Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I am 21 years old and was born and raised in Manteca. I now live in the Bay Area, studying Urban Planning at San Jose State University. Growing up, I loved frequent drives throughout the countryside south and east of Manteca, learning to love and enjoy this beautiful part of the state. Anyone who knows Manteca history knows that South County agriculture is at the roots of its existence. I am deeply saddened when reading about the Manteca General Plan with plans to extensively develop roads, homes, and businesses throughout this countryside which so many of us love.
It has long been the failure of the modern city to respect its surrounding lands and only laments at the loss of its countryside when it is finally too late. How ironic is it that Manteca originally developed and grew because of the agricultural economy around it and now turns its back on the same land in the name of growth.
It is the charm of the South County that makes Manteca and its neighboring cities unique, not miles of huge (often empty) tract houses. One only has to drive down Airport Way or South Manteca Road to gain a profound respect and admiration for the sprawling family dairies, rich acres of almond trees, and winding levees that have graced the South County for decades and given it unique character and beauty. On the other hand, one can find almost identical developments of tract houses and landscaped medians across the state and nation: Elk Grove, Rancho Cucamonga, Las Vegas, and Orlando, just to name a very few: Neat and tidy, but far from unique and beautiful.
In my urban planning classes, we learn how larger, more environmentally-friendly cities are today promoting more “infill” development. That is, building up instead of out, improving and redeveloping what we already have and filling in empty gaps within existing boundaries, instead of encroaching on remaining countryside at an alarming rate. Growth and development by themselves are not bad things, but it is whether or not they are used in a wise and thoughtful manner that really matters. The City of Manteca desperately needs to reconsider how it plans its future growth and consider the beauty and history that is all around it before it’s too late.
Brandon Lloyd Wofford
Jan. 7, 2013