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Typical new home buyer paying $3,880 for open space
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Buy a typical new home in Manteca and you’ll be paying at least  $3,880 for preserving open space.

It doesn’t show up as an itemized cost. Rather it is a fee that developers are required to pay on a per acre basis that is collapsed into the price of homes they sell along with growth fees for roads and parks, school fees, sewer and water connections as well as the price of the land and developing it. That’s all in addition to the cost of building the home.

The fees for conversion of farmland to urbanized uses are part of the mandated San Joaquin County Multi-Species Habitat Conservation and Open Space Plan that’s been in place since 2001. The San Joaquin Council of Governments monitors the program.

It is designed to compensate for open space, farmland, vernal pools, and land in its natural state that is lost to development. The fees go to purchase and manage replacement land for open space, farming, and ecological systems such as vernal pools. The fees were set up to avoid potential litigation regarding the loss of farmland and habitat.

The Manteca City Council will consider adopting updated fees based on current property values when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The loss of farmland to build employment centers, retail and housing will cost developers $19,400 an acre. That comes to $3,880 for a 6,500-square-foot residential lot given the typical yield of five homes per acre once streets are taken into account.

That reflects an 8.9 percent increase over fees currently in place for farmland conversion. Rising land values are the biggest driver in fee increases.

Developers pass the fees on in the cost of homes.

The proposed fee changes are:

u$19,400 per acre of farmland or land in its natural state that is developed.

u$9,701 for each acre of open space lost.

u$72,523 per acre of vernal pool grasslands converted for growth.

u$116,871 per acre of wetted vernal pools that are lost to development.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail