Deception is deception.
There is no middle ground.
As such when one starts dealing from the bottom of the barrel — just like with wine dregs — care must be taken to avoid a bitter aftertaste.
The Delicato versus City of Manteca battle has barely just started.
Yet it is clear the aftertaste will not only be extremely bitter but divisive with the potential to linger for years, if not decades.
It is because to get what they want, Delicato has looked the other way.
It might be unwittingly such as a grape broker pulling a fast one by delivering the wrong grapes — or inferior grapes — for a crush and then you proceeding to bottle and sell it.
Unwitting or deliberate, it is still the proverbial bill of goods.
As signs at several tables set out by signature gatherers in front of Manteca stores indicated, the message being delivered was “Delicato approved.”
You should expect the same quality from people hired by a third party fronting for Delicato as you do when you buy a bottle of Gnarly Head wine as a gift.
But a sense of honor and lessons learned about the clarity that comes with striving every day to try and adhere to the straight and narrow path may have become a fad that was stronger in generations that are behind us.
Enough of sentimentality and sins of days gone by.
At this point, it appears a family that professes a great love for Manteca has no qualms about using a scorched earth approach on their hometown as they prepare for an all-out assault.
The odds are Delicato’s paid minions have likely already collected the number of needed signatures to force an election aimed at tossing out the city’s just adopted general plan.
And unless they managed to collect the signatures of too few people that are actually valid registered voters that reside in Manteca’s city limits per se, the Manteca version of “Apocalypses Now” will peak on Election Day, March 5, 2024.
And just like the Vietnam War cinematic analogy, the bloodshed will continue for years with the end result being abject failure when it comes to the main objective of the war to begin with.
That is all fine and good but there’s a little problem.
No one that understands the law believes that what Delicato wants will be delivered at the ballot box even if voters reject the general plan update.
The best result for Delicato is to carpet-bomb city leadership so hard that they’ll be afraid of their own shadow for years to come. Chaos coupled with indecisiveness, as we learned in Vietnam, paralyzes progress.
Do not misunderstand.
Delicato is not the bogeyman.
That said, neither is the City of Manteca, developers or whoever choses to move here and buy a home that was built on land that was once farmed.
It is also imperative that Manteca set itself apart and do what it can so that agriculture can co-exist with growth in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
The South County doesn’t have to be San Jose 2.0.
Manteca could take its right to farm ordinance to the next level like Davis did with the farmland preservation component they added. In its most basic form, it preserves an acre of agriculture for every acre developed.
Manteca could establish urban limits— lines where the city will not expand beyond — codified in the municipal code.
Manteca could robustly partner with agriculture in strategies such as developing a Stanislaus River appellation as outlined in the general plan update Delicato wants to block. The goal would be job generation, economic development, and education of residents and visitors alike.
None of this, though, would help Delicato.
The reason is simple. Some of the homes that want to stop — 1,475 to be exact — they can’t.
It’s because the process of converting land to homes along North Union Road that will come within half a mile of the winery started long before Delicato came up with the referendum.
The annexation and tentative maps started under the old general plan that was designed to go through 2025.
If there are valid signatures for an election the city will hold the implementation of the new general plan in abeyance until voters weigh-in in March.
Meanwhile, the 1,475 homes in question can proceed under the previous general plan.
Court cases and the law are on the side of housing projects in such situations.
It is the ultimate quagmire, right? Wrong.
There is a potential solution. It may not make everyone 100 percent happy, but it does the trick of allowing Manteca growth, not inviting a State of California lawsuit over blocking housing development, and giving Delicato a better sense of security after spending close to $120 million to expand their winery just a few years ago.
And it is the individuals that occupied the same five seats once used by predecessors that brought Manteca the valley’s first growth cap in 1985, landed Big League Dreams, avoided a shuttered sugar beet processing plant from becoming a cancerous blight on the city’s front doorstep by turning it into an economic juggernaut, and secured the Great Wolf indoor waterpark resort.
Remove the Delicato winery per se and 300 acres or so to the west and south from Manteca’s sphere of influence and add it to Stockton’s.
Right now, French Camp Road — for the most part — divides the envisioned future limits of the two cities.
An exception includes west of Airport Way to Roth Road that abuts up against Manteca’s present city limits just across the street from Penske Logistics that serves as a Lowe’s Home Improvement distribution center.
The winery’s smells and impacts on the shallow water table plus the distance from infrastructure pretty much precludes anything north of the French Camp/Highway 99 interchange being residential.
The carveout would the area east of Union Road and west of Highway 99 that would be added to Stockton’s sphere of influence.
The southern boundary of the carveout would be created by shifting the proposed alignment of the extension of Roth Road a bit more to the north after it crosses Union Road so it doesn’t put a major street through parcels that basically dilutes their value significantly.
The city would still proceed with requiring a 110-foot wide roadway for Roth with a supersized 30-foot deep landscape strip heavily planted with trees on the south side.
The switch between the cities would avoid the creation of a future island surrounded by urbanization that is a no-no under policies of the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission.
Is it a perfect solution? No.
Is it much better than where things are headed? Yes.
Does it address the expectations Delicato created for voters that somehow rejecting the general plan at the ballot will stop growth, reduce crime, and cure cancer? No.
But it could set the stage for an organized effort going forward that gets agriculture and the city working together on the dual goals of sustainable agriculture and sustainable growth in the Manteca area.
If a valley city has the moxie to outmaneuver Bay Area suitors and avoid giving away the farm to the likes of Kalahari indoor water park to secure the Great Wolf deal, it can happen.
And if a 99 year-old winery started in a barn by a Sicilian immigrant in the depths of the Great Depression has the savvy to become the world’s fifth largest winery, it can happen.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org