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Buy a bottle of Gnarly Head & keep your fingers crossed that the city can deliver
woodard park
The City of Manteca and Delicato settlement agreement gives Manteca a 50-community park location, something the city has failed to do since identifying the need in a formally adopted park and recreation master plan seven years ago. Shown is one of the playgrounds at the city’s existing community park, Woodward Park.

Mark Aug. 9 2024 on your calendar.

And stash away a limited edition bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel.

It is to celebrate what may end up being decisive, bold moves.

All it takes now is for the Manteca City Council to deliver.

The biggest takeaway from the settlement agreement forged by four businessmen — Mayor Gary Singh and Vice Mayor Mike Morowit representing the people of Manteca and CEO Chris Indelicato and COO Jay Indelicato representing Delicato Family Wines — isn’t the fact it resolved a perceived and likely conflict between future city growth and the sustainability of the winery.

Don’t misunderstand.

That in itself is huge.

What it did was build the framework for a better Manteca future.

And in doing so, it snapped the political paralysis that has stricken Manteca at inopportune times over the years.

It is why we have a library that was designed for a city of 40,000.

It is why we have a hole-in-the-wall police facility that elected leaders declared as being seriously inadequate back in 2002 when Manteca had only 52,000 residents.

And it is why after spending a king’s ransom and devising a parks master plan adopted in 2016 with much fanfare that the city has never taken a single step further regarding big ticket items including a second community park.

I know, I know.

There are pressing basic needs.

There is never enough revenue.

There is never a good time to ask for a tax increase.

An economic slowdown is coming.

Growth may slow down.

The pandemic hit.

A funny thing about all of those excuses is that every other city/community in the South County — Tracy, Lathrop, Ripon, and the likely to be incorporated Mountain House — were dealt almost the same cards.

Yet, they have modern and adequate police stations, teen centers, libraries expanded this century, and a host of other amenities. All have happened as the cities have grown.

Do not misunderstand.

Manteca does a solid job with basic stuff.

It’s is innovative with things such as the food waste to fuel endeavor, the diverging diamond interchange, and a combo surface/ground water system to name a few.

And you can legitimately argue such solutions were forged by municipal staff pressed to do with less than their counterparts in neighboring cities on a per capita basis.

It is why the city has scored solid — and according to more than a few jealous folks in the region — brilliant wins.

Snatching Costco from Lathrop.

Turning a shuttered sugar beet processing plant into an economic juggernaut while Tracy’s still stands as a monumental sore thumb.

Landing Bass Pro Shops.

Snaring Great Wolf by outmaneuvering Bay Area competition.

But when it comes to meeting rising amenities expectations that aren’t out of line with the rising housing market, city leaders have been their own worst enemy.

On one hand, they are Charlie Brown getting ready to kick the ball

But then they morph into Lucy and pull the ball away from themselves at the last possible second after lining everything up to get the game started.

City councils, for better or worse, over the years have often channeled Charlie Brown and Lucy at the same time.

Perhaps it is fear.

Perhaps it is being too conservative.

Or perhaps they listen to much to the Greek Chorus amplified for decades by social media.

Whatever the case, the gun that is the referendum that Delicato secured adequate signatures on to qualify for the Nov. 5, 2024 ballot triggered a series of events.

Those events have moved two long stalled endeavors forward — a holistic truck route vision and a community park — as part of a settlement agreement.

If the benchmarks in that agreement unanimously embraced by the City Council are met by Aug. 9, 2024, Delicato will yank the referendum and drop their lawsuit

That date is 88 days before the Nov. 5, 2024 election.

It is the last day under state law a measure can be submitted for a ballot.

Up until now, there hasn’t been one iota of movement to even identify a second 50-acre community park site even though the council that embraced the concept in 2016 said at the time it was something that needed to start moving forward yesterday.

The general plan the council adopted in July after spending seven years and forking over $1 million plus to know-it-all consultants didn’t identify a second community park site anywhere in Manteca despite having zoning that could take the city to 211,000 residents.

There also were no “colored areas” on the general plan zoning map depicting the general areas where future schools should go.

Yes, the Indelicato family members that are stewards of the winery, were right.

The general plan update was flawed.

And as funny as it may seem, a number of current and past elected leaders had the same general thoughts about the general plan missing the mark in several key instances.

They had every intention of pursuing “corrections” through the four annual amendments the state allows for general plan.

The reason such corrections were perceived to have been needed is the ugly truth about the general plan process.

It involves too many bureaucrats, lawyers, and consultants.

And it doesn’t help that consultants are kissing cousins of government planners either having been one or having gone through the same exact training and education process.

General plans also wax eloquently about lofty goals and offer possible strategies to make them happen.

But they never provide the nuts and bolts of how to do it. That is expected to come later from the council working with city staff. Yet, there is never enough time to do so.

Hence, the general plan strives to protect agriculture but at the end of the day Manteca, and other cities, often do no more than the bare minimum.

The settlement agreement clearly addresses that shortcoming.

What is unique about Manteca’s wake-up call regarding an approach to growth that one might argue is at times just a tad better than sleepwalking is that it wasn’t triggered the way it usually happens.

By that, go back to Manteca in the 1980s and Tracy in the 2000s when those who had recently moved to both communities sparked mini uprisings to force changes in growth policies that led to growth management plans.

This time around the change in how growth is managed and directed came from the agricultural sector.

And the five elected to represent the people of Manteca did the heavy lifting without allowing themselves to being subservient to bureaucrats and lawyers.

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