The Manteca City Council on Tuesday is likely to vote to increase future apartment rents, make it more difficult for young people entering the workforce to rent let alone buy a home in Manteca, and widen the housing gap between the haves and have nots.
At the same time they will make a mockery of the city’s affordable housing policy, make their campaign promises regarding finding affordable housing solutions essentially an empty crock of lies, and continue the slow transformation of Manteca from an all encompassing community to one that is more middle class with the working class — not those in poverty but those working for a living — a disappearing commodity.
They will do so when they embrace a request by a Bay Area developer to alter previously approved plans for the 477-acre The Trails residential project at the western end of Woodward Avenue south of Oakwood Lake Shores.
It was originally presented as a 1,650 housing unit endeavor with 1,178 single family homes, 192 townhouses or garden homes and 280 apartments. A big deal was made at the time of how the housing mix would serve multiple markets from home buyers to those who were raised in Manteca and go to work here but can’t find a place they can afford to live in here.
Five years later apparently Manteca’s chronic affordable housing problem has been solved and there’s more than enough housing diversity here, so says Next Bay Properties out of Alamo.
On Tuesday they are asking the City Council to allow them to jettison the apartments and townhouses and increase lot sizes (and housing prices at the same time). They want to build 1,163 single family homes and nothing else. And given the single family home count is even less now than in 2000 despite having more land to spread them cross, it is clear entry level buyers aren’t going to be served by The Trails either.
And as an added bonus for Manteca residents, the development agreement allows the future residents to be water hogs when it comes to residential landscaping. Why not, since the market the developer is aiming for is clearly middle class with high paying Bay Area jobs and plenty of dough to buy upgrades and sweeten a builder’s bottom line.
The vote embracing what Next Bay Properties wants to do is virtually a certain thing. The Manteca City Council in the past 30 years has never said no to a developer on a general plan change to increase single family housing even though it goes against established city growth and housing policies as reflected in the costly document the city puts together every 10 years.
They typically agree with developers’ argument “that is what the market demands” and contend they are powerless to do anything else but roll over and allow a profit-driven entity shape Manteca.
Then when the housing crunch squeezes those who want to live and work in Manteca or the sons and daughters of those who live in McMansions can’t find housing either to rent or to purchase the council goes into teeth gnashing soapbox mode saying it’s a pity and that they must work to find an affordable housing solution. They then follow up by doing nothing except go through the motions of complying with state mandates to pay consultants to put together a bunch of mumble jumble saying what they plan to do which of course they never do.
In fairness, Councilman Richard Silverman has never had an opportunity to participate in the Manteca City Council affordable housing charade. That’s not the case for Mayor Steve DeBrum, Councilwoman Debby Moorhead, or Councilman Vince Hernandez. Recently elected councilman Mike Morowit doesn’t get a pass either. He served on the Planning Commission and should have an even keener sense of the affordable housing quandary.
All five council members live in single family homes. As such they may believe that is where everyone else wants to live as well and somehow can afford to do so short of a return to liar loans.
So why is the market argument a Trojan house to maximize developer’s profit?
It takes time to build apartment complexes as the financing is much different. The market today may not be suitable for them but thanks to the action the council is likely to take on Tuesday when the market does get to that point, Manteca won’t have the developable land set aside to allow apartments to be built.
A builder makes the most money on a two-story single family home than any other housing unit they can build.
Besides, if the council hasn’t noticed Manteca has more than 12,000 proposed single family homes somewhere in the approval pipeline. There are plenty of opportunities to meet the current demand for two decades or so.
Over the years previous councils have made building apartments next to impossible. First it was how they zoned land for apartments with low density requirements making them cost prohibitive. Then they did what they are preparing to do Tuesday night — they converted set aside apartment land into single family homes.
The reason why Manteca apartment rents are so high — they went up 13.7 percent — compared to Modesto, Stockton, and other valley cities is because there is already an inadequate number to meet demand.
As a percentage of housing stock, the only places in the Northern San Joaquin Valley doing a worse job than Manteca is Lathrop and Ripon.
So when your rent is going through the roof in 2020 or your kids can’t find an apartment to rent in Manteca, thank the City Council.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.