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Hyper-vigilant effort targeting city weeds

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POSTED April 28, 2014 1:04 a.m.

It might be time to knock those weeds down that are growing up against the fence in the side yard. 

If not, the City of Manteca will gladly send out a crew to do it for you – for a steep fee and a slew of fines. 

Starting Thursday Manteca Fire Department crews will begin a sweep of the city searching for any residential property that isn’t in compliance with the weed abatement standards outlined in Manteca’s municipal code. 

That’s six-inches for most standard single-family homes. Houses sitting on lots larger than a half-acre that reside within the city limits must have their yards completely disced.

With the dry winter and warm spring, the fire season is coming early this year – ratcheting up the stakes. 

“We’re always vigilant, but we’re going to be hyper-vigilant this year,” Manteca Fire Marshal Lantz Rey said. “These dry conditions have already created the perfect conditions for a grass fire.”

The guidelines have absolutely nothing to do with appearance. 

Last year an overgrown property on South Union Road ended up providing enough fuel for a simple grass fire to quickly spread to the abandoned and already burned-out house and outbuildings situated on the 3.5-acre property. More than an acre of dry grass burned – old tires only added to the mess and made the fire difficult to extinguish even with a 100-foot aerial ladder truck – on the property that was already working its way through the weed abatement process when the fire broke out. 

Examples like that, said Rey, should serve as a warning to all Manteca homeowners of just how quickly a grass fire can spread out of control and take down anything that it can reach. 

“If this is something that you’re taking care of – if you’re working to take care of property and protect it from dereliction and your neighbor isn’t doing the same thing, they’re creating a hazard for you,” Rey said. “That’s what we want people to realize. And there have been several recent examples of what can happen if these things aren’t taken care of.”

According to Rey, Manteca Fire Department crews will begin hitting their assigned grid patterns on May 1. Each individual station, when they aren’t responding to calls or taking care of other day-to-day business, will go through a given area, street-by-street searching for houses that aren’t in compliance. 

The entire process takes 12 days. 

All violations are tallied and delivered to Rey who will, around May 17, start sending out letters to homeowners letting them know that they’ll have 30 days before crews will come back out for a resinspection. If they’re still found to be in violation, a second letter will go out telling the property owner that they have 14 days before action will be taken – sending a work crew out to knock the weeds down. 

That costly tab will then be passed back on to the violator. Those who don’t pay can face liens or even direct deductions from their income tax refunds.

Anybody with any questions about the city’s weed abatement program can contact the Manteca Fire Department at 209.456.8300. 

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