There is no affordable housing problem in Manteca.
Most folks that work in typical Manteca jobs can afford to rent or buy here.
We know this to be true because a piece of paper at City Hall says it is true.
That paper says Manteca only needs 1,200 apartments to meet the housing needs of those trying to make a living by working in Manteca and not in the Bay Area. The paper also says Manteca has enough land set aside on a map for 1,600 apartments.
Rejoice! The city bureaucrats have met the state bureaucrats’ mandate for conceptual guidelines so therefore problem solved.
So what if apartment rents went up 13.7 percent last year in Manteca while house purchase prices rose just 11.7 percent? So what if a one-bedroom apartment rent jumped between $50 and $180 a month in 2014 at various complexes? So what if there are no apartment vacancies? So what if it costs $293 more a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Manteca than Modesto and $318 more a month than in Stockton because of limited apartments in Manteca?
It doesn’t matter because we’re building homes. Not a mixture of entry level homes and McMansions but big homes. That covers 100 percent of the market, right? Of course that market is pretty exclusive. It’s only people with well-paying jobs from the red-hot Bay Area employment market who can afford them. They come here because we are the de facto affordable housing solution for Pleasanton, San Jose, Fremont, Santa Clara, Dublin, and Concord.
By the way, the 20-somethings and even 30-somethings living on your block with their parents and grandparents while holding down two jobs and are unable to find rental housing in Manteca are a figment of your imagination. Just because there are so many of them doesn’t mean they are real or constitute a problem that elected leaders have to fret over.
Yes, The Trails way out on the western edge of Woodward Avenue probably is not an ideal place for apartments. But the council and developer also jettisoned townhouses. Maybe they didn’t fit in either. But what you were left with was 1,178 lots designed to build homes that are clearly targeted for Bay Area buyers. How does that solve even the at-market housing needs (read that smaller homes) of Manteca workers let alone the affordable housing needs of renters who work here and have the audacity to think they should be able to live here as well? That’s a problem for Stockton, Modesto, and Ceres and not Manteca.
It’s impossible to get apartment financing. That explains why there were 42,163 apartment units built last year in California, according to the Census Bureau.
It’s impossible to make at-market housing such as townhouses and smaller homes pencil out and blend seamlessly into a neighborhood. Just ask developers and the City of Ripon. What they’ve done is just a fluke.
It’s true the world has gone mad, where companies like Apple sit on $178 billion in cash parked primarily overseas and suck up available investment and loan money by borrowing to pay dividends and pay for research and development because they can do so at a lower cost than the taxes they’d have to pay on their squirreled away loot by bringing it back to these shores.
So what is a city like Manteca to do?
Could they work with developers and find ways to reduce upfront costs by waving some fees? Would enticing them with high priority sewer allocation for their single-family homes to get them to build multiple-family housing help?
Let’s not forget the wastewater treatment plant and water system are in Manteca not because of the foresight and investment of developers but due to the residents and property owners of this community.
Making affordable housing happen would require moxie, time, and energy and backbone, standing up for the interests of the most vulnerable namely the working class stiffs in Manteca. It might require some of that out-of-the-box thinking that the city always comes up with to cobble together deals to snare Bass Pro Shops, Great Wolf, and Costco as well as build Big League Dreams.
Besides, the need for Manteca to actively work to make affordable and at-market housing a reality is one of Ben Cantu’s big issues. No one must care enough because they haven’t elected him.
A funny thing about Cantu: Unlike other key department heads and staff at 1001 Center St., he didn’t live out of town when he was working as a city planner nor did he move away in retirement. Whether you liked what he did as a planner, for better or worse, he stuck around.
He hears and sees what his grandkids are facing when it comes to not being able to live in Manteca when they get jobs. He knows of the struggles of neighbors whose children want to stay here to work and live but they can’t.
That one word sums of the mantra at city hall when it comes to affordable housing – can’t.
But wait, they can – on paper.
Funny how the same people who understand you can’t get employers or major retail here by simply drawing lines on a piece of paper act like that is all you need to do to get more apartments and multi-family homes built in Manteca.
The bottom line: Big homes that have big water guzzling yards the city can do. Affordable housing for Manteca workers, whether it is rentals or smaller homes, the city can’t do.
Cantu got that a long time ago.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.