Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
The City of Manteca is working on its housing element as part of the General Plan amendment that will occur later this fiscal year. The housing element is a blue print for the City’s policies addressing housing programs for the maintenance, improvement and development of housing for all of its citizens.
Besides pointing out the obvious that Manteca has become a bedroom community for those working outside of town, the housing element prepared by the consultant Mintier Harnish also mentioned that 46% of all households in Manteca has cost burdens greater than 30% of their income. Low income in Manteca in 2014 is a combined income of $33,150 to $53,050. Anything below those incomes are considered very low and extreme low; people in these “in-come” brackets are waitresses, kindergarten school teachers, cashiers, security guards, people working at fast food establishments and other low income earners. With a median home sale price of $315,000 in 2014 very few of people in the low and below income brackets are able to afford a home.
In spite of adding affordable housing as a policy in its 2004 housing element, Manteca is far behind on the RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation) needs basis. According to RHNA requirements Manteca needs 459 units in the extremely low, 466 in the low and 653 in the low income category. That is a total of 1,578 units shy for the Matecans living on the lower end of the income scale.
The housing element for 2015-2023 doesn’t have inclusionary zoning as a policy solution. Inclusionary zoning programs, require developers to sell a certain percentage of newly developed housing units at below market rates to lower income households, it is a way to promote housing affordability without raising taxes or using public funds. In exchange for building affordable housing, developers typically receive regulatory flexibility such as expedited permitting, reduced permit fees, increased allowable densities, reduced parking requirements, relaxed development standards (i.e., reduced setbacks, narrower street widths, etc). Cities may also provide one or more financial incentives or ‘cost offsets’ to developers such as below-market rate construction loans, or tax-exempt mortgage financing for low- and moderate-income homebuyers.
Proponents of this policy see it as a tax on new housing that will pass the burdens of inclusionary zoning on to housing consumers, housing producers, and landowners. Although debate over the merits of inclusionary zoning has continued for nearly three decades, communities that have these zoning ordinances have not stopped building homes at market prices. New homes prices have gone up steadily with market demand. June of this year the California Supreme Court upheld an inclusionary housing ordinance adopted by the City of San Jose (California Building Industry Association v, City of San Jose). The San Jose ordinances established in 2011,required residential developments to set aside 15% of units in developments with 20 or more units as affordable. The obligation could also be met by constructing affordable units off site or by paying an in-lieu fee. These in-lieu fees could be used to construct or maintain existing affordable housing units.
Another aspect of the lack of affordable housing is increased of homelessness. According to HUD, the shortage of affordable housing are most severe for units affordable to renters with extremely low incomes. It has led to high rents in our City and has put people at high risk to be homeless.
Over the years Manteca has built some affordable housing units and developers like Raymus are sponsors of the HOPE project, building transitional units. But as the City is rapidly growing with single family residential units (R-1 housing) with an average price of $315,000; we the community that calls itself the Family City must do more and must do better. Putting inclusionary housing as one of its policy goals would be a huge step into the right direction.