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Keeping homeless out of library courtyard to prevent damage

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POSTED June 13, 2017 1:37 a.m.

LAURELS TO THE CITY OF MANTECA for installing a wrought iron fence to secure the Manteca Library courtyard from homeless vandals.
Crews were putting the fence in place Monday along the Center Street entrance.
The City Council authorized spending $6,191 to put the fence in place on the advice of Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly – the city’s frontline officer dealing with Manteca’s homeless issues. Kelly day-in and day-out has not been only rousting the homeless out of the courtyard every day but has seen firsthand the damage they do.
That damage includes ripping out wiring from security lighting so they could have darkness when they sleep, disconnecting wires to charge cell phones, and leaving garbage on a daily basis. The damage to the lighting is no small cost item. The last fix — that was destroyed in less than a week — cost taxpayers $3,000.
The courtyard has a recessed area that allows the homeless to stay out of sight of passing traffic on Center Street allowing some of them to do drugs without worries of being caught. The enclave also was the hopping spot to bed down for the night due to it providing protection from the elements as well as privacy.
Manteca has slowly been stepping up its game dealing with homeless who do illegal acts and property damage while playing within the rules as dictated by court decisions. The landscaping around the building has been replaced to eliminate cover for the homeless to bed down for the night.
There has been security on site as well.
Some might argue the city has allowed things to get out of control. The real culprit — if you can call it that — is a piece of paper call the Constitution that the courts make sure applies to everyone whether they have a place to call home or not.
That said, Manteca is playing by the rules of engagement dictated by court decisions and a desire to avoid the city from being sued.
Manteca is not alone when it comes to homeless issues. The city has, however, taken more aggressive and proactive steps that many other cities of similar size that apparently are convinced the best policy is to ignore it and keep moving the homeless around.
By using community resource officers to connect the homeless that want help with resources, apply the law equally to everyone, have rules that don’t make being homeless a crime per se, and to hold those who break the law accountable is making some headway.
No city will ever be able to solve the homeless problem but they can improve the situation.
DART TO THE ZOMBIES, better known as pedestrians with their noses stuck in cellphones, who step onto busy streets without looking.
Two such incidents happened Monday on Yosemite Avenue near Spreckels Avenue. One was in a crosswalk and one wasn’t.
The one who wasn’t in the crosswalk looked both ways before stepping off the curb in front of IHOP but then buried her face in her phone without looking up until she reached the far side. Lucky for her, motorists were paying attention.
The other was a guy in the crosswalk going from the car wash to Del Taco. There were cars in the turn lane as well as the two thru eastbound lanes. As the pedestrian neared the two thirds mark a car pulled alongside the curb and turned right. There was perhaps three feet to spare.  If he had been hit it would likely have been the driver’s fault but that said it is irresponsible and dangerous not to pay attention while walking even in a crosswalk just as it is for a driver to be distracted.
Hopefully everyone can take being on the streets a little more seriously instead of being self-centered zombies whether they are on foot, behind the wheel, pedaling, or on some other form of transportation self-propelled or not.

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