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Do you know the way to Manteca? We’re about to get Googled big time
diridon station

Get ready for Manteca to be Googled.

And it won’t be for an Internet search.

The firm that has become a pronoun is moving closer to padding its lead as the largest employer in the Silicon Valley.

Google has been carefully piecing together a plan to build a 6 million square foot campus in the heart of San Jose around the Diridon Station. The project would ultimately add as many as 20,000 Google employees to the 35,000 already employed in the Silicon Valley.

San Jose officials are working toward a plan to make Diridon Station into a hub for the California high speed rail system and light rail along with what it now serves — Caltrain, Amtrak and the Altamont Corridor Express.

The entire Greater Bay Area — that includes now for all practical purposes South San Joaquin County — should rejoice regardless of what issues the advent of another 20,000 jobs will create. Google along with other high-tech stalwarts such as Facebook and Apple aren’t abandoning California as the old guard titans of commerce such as Bank of America have done over the years for places where the cost of doing business is lower.

It’s a nod to the unique synergy of the Silicon Valley along with the Bay Area lifestyle as well as the unparalleled access to nature’s wonders and the weather.

So how is Manteca going to get Googled?

Many cities in the Bay Area have been creating more jobs in the last decade than housing. San Jose is near the top of the list with 14 percent job growth from 2010 to 2019 compared to 7 percent growth of housing units during the same time.

That job-housing gap has been fueling growth this side of the Altamont Pass.

While that might be obvious to most people, what isn’t is the locale that for a variety of reasons is going to be absorbing a lot of the job-housing gap for the Bay Area going forward.

Some communities are built out so the only alternative is to build up. It can be a slow costly experience.

Other communities have growth caps that come into play whether it is Morgan Hill or Tracy. While Manteca has a growth cap, it is tied to sewer allocations. The 3.9 percent annual rate is based on an ever increasing number — the inventory of housing units that exist on Dec. 31 of the previous year. Basically that means Manteca in 2020 can see almost 1,100 housing units built before the growth cap is reached. That translates into 3,500 more residents a year. Currently the city is adding close to 2,000 residents a year.

Another limiting factor for housing growth is how much capacity and how easy it is to expand basic essential services such as water and wastewater. There is no other city in the region that’s positioned better than Manteca when it comes to wastewater and water.

Then there is space to grow. Manteca has it as do cities like Tracy and Lathrop. Tracy though has a significantly more restrictive growth cap. Lathrop is hemmed in to a degree although another large scale development would have the ability to breach Paradise Cut.

The other issue is access or transportation.

Keep in mind that Google wants to create 20,000 jobs next to the Diridon Station. Starting as soon as 2023 you will be able to hop on an extension of ACE service in downtown Manteca as well as Ripon, Modesto, and Ceres along with current ACE stops and be dropped at the door step of a 6 million square foot Google campus in downtown San Jose.

Toss in the fact the median Google salary is $250,000. That’s almost three and a half times the median household income in Manteca. While that is not an apple to apple comparison given there is no reliable Manteca pay data for jobs based in the city, the Google number represents what the median pay is for one of their workers while Manteca’s median income of $71,324 is for households that typically range from one to five people and could have multiple wage earners.

Not all Google employees are going to want the Bay Area lifestyle per se. They also may want to raise families in a less crowded area. That is where the growing sea of free-standing single family homes popping up in Manteca and Lathrop come into play.

It is clear where the biggest and most sustainable growth of such housing is and will continue to occur in the southern portion of the Northern California Mega Region — Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy.

That doesn’t mean only families are headed this way. Who do you think the majority of the people are who are snapping up one bedroom apartments in luxury complexes in Tracy and Manteca that are renting for $2,000 plus a month? They are those with decent wages — $80,000 plus a year — that are getting squeezed out of comparable San Jose apartments commanding $3,000 a month of half of $80,000 a year before taxes.

Manteca, and to a slightly lesser degree, Lathrop, are the communities best situated to handle housing growth in general and traditional free standing single family homes specifically when it comes to that triggered by Silicon Valley job growth.

Keep in mind that what happens is new Google employees will likely displace those from other rental housing in the Bay Area plus the fact other firms will be creating new jobs at the same time in the Bay Area.

What makes this tech job growth different for Manteca that that of Apple or Facebook and other firms is the fact The Family City is tied directly to the envisioned Google campus for 20,000 workers by the umbilical cord we call ACE train service.

Those workers could literally bicycle or walk to the Manteca Transit Center on Moffat Boulevard, take what will eventually be less than a two hour ride during which they can work or sleep or simply relax, and then walk to their jobs.

And they can do it living in comparable housing that based on today’s prices is half as expensive to buy and a third less expensive to rent while raising families in a less crowded city.

It might just be apropos when 2030 rolls around for anyone doing a remake of Dionne Warwick’s classic “Do Know the Way to San Jose” to change the destination to Manteca.

That’s because back in 1968 when Burt Bacharach wrote the lyrics there was lots of room in San Jose plus you could breathe there.

With a million plus people that is no longer the case.