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Manteca, where the streets are lined with mattresses (& couches)

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POSTED September 12, 2017 1:10 a.m.

uDARTS TO WHOEVER is leaving large pieces of furniture such as couches or mattresses in front of their homes available for others to “take for free” or even behind their business unsecured waiting for proper pick-up.
It is painfully obvious that the number of homeless moving around town with mattresses, couches, living room chairs and even bed frames aren’t stealing them from stores or breaking into homes.
Between comments made by people, letters to the editor, social media, and observations it is clear that vagabond furniture is a big problem.
Outside of the precarious nature of someone bicycling down a busy street with a mattress in tow, the requisition of unwanted furniture is helping spread blight across Manteca. Underscoring that was a seven-foot couch placed on its end for six days at Wilson Park — the city’s de facto homeless park —behind the Post Office in downtown Manteca before city crews removed it.
Nothing says “Manteca is an inviting place to live, play and do business” more than a couch planted for nearly a week in a park or mattresses stashed along the Tidewater, by underpasses, in shrubbery, and elsewhere so they can be retrieved or used when bedtime comes. It also creates a logistical nightmare for Manteca Police since they are required by city law to hold the possessions of homeless individuals for 90 days in order to allow a chance for them to be reclaimed before they can be destroyed. Courts require 30 days but Manteca went for 90 days as part of a settlement to avoid a federal court decision that could have cost taxpayers millions.
Dumping mattresses and furniture, of course, is nothing new. Just ask farmers or Manteca property owners unfortunate enough to be the target of those too cheap to take them to the Lovelace Transfer Station, too lazy to take them to a donation center if they are old but still in good shape, or refuse to pay the city to collect them.
The solution may be having a city law in place to require furniture stores and such to secure furniture being tossed and to prohibit the “take it, the furniture is free” ploy that people use to get rid of unwanted items at their homes.
The city might even employ a twice a year collection at a reduced price for unwanted furniture. They could work with a non-profit and arrange pickups on that day or have a central drop-off point. The furniture and mattresses that still have life left can be recycled back into use while everything else is destroyed or broken down for recycling if that is possible.
That may not be the answer. One thing, however, is growing clearer with each passing day. If the community is serious about dealing with blight and vagrancy there may need to be new rules and innovative solutions pursued that go after the source of problems and not simply react when you see what more than a few people saw last week — two homeless people within a block of each other on East Yosmeite Avenue pedaling along while toting a mattress in a cart attach to their bicycles.

uLAUREL TO THE MANTECA GARDEN CLUB, CITY OF MANTECA, MANTECA ROTARY & MANTECA MORNING ROTARY for a joint effort to clean-up and replant landscape at the plaza in the 100 block of Maple Avenue adjacent to the Rotary mural.
The Manteca Garden Club approached the city first and worked with Manteca Parks and Recreation to come up with a planting plan. Manteca Rotary stepped up to purchase the shrubs and trees while Manteca Morning Rotary committed to fixing a broken bench. City crews and the garden club then planted the trees and spread bark.
It’s little projects one at a time that the Manteca Garden Club is known for that will help “take Manteca back” and make it possible for the downtown — and all of the community — to move close to its potential.
And the best way to do that is for the city and community to keep joining forces.

uLAUREL TO RIPON RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES that did not hesitate to open their wallets to raise $51,560 so the Ripon Police Department could purchase a new patrol unit.
You might ask yourself why the City of Ripon can’t afford to replace police cars but once you hear the explanation it makes sense. Ripon, like every other city, was hit hard by the Great Recession. That made it necessary to delay purchasing equipment and vehicles. But an even bigger issue was a fairly novel and effective approach where Ripon Police officers who live within the city are all issued police cars that they can take home and then use for personal business in Ripon such as driving to the bank and going to their child’s soccer games.
The police cars in neighborhoods and around the community increase the profile of law enforcement helping to keep a lid on crime. At the same time in an emergency — such as the attack at night by a shooting on the Ripon Police Department where police dispatchers were working in a building luckily secured by bullet-proof glass (that’s a hint for Manteca city leaders) — more than a dozen officers responded in marked units within minutes.
At any rate, when you issue 20 or so cars sooner or later the mileage gets way, way up there. Replacing them can be costly especially coming out of tight budget times.
 That’s where Ripon businessman Rick Van Unen comes in. Upon hearing of the department’s dilemma he started a fundraising effort less than two months ago. The Ripon community stepped up.
It seems the department’s motto “Helping Hand, Community Partnership” is indeed a two-way street.

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