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Downtown under siege? Vandals ply trade on daily basis

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Downtown under siege? Vandals ply trade on daily basis

Owners of an empty store front in the 100 block of West Yosemite Avenue clean up debris after having their front window pushed out over the weekend leaving broken glass covering the sidewalk.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin/


POSTED March 6, 2017 12:23 a.m.

Vandals and vagrants are continuing their attack on the 100 and 200 blocks of West Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca

The rear access door of the former billiard parlor and nightclub in the 200 block of West Yosemite was again broken open in the predawn hours Saturday and boarded back up later the same day. It was bashed in again in predawn hours Sunday and boarded back up later that day by the owners. It is the fifth day in a row the building has been broken into by the homeless that even the arrest of five individuals by Manteca Police hasn’t abated the breaking and entering.

Also over the weekend a store front window on the north side of the street was broken out. Witnesses called Manteca Police when they say two men breaking the window at night.

It has become pretty much of a daily chore for the owner of the 12,500 square foot building that housed a billiard parlor and a nightclub in past years to secure his building from previous nights’ break-ins.  They have used chains and locks for security and 4- by 8-foot plywood over the glass doors. They return the next day to find the chains cut and the plywood covering pulled away.

The rear door of the former nightclub is hidden amidst the parking area behind the building and difficult for the traveling public and police patrols on Yosemite Avenue to see illicit activity.  The homeless individuals in the downtown have recently been cooking their dinners on an open fire behind the store.

Businesses in the two blocks that confront the homeless doing things such as defecating overnight in the front of doorways or exposing themselves during daylight hours report suffering retaliation in the form of broken windows.

On Sunday at 4 p.m. about a dozen homeless were gathered under the Library Park gazebo, two others were rummaging through trash cans, one was sleeping on the sidewalk in the 100 block of West Yosemite, and two others were sitting in a doorway with their gear in the 200 block of West Yosemite Avenue.

There is nothing illegal about the homeless or anyone else gathering at the gazebo during the hours parks are legally open.

However, it is illegal for anyone — including the homeless — to sit or lay on public sidewalks between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. The city ordinance was passed last year to deal with illegal camping. It allows sitting and lying on sidewalks as long as it doesn’t block public movement — presumably enough room for someone in a  wheelchair to get by — between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. That language allows the city to comply with court decisions that essentially ruled the homeless have a right to sleep.

Frustrated merchants have argued burned out buildings such as the Sycamore Arms boarding house in the 200 block of West Yosemite attract the homeless while businesses such as the night club that was blocked from r opening in the former billiards storefront create crime that defeats any efforts to breathe new life into the two blocks of downtown. The City council has changed zoning rules to block nightclubs in the two blocks but has yet to take any legal steps to force the repair off — or to abate — the burned out boarding house 

 

To contact Glenn Kahl, email gkahl@mantecabulletin.com. 

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