Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I am writing on behalf of the Manteca Environmental Justice Committee. I would like to address the environmental hazards associated with industrial land use and its diesel pollutants on the west side of Airport Way.
Manteca is currently listed as a “Disadvantage Community” related to air quality by the California Air Resource Board (CARB). Due to the fact the prevailing winds blow from the Bay Area through the Carquinez Strait to the valley, we are affected by the pollution from the Bay Area. Also the Port of Stockton, Stockton Airport, Interstate 5, Highway 99, Union Pacific Rail Yard and trains through our city. Also the agricultural chemicals and dust, and the Manteca Unified School District diesel bus shed area.
I believe the industrial land use to the west side of the city will compound an irreversible health risk to the residents of Manteca. The industrial land use would be far better suited to the north or south side of the city. It is a historic practice to have industrial land use south of the residential areas, as to not cause harm to its residents. I have never witnessed an Industrial area located where the prevailing winds blow pollutants toward a residential area.
The alternative land use to the west of Airport Way should be an open space buffer for the industrial area of the City of Lathrop. This use would allow the pollution from Lathrop to be less concentrated and harmful to the residents of Manteca.
I would like to urge the City to adopt a strong policy that prohibits industrial land use annexations or permits without a designated approved STAA Route abutting the project. This would prevent the illegal trucks being forced to use unauthorized streets to access I-5, the 120 Bypass or Highway 99. This would protect both the trucking companies and the residents. No permits should be issued unless the Manteca Police Department can provide a guarantee to the city and residents; they have the manpower and training to write citations for truck drivers who disobey the law. Putting the horse before the cart in the past with the Center Point Project has been proven to create confusion, safety and environmental issues.
There should never be an unauthorized policy that prohibits the Police Department from protecting the Citizens of Manteca as publicly stated by Mayor Ben Cantu. I am also concerned that you are moving forward with the land use map, without the benefit and approval of the City Wide Truck Route Study. The Truck Study should be used as a guiding tool to better guide you for choices of land use. Once again, the city is putting the horse before the cart.
The above issues are of great concern and need to be included in the analysis and the decision-making process of the proposed land use plan. Based on the significant impact that the currently “preferred” plan would have on our environment, community and economy, the City — through its CEQA analysis and its policy choices — must meaningfully consider alternatives to avoid irreparable harm to the region.
Good planning, and policies with forethought today, will prevent health risk and provide safety to the residents of Manteca now and for future generations.