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Time to tame what is arguably wild Manteca growth into delivering thoroughbred results
sj house
This is what $949,000 buys you in San Jose: A two-bedroom, two-bathroom home built in 1905 with 1,068 square feet on a 5,858-square-foot-lot on a corner lot.

Anyone harboring any thoughts of corralling growth in Manteca needs a reality check.

The cow isn’t just out of the barn. It’s a full-blown stampede.

There of course will be economic corrections. But if you’ve been paying attention since the 1970s Manteca bounces back and keeps growing. It has everything to do with the city’s location. And yes, it was sharpened by the success of dull government that may have let a lot of the flash and even reasonable upgrades and expansions go to the wayside while focusing on long-range water and wastewater solutions.

Neither the market nor law is on the side of those believing that somehow a change in city leadership by electing council members that are hardcore anti-growth while take the foot off the accelerator.

Manteca along with Lathrop, Tracy, Mountain House as well as points north and south in the valley is the affordable housing market solution for the Bay Area.

The Silicon Valley and the high tech multimedia gulch in San Francisco may be losing some to out-of-stare hubs trying to emulate their success stories but the Bay Area is still in full growth mode. Underscoring that are major expansions of physical operations by Apple, Alphabet aka Google, and Yahoo to name a few even as they embrace allowing a chunk of work continue on a remote or semi-remote basis.

The lure of the San Francisco-San Jose fosters a bohemian lifestyle and unparalleled collaboration opportunities appealing to young turk techies. Yes the Bay Area is rife with warts but they are overshadowed by its beauty and lifestyle that isn’t harsh on the pocketbooks of those drawing salaries well into the six figures along with stock options.

Those fleeing east over the Altamont for housing tend to be older and plugged into key “lieutenant” roles in various companies. That gives them good but not top tier paychecks by Bay Area standards. And if they have or want families the Bay Area is not necessarily an ideal or affordable place for them.

The several prior paragraphs are a set up to a point that many seem not to get.

Facebook comments regarding the fact a developer was starting tract homes at $849,500 at River Islands triggered postings stating if people are being forced to pay those kind of prices in Lathrop and Manteca there is no reason for them to leave the Bay Area for housing.

This might come as a shock to those posting such statements but $1 million homes with yards are affordable compared to the Bay Area.

In mid-2021 a home near downtown San Jose sold for $949,000. For a few dollars shy of $1 million the buyer got a home built in 1905 on a 5,855-square-foot corner lot, less than 1,068 square feet of living space including a second floor attic conversion into a “dorm” room and no garage.

The home is within a quarter of a mile of a concentration of homeless encampments.

Spending $849,500 for a new 2,800-square-foot home at River Islands at Lathrop complete with a 7,000 square-foot lot without a homeless person in sight looks like a steal compared paying $100,000 more for a 122-year-old home about a third the size.

Talk to real estate agents and new home sales staff. Those buying homes in the $800,000 to $1.1 million range in the South County are putting 20 to 50 percent down. Most are using the proceeds from selling their Bay Area homes while some cash out stock options form their jobs to do so.

Then there is the law.

Once a person has secured entitlements to develop and pay appropriate fees they have a legal right to do so. Manteca with 10,550 housing units in various stages of approval as of Jan. 3 is not in a position to say “no more” to those 10,550 housing units as well as others coming down the line.

Perhaps a revolt could put in place restrictions and such on the number of future housing units beyond that but don’t count on it.

New state laws designed to stop NIMBYism from further squeezing the supply of housing make it virtually illegal to block land from being converted to housing if a basic list of requirements are met.

You can huff and puff all you want but the factors driving the Manteca area housing market are not made of straw. They are solid as a brick.

It also might be worth pointing out that the past 10 years saw roughly 6,000 housing units built in Manteca that increased the city’s population by 20,000 plus residents.

Not bad for a city some describe as a hell hole.

It is those that hold such derogatory views of Manteca that are misreading the room. It is clear Manteca is in the right place and positioned in such a manner to keep growing. And given there hasn’t been a serious effort since 1985 to slow it down we are reaping the seeds that have been sown whether you like the results that are now being harvested.

That said there is still a chance to make Manteca “grow right”, whatever that may mean to you.

To do so calls for elected leadership that doesn’t play second fiddle to textbook trained professionals that tend to use a peer crowd mentally among their respective vocations whether it is planning or managing a city when it comes to plotting Manteca’s future and putting in place mechanisms to fund it.

We don’t need leadership that says addressing affordable housing ideally through development incentives is a top priority and then essentially shrugs their collective shoulders when staff says they’ll get around to conducting a study and outlining recommends in a couple of years.

The last 10 years has been borderline whiplash with Manteca growing almost by a third.

We have fallen farther behind in a lot of areas but not the two things that fuel growth — water and wastewater systems.

It is honestly debatable who needs to step up their game the most —elected officials, senior city management or both.

The odds of things changing aren’t nearly as high as Manteca being within a few thousand of having 110,000 residents 10 years from now.

The task now is to at least make sure what Manteca has doesn’t get trampled in the growth stampede and to make growth pay off like a thoroughbred race horse instead of just running wild.


 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