By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
We need broad base of housing
Placeholder Image
Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
In 2008, I raised the issue of two communities in one--the new subdivisions and the existing older community.  There is plenty of evidence where communities have grown without much consideration given to their existing older neighborhoods and then after decades of neglect it was necessary to come back to these older neighborhoods to address entrenched issues such as declined property values, crime, infrastructure maintenance, property maintenance, etc.  Many of these problems could have been avoided if the governing body were not so narrowly focused on committing nearly all funding resources to the new development while neglecting the existing.  I will say again, new development is good and necessary to maintain a viable and well-balanced community.  However, the commitment of funding resources should be a balance of the new and the old; it should not be willful pursuit of the new without accounting for the existing neighborhoods.  After decades of hoping that the new development will create the funds necessary to address the needs of the older community a visible return has yet to be achieved.  

Segregating housing types and balkanizing has been around for centuries and is not just an anomaly found in Manteca.  I do agree however that the present governing body needs to correct the ever-expanding imbalance of housing opportunities in Manteca.  Segregating or locating housing types in a community should be a planning effort to create a balanced housing pattern based on a number of factors, such as, availability of services to the residents, traffic patterns, location of retail services, transit systems, etc.  It should not be based on social or standard of living factors.  Because local governing bodies have historically focused on new market driven housing while ignoring the housing needs of the existing community, the state was forced to impose “housing element” requirements to make certain agencies achieve a representative housing balance.  Manteca’s focus in this regard has been limited.

As a common practice, if homebuyers with cash-in-hand will buy a McMansion then the developers will build as many of the larger homes the market will consume.  When marketing efforts to provide new homes to new residents at a price that the market will bear is allowed to be the primary driving force behind the provision of housing opportunities in our community, then, I believe, the governing body has shirked their responsibility to the existing residents.  Housing opportunities and inventory are therefore skewed to the new residents, because it is apparently unprofitable to build homes affordable to the existing residents.  Here again, this is allowed to take place because the primary focus of our governing body is the revenue stream created by the McMansion subdivisions.  

We do not need cheaper housing, what we need is a broad base of housing opportunities that are affordable to the varied economic levels of our existing residents; and we need a city council that has the will to achieve the community-wide goals of the city’s housing element.  I agree the answer is not creating an enclave of workforce housing in the midst of McMansions, but that is where we find ourselves because of the entrenched development culture of today.  The solution is simply for the city council to have the will and to follow the long-term goals and policies of the General Plan, the Housing Element, and the original Growth Management Program, wherein neighborhoods are designed to include a mix of housing opportunities and services.  Over the years, too much tweaking has been done to the underlying foundation of these important community documents that their original purpose has been undermined.

A sprawling horizon of market driven, cookie-cutter, McMansion subdivision development and a revenue stream reliant on such development as a fiscal policy is not the vision of tomorrow.  After decades of setbacks, we need a new approach and a different fiscal policy mindset to be implemented on council.
Benjamin Cantu
Oct. 29, 2009