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Growth brought more than just 17,838 additional Manteca residents
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So what has 17,838 more Manteca residents brought us?

Some would argue that the 34 percent jump in population between 2000 and 2010 based on Census figures has simply brought more traffic, more crime, and more problems.

You can’t argue about the traffic but as far as crime, the number of incidents per 1,000 residents in most categories through 2010 has either remained about the same or has dropped with the glaring exception of gang violence.

So what good has growth done?

Do you shop at Target, Staples, Costco, Kohl’s, or Best Buy? None of those would have located in Manteca with less than 50,000 residents given our proximity to Modesto and Stockton nor would they have come here if the growth had been stagnant.

What about the small stores? Good question. They’re still around. Some are gone but new ones have taken their place. But let’s be honest. Just because some of the big guys weren’t here 10 to 15 years ago didn’t mean people shopped elsewhere in town. They’d head for Stockton, Modesto, and Tracy. There is less of a need now for most people when they shop to go out of Manteca. That keeps consumer dollars local, creates local jobs, helps pay for government services via sales taxes, and reduces gas consumption.

Do you use Woodward Park, walk down bike paths such as on Wellington Avenue or Spreckels Avenue, use the interactive water feature at Library Park, make use of the BMX park, or play indoor soccer or softball at Big League Dreams?

All of them were made possible and – for the most part – paid for by growth fees or developers. The only exception is BLD but even so it is the growing strength of the Manteca Redevelopment Agency fueled by growth that made the financing for the project possible.

Do you worship at a house of faith in Manteca?

You have lots of options as the more people has not only increased the vibrancy of existing churches but added a host of smaller ones. By the way, the growth of the faith-based community has helped strengthen the non-profits that reach out to the less fortunate and needy. Manteca had a pretty good base to begin with. It has just gotten better over the past 10 years. The tough economic times have hurt a bit but non-profits will tell you while the big business donations are down for obvious reasons, the number of smaller donations from individuals and households are up.

Growth is often maligned.

That is easy to understand why. Growth does bring new issues and problems but not growing creates even more. The key is to make sure Manteca grows in the best way possible.

Of course, what is “best” is open to wide interpretation. It is impossible to simply cherry pick all of the good things growth brings and nix the others. Just like life it doesn’t work that way. Manteca as a community can, though, do a lot to reap significantly more benefits from growth than it does drawbacks.

The first step was the decision in 1988 to impose the Central Valley’s first growth cap. The 3.9 percent cap based on sewer allocation helped Manteca manage and absorb growth better. It also gave parameters in planning for the future.

The odds are Manteca will add 20,000 people – if not more – by 2010. Manteca needs to take full advantage of that extra 20,000 people to grow to the next level whether it is transforming downtown from a retail center to a community destination, adding additional recreation, education and cultural amenities, to securing more employment centers and retail.

At the same time Manteca needs to keep creating a community that doesn’t grow in the same sprawl-style patterns you see in Modesto, Stockton, and Tracy.

It means finding a way to keep agriculture intact and to develop smarter growth patterns instead of simply using the same-old textbook planning of plotting an expressway route so that more spread out neighborhoods can grow to it and beyond.

Manteca led the way in 1988 with a growth cap.

Now it is time to lead the way with planning aimed at not just accommodating more people, but doing so in a manner that creates development patterns that don’t stress services, spread out distances between homes and amenities, and doesn’t desecrate farming and rural lifestyles.