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Amazon Effect, Southland Road, Manteca’s non-existent good neighbor policy & karma
An aerial view taken three years ago shows how the City of Manteca development is bumping up against rural neighborhoods to the northeast.

Pity the City of Manteca’s stepchildren.

They’re called rural Manteca residents.

It is true they are not city residents.

They aren’t city property taxpayers. And they aren’t city voters.

But they are neighbors.

And by the way they see themselves treated by the city they couldn’t be blamed if they think Great Wolf visitors with their wallets full of vacation dollars are treated a lot better than simply being someone who drops taxable dollars in Manteca stores and restaurants on almost a daily basis as well as being a part of the fabric that holds the community together.

The latest rural residents to get the bum’s rush are those along Southland Road. It was also those along the rural county segment of Cottage Avenue. They get to enjoy growth Manteca has approved making Lathrop Road-Cottage Avenue a de facto bypass of Main Street to travel from the city’s northern reaches to the Target-Home Depot shopping area as well as the adjoining promised land of fast food.

Is Manteca growth dumping too much traffic on narrow county roads because the city staff is fixated on keeping a tourniquet on Main Street through downtown? No problem. Blame it on developers not putting in enough shopping centers on the north side. Perhaps Target, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, and others will open second Manteca locations.

The city seems to think they aren’t the problem. Guess again. Not only are they approving projects but they have their designs on the rural areas around the city in long range planning via Identifying areas as urban reserves in the general plan.

In case anyone is wondering the term “urban reserves” is not planning lingo for perpetual countryside of orchards, dairies, and farms broken up by 2 acre parcels.

What had Manteca’s neighbors that back up to the city’s north eastern limits irked Tuesday was a bid by Trumark Homes to use an updated 2005 traffic study to alter a 495 home project originally dubbed Shadowbrook so the developer could change lot uses to cash in more robustly on the hot housing market. This would require dumping more traffic on Southland Road.

Yes, we are talking about converting “only” 45 lots from age-restricted housing for those over 55 to regular housing.

Neighbors Rick Wohle and Dino Cunial may not be traffic engineers like the ones the city has used to allow the flawless addition of gems like Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s to Manteca but they aren’t idiots.

The max an age-restricted housing unit is likely to have is two drivers, if that. A new home selling in the price range Trumark appears to be aiming for likely has a couple of teen or young adult drivers living at home as well as parents.

They clearly are going to be making a lot more trips each day than a couple living in an age-restricted house.

Given they aren’t stupid Wohle and Cunial probably realize the Stone Age traffic consultants the city hires don’t take the “Amazon Effect” into account. It certainly is clear the updated 2005 traffic study didn’t.

What is the Amazon Effect?

The best way to describe it is at one point in October during an hour-long mid-afternoon stretch there were three different Amazon delivery trucks, a United Parcel truck, a Federal Express van, and at least three different delivery drivers for everything from Domino’s Pizza to contractors for who knows what that converged in the 400 block of California Avenue. (For those at 1001 West Center Street that is a street in Manteca.)

There were almost as many traffic movements on the street as people going to and from their homes during the same time frame.

Rest assured that was not factored into what traffic Southland Road residents will now enjoy by the city backtracking on promises previous city management labored to secure.

The attitude of the city came across loud and clear when a staff member noted the traffic would only add perhaps 15 or so cars an hour and that they wished they had such light traffic where they lived which, by the way, isn’t in Manteca.

The point they were making was it will be a lot less than it could be.

While that is true, we’re talking about a country road where Manteca has oozed out to not only touch it with development but dump traffic on it that clearly alters the characteristics of what the land is zoned for in the first place.

Oh, that’s right. It’s in the county not the city so it’s not Manteca’s problem. Fair enough but they should keep that in mind if Lathrop one day approves an industrial development that dumps trucks on Manteca streets.

Actually, what does the city really care about controlling truck movements? The commitment city leadership made two purges ago in 2018 made to get a truck study done and official truck routes in place within a year should answer that question.

Mayor Ben Cantu is known for telling people the obvious that change — read that growth — is inevitable and one can’t expect their rural neighborhoods such as along Peach Avenue to remain that way for ever. But Cantu at least asked staff if anyone at city hall had given any thought to impacts on the Cottage/Southland intersection and requiring a developer to address them.

Council member Dave Breitenbucher dismissed that as not being the city’s concern as it is away from the project.

Funny but traffic impacts on key intersections away from subdivisions are factored into in-city projects where Manteca requires developers to either make improvements or set aside money for future work to address problems the traffic they are generating create.

The big difference is it’s not their problem; it’s the county’s problem. Odd, but the city just two years ago working with a developer got the county’s permission without working up a sweat to improve a rural section of Tinnin Road that the roughly 1,400-home Griffin Park neighborhood now underway would impact.

The intersection at Cottage and Southland has clearly been impacted by projects the city has approved over the years and will approve.

You know what they say about karma. What is happening on Cottage and to a lesser extent on Southland is a repeat of Woodward Avenue, Airport Way and Lathrop Road and what is now starting to surface on segments of Austin Road.

The city for years approved developments that dumped more and more traffic on those county roads until growth got to the point they were in the city limits.

Not only did the city inherit roads that growth they allowed to generate created massive traffic count jumps that pulverized what were basically roads built to lighter county standards and use, but the city lost opportunities to have growth it blessed pay something toward needed improvements additional traffic would ultimately require.

Give it time. The chickens will come home to roost with what Manteca is doing today to Southland Road and Cottage Avenue.


 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at