Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Our view, based on our longstanding commitment to and understanding of our community and the issues that confront us, is that the City needs to adopt a policy to protect residents from undue harm from greenhouse emissions, diesel pollution, and other toxic air contaminants that elevate our health risks, excessive noise, vibrations and safety issues.
I would like to start with the past history practices for the City related to road widening, truck routes and STAA designation.
During the 1980s when the City designated the road abutting our homes as a truck route, we were not notified of the change prior to their decision. We were not allowed to voice our concerns related to diesel pollutants and other toxic air contaminants, noise, vibrations and safety issues. Years later, the City’s decided to widen our road to be a 4-lane Arterial street truck route with the intent to designate the road as a STAA Truck Route at a later date. Again we were not notified prior to the decisions.
The City of Lathrop has widened Lathrop Road to 4 lanes with their right of way less than 15 feet from one of the residents; the average distance is 30 feet.
The residents voiced their opposition to the widening at City Hall and Council Meetings in 2016 for over a year prior to the project being set for bid. No mitigation measures or reasonable conditions were adopted to protect the residents from the significant health risks, including air pollution, excessive noise and vibration, and significant safety issues. Examples of commonplace and reasonable measures that were ignored include a separate access road and sound walls. The area impacted is in a Disadvantaged Community in relationship to air pollution per CARB. Minorities and some Spanish-speaking only, lower income, elderly and disabled persons make up the population of this section of Lathrop Road. Many of the residents have lived in their homes for 40+ years.
The City of Manteca is currently conducting a City Wide Truck Study for their General Update Plan with input from the City Of Lathrop and San Joaquin County officials. The proposed map includes a STAA spine road through CenterPoint Property, connecting to Lathrop Road to the south, then west over the overgrade to McKinley Avenue and south to the approved interchange on the 120 Bypass. Dozens of homes and their residents abut the proposed STAA Route as planned and will be directly and significantly affected by the adverse impacts. To my knowledge, as of this date, the residents have not been advised nor notified from the City of Lathrop of their intended plans.
I believe the City needs to adopt a strong policy which guarantees the residents be notified by mail. Said notice will also advise the residents to attend a community town hall meeting prior to the approval of a changed designation and widening project. This policy would give the residents ample time to ask questions of impacts and find solutions with appropriate conditions and mitigation measures and be included in future Development Agreements for funding. The policy must mandate that if impacts cannot be mitigated by the developer to protect these homes and residents, then the City must acquire the homes at fair market value or abort the project.
The City needs to have approved infrastructure planned and funded prior to approval of Industrial and Light Industrial uses to accommodate both Trucks and STAA Routes. The current policy, the cart before the horse, forces the City to impact residents and other sensitive areas unnecessarily. Industrial and Light Industrial land uses should not be approved in close vicinity to sensitive areas including residential, hospital zones, parks, churches, schools and children pedestrian sidewalks and bike lanes.
With sound policies and planning a Light Industrial Land Use should be approved to connect the truck traffic with an approved STAA Route, not through established neighborhoods or where the prevailing winds blow the pollution to surrounding sensitive areas.