The City of Manteca as far as Gary Singh is concerned needs to be as nimble and responsive as a business is to an ever changing market while anchored in sound fiscal management.
The need to be tuned into consumers — or residents in the case of the city — is something Singh learned as a youngster working in his father’s store. The 2000 Sierra High graduate fine-tuned those lessons earning a business administration degree in real estate and management at the University of Pacific. And he applies it daily helping run his father’s store, mange property and selling real estate through The Roland Group.
Singh wants to apply business principles to help oversee Manteca’s municipal government as a city council member. The lifelong Manteca resident is one of four declared candidates seeking two council seats in the Nov. 8 election. The others are David Cushman, Jeff Zellner, and incumbent Debby Moorhead.
While candidates often campaign that cities need to be run like a business, they are usually emphasizing sound fiscal practices. Singh takes it a step further in noting the city needs to be as nimble as a business in meeting consumer demands.
“If you have items on a shelf that aren’t moving you discount them or get rid of them to clear up the space for (what the customers want),” Singh said.
Singh sees the more than 10 years the city has spent discussing the use of purple pipe to divert reclaimed wastewater city ratepayers spend $27 a month to treat as an example of the city needing to be more responsive.
“The city is not working fast enough to get purple pipe in place,” Singh said.
Not only is it relatively expensive water the city is dumping back into the San Joaquin River but if the water was harnessed it would substantially cut the use of drinking water to irrigate parks, schools, and common landscaped areas of neighborhoods.
And although the city likes to brag that it is more business friendly with the rollout of their version of one-stop permits, Singh said that isn’t good enough for today’s world.
“There are apps out there that allow people to submit much of the information needed to obtain permits online,” Singh said. “It would greatly increase accountability.”
Singh, who is currently a planning commissioner, has seen first-hand how frustrated citizens and businessmen alike are with the current process. He noted the commission over the years when asked why a project took so long to process have been told by staff that when it got to a certain point in the review process critical documents or information was missing forcing the applicant to submit additional paperwork.
Singh said apps designed to delineate everything needed for a certain permits whether it is to add on a patio cover to a home or apply for a business permit would not only make it clear what is needed but it would provide a digital file that would provide a clear tracking of a project for both the applicant and the city. And by equipping city workers in the field such as building inspectors with tablets to access information online, Singh said it would make Manteca more efficient and responsive.
“People should know upfront everything that is needed for a project,” Singh said.
Wants to look for ways
to avoid taxpayers paying
twice for facilities
Singh wants to bring a different approach to government spending by aggressively looking for partnerships with other agencies such as Manteca Unified that make sense.
He pointed to swimming pools as an example. Singh noted high school swimming pools are used during the school year and the city pool during the summer. That means school pools are idle when the city pool is being used and vice versa.
“The same taxpayers are paying for the pools and their upkeep,” Singh said.
Singh goes a step further noting the city’s Lincoln Pool and Manteca High pool are virtually on top of each and that the municipal pool is much smaller. He said the city needs to look at whether it makes more sense to rent a high school pool and shutter the Lincoln Pool given a larger facility means more youth can be served more efficiently.
As for downtown, Singh believes the council needs to pursue two solutions that will help the area gain new life. First, the city should start working toward eliminating all second floor housing downtown given that many problems plaguing the area can be traced back to some of the undesirables that rent rooms. He added that almost all of the housing that exists downtown wouldn’t meet today’s standards with extremely small rooms and communal bathrooms.
Singh said the city needs to push for offices on the second floors and push for incentives that would encourage property owners to make investments that would help bring about such uses.
Push for housing
on Moffat corridor
He also believes the city should continue to build on improvements they have made on Moffat to encourage the building of more reasonably priced housing that would create potential customers for downtown restaurants and retail stores.
The City of Manteca owns vacant land along Moffat. He also noted one strategy could involve tapping into the economic development fund the city has created with redevelopment agency tax residuals to purchase parcels such as the old bean processing plant location off Grant Street and then work with agencies that build reasonably priced housing to develop the property.
Singh also wants to see the city step up its efforts dealing with the homeless.
He is frustrated when he sees the same homeless people blocking half of the sidewalk on Yosemite Avenue all day while they set up shop and even BBQ food.
Singh noted that other Manteca residents are not allowed to commandeer public sidewalks and BBQ on them.
That said Singh believes the city needs to double down on working with community organizations to advise the homeless that want help to get off the street. But he said part of the solution should not involve a homeless shelter for single adults.
“Build it and they will come,” Singh said of a men’s homeless shelter.
Singh made it clear he is against the Raymus Expressway noting that development patterns that are unfolding due to the 200-year floodplain designation and other issues do not make it an essential need.
He points to the expressway as an example of the city failing to stay atop of changing situations as a business would need to do in order to serve customers and flourish.
Before Singh started his campaign, he made appointments with all of the city department heads to get a feel for their challenges and needs. He has gone a step farther and has observed and talked to front line workers including going through an entire shift with a police officer.
The council hopeful said his priorities include reducing crime and putting more police on the street, increasing vocational training and education opportunities for young people, addressing quality of life issues such as drug use and gang activity in addition to homelessness, increasing government communication and accountability as well as transparency, and creating more reasonably priced housing options.
Singh said he understands what it takes to succeed given how his father has worked seven days a week to support his family after immigrating to America.
“I want to be the voice for the little guy,” Singh said.
More information about Singh can be found at his website SinghforManteca.com.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org