Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I want to raise a question that the community and, in particular, our leadership should be seriously pondering. Do we really need another 800 market-priced homes on a site that is better suited for a much-needed local employment center?
Let me explain. The 212-acre site located on the southwest corner of Louise Avenue and Airport Way (across from the school district offices) is currently planned and partially entitled for the development of approximately 800 new homes and some commercial. I question the judgment of those persons that lead to the development of this particular site as homes which will further negatively compound the disparity between the lack of local jobs and the availability of affordable housing in this community.
While the growing lack of affordable housing in this community is important, it is a different subject for another day. The purpose of this letter is to point out the obvious —there are tens of thousands of new homes planned and entitled on lands north of Lathrop Road, south of Highway 120 and east of Highway 99. Why then is it necessary to sacrifice 212 acres of potentially high-grade employment opportunities for homes that are clearly not needed now or decades from now? I would question the thought process behind such a decision, except that I already know the answer. The Developer is simply looking at the profit margin and not whether it will meet a community need; the City Council is counting the “big bucks,” and relying that the developer knows best; and staff is simply following “processes.” None of these people have broadened their focus enough to see that “all” the utility infrastructure suited from a major business/industrial employment campus presently exists along the edges of the site. This is the only remaining site within the community with such an opportunity.
The site is encompassed by a major natural gas pipeline along the eastern edge, a major electrical transmission power line along the eastern and northern edges, a regional fiber optic cable system along the westerly edge, the Country’s western railroad mainline along the west edge, and major thoroughfare roadway connections along the north and east edges to Highway 120, Interstate 5, and the Regional Airport. All of these elements afford a great many options for types of business and industrial high-tech and high-density employment opportunities. Can you imagine the positive employment transformation that would occur in this community within our lifetime if this acreage were developed as a jobs center, not just more homes?
Some will point out that just up the road along Airport Way we have a new industrial development under construction that will provide new employment opportunities. Yes there is, I am well aware of the area and its contribution to the local workforce’s inability to afford the available “market driven” housing in this community, and its massive consumption of land with marginal employment numbers.
In 2012 I developed a sketch plan for a modern planned business/industrial employment campus with an affordable housing element for the subject land area. It’s time for the Council to grow beyond the cradling arms of the housing market.