Trash talk about Manteca all you want but you should keep a few things in perspective.
This is not the Bay Area.
Believe it or not, that is not a bad thing.
New homes in detached single family housing neighborhoods being built here aren’t so close they could be props for a revival of the Grey Poupon commercials. And you also don’t have to have a household income equivalent to the gross national product of a Third World country to buy one.
And speaking of Third World, if that is your view of Manteca you might want to guess again.
If homeless popping up in a downtown park, walking along commercial districts, panhandling and pitching encampments along freeway right-of-ways makes Manteca a Third World country then what are San Jose and San Francisco — the two urban beacons of the Bay Area?
Say what you want about Manteca allegedly coddling the homeless and allowing them to “take over” public spaces, and such but on the Richter scale of homeless issues we’re more like a 1.8 while much of the Bay Area is a 7.2
That said Manteca has its warts.
But then what city doesn’t in the Greater Bay Area except for perhaps Atherton?
Of course the rejoinder of those convinced Manteca is barely a notch or two above a hell hole will be “what about the dead grass, the weeds in yards, cars parked on lawns”, and other such issues that do exist.
They’re right, of course. But what we have here is blight light compared to more than a few parts of East Palo Alto, South San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, Marin City, Richmond, and San Francisco to drop a few Bay Area names.
There are only a few places in the Bay Area that can claim to be purer than New York snow when it comes to hitting every target from minimal or no homeless, blight that you’d have to spend some time looking for, or people that are in the same social-economic circles so their behavior somehow doesn’t affront those passing judgment on a community. We’re talking places like Woodside, Atherton, Blackhawk, Orinda, and Los Gatos.
This might come as a shock to some, but not everyone can pull down a six figure paycheck. That doesn’t mean what they do for a living isn’t valuable to society or honest labor with meaning.
Such people can’t afford new McMansions even at Manteca’s bargain basement prices of $600,000 compared to the same homes with identical floorplans that are fetching more than twice that in the Silicon Valley.
As for downtown Manteca not living up to counterparts in Pleasanton, Livermore and elsewhere with nice trendy gathering places, try looking at it from the perspective of reality.
There are a lot of successful ethnic businesses downtown that don’t sell trendy food and items but nourishing and tasty food you won’t find at a Cheesecake Factory as well as daily staples that are much more exotic than you’d find at a typical chain retailer.
There also happens to be seven flourishing banks and other financial institutions in downtown Manteca as well as five thriving furniture stores.
You can’t find such offerings in downtowns in Pleasanton and Livermore because they actually had to be brought back to life. You may not like what is offered in downtown or the cancerous blotches that exist but it’s viable and obviously meets the needs of a lot of people or else every square foot would be as bad as its worst critics describe it.
Then there is the obvious difference. If Mantecans relied on food grown in the Bay Area to survive, we’d all be starving.
It might come as a shock, but Manteca is in a farm county that if it stood alone as a separate state would rank 37th in the nation. That involves things getting dirty and sometimes smelly.
And for those that rely on Amazon to keep them in everything from toilet paper and other household products to virtually anything they could desire for day-to-day living, don’t pooh-pooh this area and the people who work here. By this time next year there will be eight major Amazon distribution centers between Patterson, Tracy, Manteca, and Stockton that keeps goods flowing to the Bay Area. That doesn’t include a host of other concerns from Wayfair to World Market.
Not only would the Bay Area be in a world of hurt for food and goods as well as affordable housing if it weren’t for all the people filling jobs that help generate massive high tech wealth that are in the hands of a relatively few but they’d be unable to take a bath, wash clothes or cars, water their lawns, or even flush their toilets if they relied on the resources of their region that some blueberries is picture perfect in absolutely everywhere.
Just like Los Angeles, most of the Bay Area exists because of imports from outside of their water basin. If water stayed in its basin, Manteca would not lack but Pleasanton, Dublin, and other places such as Santa Clara and San Francisco would be drastically different. For starters, they would lack the water to sustain their current populations. And they certainly would not waste what they have own well-maintained ornamental gardens and yards.
Yes, the numerous freight trains that sound whistles and go through Manteca don’t lollygag along as they do on Bay Area lines. That’s because the lines through Manteca do the heavy lifting when it comes to movement of goods and making sure people have what they want when they want it. As for the trucks, if you believe they should be banished from the face of the earth then go “truck free” for a year eschewing anything a truck had to do with delivering including roughly 100 percent of the components of your house.
No one is saying Manteca is perfect and doesn’t need to step up its game. But it is a balancing act. Make Manteca a cookie-cutter rip-off of Pleasanton and easily two thirds of the 63,000 people who moved here from the Bay Area over the last 40 years would have to pack up the truck and move farther down or up the valley if not out of state.
There are reasons Manteca is affordable to live here for people who fled the Bay Area by choice or because they had no other option. One of them is it isn’t Pleasanton and it hasn’t tried to replicate Pleasanton — at least not yet.
The funny thing is those that doing the slamming aren’t really slamming those Mantecans whose families either predate the start of serious commuting in the 1960s or came from places other than the Bay Area. The vast majority of Manteca residents are Bay Area expatriates.
None of this is intended to silence criticism as if that would ever happen in today’s world of belittle first, trash second, and marginalize third.
But it would be nice if you want to change the world to use milk instead on your Wheaties.
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 email@example.com