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Manteca suspends code enforcement for aesthetics only

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POSTED September 24, 2012 12:15 a.m.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin has suspended code enforcement of Manteca’s property rules when it comes to aesthetic issues until at least mid-January of 2013.

The city is in the process of contacting various property owners such as Hyde Park Lane resident John Griffin. He was directed to take down a 6-foot side yard fence within the four-foot setback from the sidewalk because it violates city rules put in place for aesthetics and not safety.

“We will still be enforcing any code issues that are safety and health related,” McLaughlin said.

The city manager’s decision follows 18 months of study and debate over proposed changes in the city’s sign ordinance that would make A-frames and banner flags on city sidewalks legal under certain conditions as well as making human signs legal. Currently, all such signs are illegal.

All of the aesthetic related code enforcement complaints now in various degrees of being processed by the city are not related to signs but neighborhood issues such as fences.

McLaughlin said after conferring with Mayor Willie Weatherford she deiced to suspend the aesthetic code enforcement effort until early next year.

Due to non-paid city staff furloughs and the holidays there is only one meeting in November. In December, the city could have two new council members. The consensus was that it wouldn’t be a good idea to hit them out of the gate with philosophical concerns about where code enforcement should go in Manteca without giving them some time to get up to speed.

That would mean the next scheduled council meting wouldn’t be until Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.

There are three schools of emerging public sentiment over the code enforcement effort as reflected by the sign debate. One wants all signs allowed as long as they do not pose a safety issue. Another wants some regulations and control over locations and number while a third favors addressing aesthetic issues regarding signs and/or banning A-frames and such as the current code wording requires.

The council last Tuesday voted 4-0 to allow A-frame, banner flags, and human signs under specific conditions. That, however won’t become law until after a second reading and a subsequent follow-up affirmative vote by the majority of the council. Due to personal reasons, Weatherford will not be able to attend a council meeting until December. That is when the council originally opted to have the second reading of the proposed changes to the sign ordinance.

The council has received flack about the hybrid approach the city takes on code enforcement issues. Under the current policy the city initiates a code enforcement investigation upon a complaint being received instead of wholesale citywide enforcement. And when they do inspect the property that is the subject of the complaint they check surrounding properties to see if they have code enforcement issues as well.

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