding, is one example that emphasizes that urgency.
“Various properties in the county were last flooded in 1997. In particular, the area south of Manteca had numerous properties impacted by flood waters.
“It appears that the Raymus Expressway will be built in conjunction with a flood levee to protect the expressway and properties located north of the proposed roadway. That creates concern with many residents south of Manteca and causes them to question the impact that the Expressway/levee will place on increasing the elevation of flood waters on properties located south of the Expressway/levee in the event of a levee break.
“With that in mind, it seems likely that some properties that did not experience flood damage in 1997 could be impacted by future San Joaquin River levee breaks due to the displaced flood water effect resulting from development.”
One of the footnotes on the website contains information on the completion date and project description of the proposed Raymus Expressway. This controversial project, intended to connect McKinley Avenue to Austin Road at the Highway 99 and 120 Bypass interchange where a business park is being planned for future development, will greatly impact agricultural lands and properties based on road alignments under current plants.
The person behind the roadside signs is Manteca businessman Marty Harris, according to sources contacted including staff at his office. His organization also has been mentioned at Manteca City Council meetings.
Harris, who has always been a big supporter of youth activities and projects, was not in his office late Friday afternoon and was not available for comment.