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Manteca needs to snip stupid growth in the bud & move transfer station first
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

Once Manteca’s leadership decides what they want to do as the city heads north — whether it’s a heavy emphasis on housing or a more robust employment center plan — they need to not pat themselves on the back for too long.

Whatever their vision for Manteca as it grows north they need to proactively remove a cancerous sore called the Lovelace Transfer Station.

This is not something that should be left up to chance. A transfer station where garbage and trash is being sorted does not belong next door to an urbanized neighborhood or down the street from a future bistro in a village-style commercial development at the future intersection of Union and Roth roads. 

If you doubt that ask yourself this question — would you buy a new home or open a restaurant within a half mile of what is a cut above a landfill operation or along streets where garbage trucks from the four corners of the South County rumble down and large semi-trucks jammed with separated garbage and trash are constantly passing by?

There is also a fallacy that a buffer or a simple berm would do the trick. Do you think someone would invest $35 million to open a 5.11 Tactical style distribution center next door to the Lovelace Transfer Station let along spend $400,000 for a home?

Lovelace is not on a major arterial which means it will be surrounded by neighborhoods given its location on land use maps assuming KB Homes or someone wants to invest money in “Trashy Estates.”

Let’s say people desperate to buy homes get past the notion of being near a transfer station just as they get over being on top of a railroad or a freeway. In many cases that is a momentary change of heart. More often than not they start railing against train noises, freeway noises, dust and smell issues and demand the city do something which means an expensive half of a horse’s behind fix.

Then there are real safety issues. Take a close look at the land use maps envisioned for future annexations to the north. The transfer station is surrounded by yellow, the color for housing. This means Manteca can accomplish one of the most boneheaded planned development patterns possible that would be bad enough to be featured in an anti-smart growth book. They could name it “Stupid Growth, Manteca-style”.

The poor planning outcomes are endless. There will be dozens upon dozens of garbage trucks rumbling down future collector streets that are the equivalent of today’s Tannehill Drive, Pestana Avenue, Powers Avenue, and Mission Ridge.

People taking precariously covered pickup loads of yard rubbish and debris down neighborhood streets to the transfer station with the occasion tar paper, tree limb, board with bent nails and broken toaster oven bouncing out of trucks and into front yards.

Virtually every elected official does not believe the transfer station should stay there. More than a few seem to think the county on its own will move it.

The 15-acre facility will cost money to replicate elsewhere. Let’s say it is $10 million. Does anyone think the county has $10 million to spare?

Two things are needed — a way to pay for a new structure and a location.

Working with the county a plan needs to be adopted and implemented prior to the annexation of any land to the north. It needs to include a set fee per new developed use. For simplicity if there were only 6,000 new homes created in the area north of the existing city limits, the cost to relocate  — let’s say it is $10 million — would be split among those new homes. That comes to a $2,500 fee collected at the time a permit is issued to build a home.

So where does it go? One possible location is the city’s wastewater treatment plant about midway on the east side of the property south of where the 15-acre solar farm is going to help power the treatment process. It would be at a point to the north of the Big League Dreams sports complex.

What are the pluses of such a move?

The city is relocating its solid waste division fleet to near the entrance on the north side of the property to be by the fueling station for the compressed gas that will power municipal solid waste trucks as part of the city’s food waste to fuel program. The city trucks can reduce their daily mileage somewhat if their last run is just a 1,000 or so yards away from the transfer station to eliminate roughly a 6-mile plus trip per truck each day back from Lovelace location.

The city is already considering developing a composting operation using fiber-based products gleaned from trash and green waste on the northwest portion of the property.

Separated food waste from the Lovelace location ultimately will need to be trucked six miles to the solid waste food waste to fuel facility. A transfer station at the treatment plant would eliminate a 12-mile round trip per pickup.

uThe emerging plan for a truck route using a spine road along the railroad tracks north of Lathrop Road and then crossing over the McKinley Avenue to serve business parks planned along Airport Way would be a quarter of a mile away from the a transfer station at the treatment plant. That way the various garbage trucks from other cities and the county as well as private dumpers that can use McKinley Avenue. The roughly 15 plus daily outgoing semi-trucks carrying separated trash would use the McKinley as well.

There are no homes immediately to the east of the suggested site at the treatment plant nor is any planned. The area is envisioned as a small scale business park area.

The site could be accessed from either McKinley Avenue skirting the southern portion of the developed treatment plant or else from West Yosemite Avenue along the eastern edge of the property.

The treatment plant process has changed significantly over the years requiring less land. Besides it is clear the city is not going to migrate toward land disposal. That means all of the “ugly” needs to serve a city of 140,000 people can be packaged together in one place in an area that isn’t a residential district or candidate for mega-distribution or commercial. And the fact it can be done near existing development with the way the city has astutely planned the adjoining property known as the family entertainment zone that is still part of the treatment plant site is a testimony to that assertion. If it wasn’t, Great Wolf would not be building a 5-story, $180 million resort as close as they are to the treatment plant.

The last consideration is the future sale of the Lovelace site would compensate the city for the land being used at the treatment plant for the new transfer station. 

Of course the city and county could find another location instead of the wastewater treatment plant.

The bottom line is if the city doesn’t have a plan that is ready to implement as to where the transfer station should go and how the replacement site will be funded they are setting the stage to create stupid growth and not smart growth as Manteca heads north.

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 or 209.249.3519.