The 3.9 percent growth cap doesn’t matter any longer. With its rollover feature of unused sewer allocations builders — if they so desired and assuming the city could process the requests fast enough — could legally build almost 4,000 homes this year.
In reality the tourniquet at city hall when it comes to processing projects and even permits is what keeps Manteca from mushrooming. Blame it on the process. Blame it on funding. Blame it on staffing. But at the end of the day the potential for runaway growth isn’t the problem — non-fulfilling growth is.
Marcus Davenport — a Manteca resident since 2009 and one of eight people who have taken out nomination papers for two open seats in the Nov. 8 council election — gets it. On his davenport4manteca.com page he notes “our community is growing without any clear direction.”
Manteca has clearly laid the foundation for the basics although the jury is still out whether Manteca Unified and the City Council can get Mello Roos school construction funding back on track. Manteca has covered the bases for sewer, water, and garbage. They have set the stage to continue to address police and fire services. Using out-of-the-box thinking such as converting food waste to gas to power municipal garbage trucks and initiatives to keep costs down for basic services in the long run by making wise and significant investments up front are being made.
The city is addressing the “plug-in-the-numbers” and adopted the PC-PC (planning correct/politically correct) growth policies laden with the right jargon and boilerplate implementation wording as mandated by Sacramento without putting any “on the ground” plan in place and pursing it.
Much of what has happened that’s right in Manteca in terms of growth since the 1990s has been the result of the Raymus family and the foresight of Bill Filios and Mike Atherton along with their partners. For almost 25 years the desire of a handful of developers with extremely strong local ties who have opened up their pocketbooks to make it possible to build an even better community such as pushing — and enthusiastic embracing — of bonus bucks concept that gave the city $41 million that was used to save the community’s collective bacon during the Great Recession as well as build a long list of amenities that wouldn’t otherwise exist. They also have been the source of non-development investments in the community that have significantly improved the quality of life. The Raymus family for example, conceived and bankrolled Give Every Child a Chance, made expansion of HOPE Family Shelters possible, was part of the community groundswell that established and continues to support the Boys & Girls Club and has given quietly and generously over the past 40 years to help churches secure homes, help the needy, and support community endeavors benefiting the youth and the elder.
That said we are on the verge of non-fulfilling — or directionless growth.
On the horizon there are more than a dozen subdivisions moving forward. And for the first time ever the majority won’t be built by Raymus, Atherton, or a handful of 209 regional firms such as Florsheim Homes that have been willing to embrace the Manteca development model. Instead they are builders beholden to either investors or are traded on the stock exchange.
Nothing immoral about that. But Manteca got a glimpse of the new playing field four years ago in the dust up over developing the Union Ranch Park. Atherton Homes sold an entitled subdivision map to Woodside Homes who read wording in a development agreement with the city somewhat differently than Raymus and Atherton who both have been a party to such arrangements for decades. In fairness to Woodside, they did nothing legally wrong. But the major controversy involving Union Ranch homeowners and the city provided an inkling of the perils that lay ahead when it comes to growth.
The Raymus siblings as well as the Filios-Atherton partnerships are in Manteca for the long haul. They take pride in their community and they have a vision for the future. They are not just here to build homes, sell them and move on to the next profit making opportunity.
This is where non-fulfilling growth or — as Davenport puts it — “growth with no clear direction” comes into play.
City hall in the past has been able to drag its feet on putting fees in place and adopting plans for amenities because Raymus as well as Atherton-Filios would work with them to make up for lost opportunities. The development community is now much larger and the potential for amenities deficit and hodge podge growth much greater.
Manteca has almost 75,000 residents. In 10 years there will probrably be 90,000 residents and by 2036 more than 120,000 people.
The foundation for what Manteca with 120,000 people will offer in terms of quality of life has to be laid now and not later. The basics to support 120,000 to 150,000 residents was put in place by city leaders in the waning days of the 20th century.
The issue of concern is no longer what some might call the “non-sexy stuff” such as sewer, water, garbage collection and even streets although some slam Manteca over road maintenance even though Manteca is positioned no worse than most of the rest of California.
Man doesn’t thrive by efficient garbage collection alone. What is needed is a vision for Manteca to grow into as more and more homes go up.
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.