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Put city government campus downtown
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

Last week information gathered from city hall was added to my comments, regarding the amount of RDA investment in new development.  My conservative numbers were based on monies invested by City Hall over a period of time to new development from RDA, sales tax leveraging, fees “adjustments”, new infrastructure and deferments, costs of fending off lawsuits due to new development, and so on.  A simple side-by-side comparison of “investments” made to locate businesses and to new development illustrates who really gets the lion share; with downtown being the negligible recipient.  The $30 million was spent on infrastructure to service the needs of the new development; it was not invested in response to the infrastructure needs of the existing community. 

I was advised that whining for the sake of whining is not a solution, what is my plan for Downtown.  My plan is based on a simple principle — introduction of a reliable source of people will equate to increased customer opportunities.  I use “opportunities” for two reasons.  One, as history as proven many times over, a downtown’s makeup and activity will transition naturally due to the opportunity of an increased consumer base.  Two, I believe that government should assist with infrastructure improvements but it is up to the downtown business owners themselves to take advantage of the new opportunities. 

My plan is simple; construct a multi-use, multi-story governmental services campus in Downtown.  The introduction of hundreds of stable and reliable customers to the downtown area will accelerate the transition of Downtown to a viable and active commercial district at the heart of the community.  The side benefit to Manteca’s residents is that the existing city hall campus (on Center Street) becomes the new community/arts/cultural center and the existing public library becomes a new veteran’s memorial site and community social hall.

How do we pay for it?  Redirect RDA funds and other municipal funding and financing sources, disposal of surplus municipal properties, potential tenant rents, restructure of new development contributions and fees, and the list goes on.  That RDA $30 million or $60 million would be a good start.

Benjamin Cantu
Aug. 22, 2011