Credit Dave Breitenbucher for saying what people need to hear instead of what they want to hear.
People diametrically opposed to the city allowing another 738 homes to be built in Manteca made their case to the City Council on Tuesday.
The Hat Ranch project should be killed — as if that is possible under current California law — because:
*It would add to existing traffic congestion especially on the Main Street corridor.
*It would eliminate vineyards that back up to their homes.
*It could potentially devalue their homes.
*It would rob them of their views of the mountains.
*It would further “overtax” infrastructure.
After listening to their points, Breitenbucher made it clear he understood their concerns.
He was raised south of the 120 Bypass before there was a 120 Bypass.
He said he understood the problems growth posed.
Breitenbucher added he deals with the Main Street congestion when he visits his mother who still lives south of the 120 Bypass.
Then he delivered the truth in four words: “You are the problem.”
He wasn’t being flippant.
He wasn’t being arrogant.
He wasn’t being mean.
He was being factual.
Breitenbucher went on to explain there was no traffic congestion south of the 120 Bypass until people started moving there, primarily from the Bay Area
They bought tract homes built on land that “robbed” others there long before them of their views.
They drive the cars that created the congestion.
There wasn’t a single tract home south of the 120 Bypass 26 years ago.
Union Road was just an overcrossing — no access ramps — until 28 years ago.
Woodward Park was farmed 30 years ago.
You get the picture.
Breitenbucher also added the city is working toward resolving the problems.
And, by all estimations, the Hat Ranch with its robust development agreement that council members led by Mayor Gary Singh took the lead in shaping the bottom line and not staff is the new gold standard Manteca has been working toward.
The final Hat Ranch development plans couples with its development agreement is — as Mayor Singh has proclaimed — the template for making sure that Manteca’s leaders can say with a straight face that growth is paying its own way.
Not so for many of the homes built south of the 120 Bypass since 1998.
It is because the city for years— under a direction from elected officials to keep fees low to make sure housing was affordable — shortchanged the community.
As such, it created a deficit in paying for needs that growth generated.
Perhaps the most bizarre claim Tuesday was that somehow the homes that will be sold will undermine the value of existing homes.
To cover general infrastructure on and off the 187 acres being development plus pay for a wide array of add on fees to make the city whole, each and every home built in the Hat Ranch upfront will be slapped with a $68,306 tab.
That excludes grading, land and planning costs, and the construction of the actual home.
Then there is the ongoing yearly add-in fee to pay additional for police, firefighters, and street upkeep that those in existing neighborhoods bordering the Hat Ranch won’t pay.
Given the growth fees are indexed for inflation and construction costs aren’t dropping, it is highly unlikely that the halfplexes will even sell for less than $500,000 when foundations are finally poured.
In case anyone is wondering, various mortgage sites that delve into such projections indicate the borrower of a $500,000 house with no equity to transfer would have to make at least $14,200 a month to buy it.
That’s a household income of $170,400 — more than double the Manteca average.
Of course, few people buy new homes any more without equity from an existing home they own — or more accurately are paying a mortgage on.
That means the buyers of even the most attainable homes at the Hat Ranch will be like those that fear the Hat Ranch project will destroy their house value while robbing them of farmland to gaze at over their backyard fence.
It should be noted Breitenbucher doesn’t resent growth.
He accepts it.
That, however, doesn’t mean he likes everything that it brings.
It clearly eliminated the childhood Manteca he loved.
Breitenbucher, when he first ran for office in 2018, staked out a middle position based on what good moves he had seen Manteca make while noting there were other needs not adequately being addressed.
He said that’s because during his lifetime in Manteca — he was the fifth baby to be born at Manteca Hospital that is now Doctors Hospital of Manteca — he has seen a lot of positive changes.
But at the same time he said Manteca had issues that need to be addressed while making sure it can retain its community feeling as it grows.
“Let’s work together to make Manteca a better place,” Breitenbucher noted back in 2018 when he launched his candidacy.
It is gravitating toward that middle ground that has served Breitenbucher well and serves the community the best.
The Hat Ranch along with other projects in the pipeline — via the dollars they will bring — will address existing growth-related issues.
That’s because the price of improvements — such as upgrading major arterials and revamping interchanges — are spread out among all homes that are being built.
But in the case of roads south of the 120 Bypass, many of those homes that people live in now escaped being slapped with adequate fees to cover their fair share of the tab.
After learning the earliest that homes could be built if everything fell in line and sewer allocations were available and finding out it was three years, Breitenbucher offered his final thoughts on the subject
There was no hint of malice, sarcasm, and such when he delivered them in a tone that would do Sgt. Joe Friday of the TV series “Dragnet” fame proud.
They had “three more years” to enjoy their views of the mountains and grape vineyards, so enjoy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org