Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
An open letter to Mayor Weatherford and Council Members:
Thank you for the time you devote to serving the people of Manteca. You have done many good things.
I want to see job growth in Manteca and quality development projects. We can and should have both. When evaluating new projects that are proposed for the community, City officials and executive staff must be careful about and mindful of how these projects will impact existing residences and businesses, whether the new project can and will be a good neighbor, and whether they fit harmoniously into the community. New projects must be evaluated on the basis of whether they are good long-term planning choices.
•Union Pacific Intermodal Expansion: As the Bulletin article states, “Oakland’s loss is Manteca’s gain.” Bringing in hundreds of new private-sector jobs to the area should be positive economic growth if local people are hired to fill the jobs. The area needs more higher-paying private-sector jobs. The expansion and spinoff jobs it will create are good things. The question to be asked and addressed is what steps Lathrop and Manteca officials will take to carefully examine the proposed expansion, what impacts on traffic and noise will occur, how will development impact and affect nearby neighborhoods and residents, and how will these impacts be addressed before the project is built, and after it is built?
Say Cheese! : The possible startup of a new cheese factory employing 140 people along Airport Way in Manteca is yet another positive employment opportunity for the area. In the excitement over this project, City officials need to evaluate, among other things, the new job creation for local residents, the traffic impacts of the project (i.e. large number of arriving and departing trucks), cumulative impacts along with adjacent development, and whether there will be any odor issues associated with the plant and its operations. Odor can be a real problem for cheese manufacturers as folks in Williamsburg Virginia recently found out. The cheese plant would be located in the immediate vicinity of the fine Del Webb development, and the cheese factory in that area needs to be compatible with existing and proposed residential areas. If negative impacts of a new cheese operation are found, they must be satisfactorily mitigated in order for the project to go forward.
Downtown: City officials need to be proactive by working with local downtown business owners and operators and the community ( since it is the entire community’s downtown too) to come up with a vision for Manteca’s core area that will make it a vibrant, attractive, job-creating, and a safe asset to the community. Look at what has been done in Lodi, Walnut Creek , Pleasanton, Livermore, and even El Dorado Hills (that built a downtown where none existed previously) as examples of good downtown planning. The policy of “let’s wait and see what happens” or” benign neglect” of its future is not a viable option. Cities that are successful have successful downtowns, and we can have one too with the right vision and implementation strategy development for it.
I respectfully encourage City officials to keep in mind all parts of the City when evaluating new projects and have a solid and inclusive vision of how all parts work together for the benefit of all. The City Council must also ensure that all parts of the City are healthy and safe. A vibrant City is the whole, not just its parts.
David M. Jinkens
May 25, 2012