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Will yet another lawsuit make for good neighbors?
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Lathrop is suing Manteca. Again.

This time they are serving Manteca legal papers contending Center Point – a 4-million-square-foot distribution center proposed in northwest Manteca – will bring traffic Armageddon to the Interstate 5 and Roth Road interchange.

Some Manteca leaders are grumbling that Lathrop is trying to kill jobs. Au contraire. Lathrop’s target is something entirely different.

Remember the lawsuit that Lathrop filed against Manteca over the Big League Dreams sports complex and adjoining Stadium Retail Center as they contended it would significantly increase traffic on Louise Avenue through Lathrop and significantly impact the Louise Avenue and Interstate 5 interchange?

Lathrop’s public argument was that all of the folks going to BLD instead of taking the freeways all the way to the nearby 120 Bypass and Airport Way exit would instead get off in Lathrop at Louise Avenue and drive on more than four miles of surface streets, contend with eight traffic signals, and hassle with two railroad crossings.

Meanwhile Lathrop was having sewer capacity problems. A now long-departed Lathrop council member acting on their own approached Manteca leaders and implied the lawsuit could go away if Manteca gave Lathrop more than its 14.7 percent share of the wastewater treatment plant capacity.

The end result was delaying both projects for a year, Manteca losing out on Kohl’s sales tax receipts for 16 months, and the cost of BLD skyrocketing by more than $4 million due to a worldwide shortage of cement and steel that developed while the two cities were duking it out. Manteca did capitulate out of court to a deal to pay toward some of Louise Avenue road improvements in Lathrop just to get things moving forward.

In irony of ironies BLD tournaments have helped fill a number of hotel rooms in Lathrop where they are right on top of Interstate 5. That means players just jump on the freeway and they are at the BLD complex in minutes while dropping room rent and dining dollars in Lathrop.

Last year a Lathrop hotel owner got a bit irked when Manteca officials pressed BLD not to have Lathrop hotels on their preferred list of where teams should book for tournaments. Bite the hand that feeds you and it might just stop feeding you.

This time around Manteca leaders aren’t sounding as if they are willing to strike a deal to avoid a court battle.

It may have something to do with the fact Union Pacific is the real 900-pound gorilla when it comes to future truck traffic. The odds are great Lathrop won’t be able to get anything out of them to help defray the costs of Interstate 5/Roth Road improvements that 80 percent of their future 2,186 truck trips a day are expected to end up using.

UP contends it is exempt from California Environmental Quality Act laws that could force such payments for road improvements. And they might just be right given railroads have always received preferred treatment from the federal government that includes exemptions from being controlled by local jurisdictions.

In a sense, you can’t fault Lathrop. The pending UP intermodal expansion while good for the economy is like a speeding locomotive barreling down on Lathrop while they are tied helplessly to the tracks. They may get tons of truck traffic and nothing to help mitigate the impacts.

Meanwhile, Manteca taxpayers continue to subsidize Lathrop taxpayers with animal control services at the expense of the lives of Manteca stray dogs.

Manteca municipal leaders have known for years that Lathrop is exceeding its 17.5 percent contracted share of animal shelter space and services. The last analysis showed Lathrop is actually using 25 percent of the shelter and is getting a free ride of $15,000-plus a year.

If Manteca is such a willing patsy, why not sue them for more money to take care of Lathrop streets since they are willing to take care of Lathrop animals at no cost?