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One man beautification effort

Takes it upon himself to clean up Spreckels Avenue

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One man beautification effort

Luis Martinez-Perez pulls garbage from a bush along Spreckels Avenue. A resident of the area, Martinez-Perez took it upon himself Monday afternoon to clean up some of the sections of the busy comme...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED February 19, 2013 1:41 a.m.

Luis Martinez-Perez looks at his neighborhood through the eyes of a runner.

Is he going to be able to cross the street ahead of him without stopping? Is that car going to stop? Is anybody ever going to clean up the garbage that keeps pooling up in the bushes?

While he might not be able to control the traffic, Martinez-Perez felt he could do something about the escalating deterioration of what is supposed to be aesthetically pleasing landscaping along one of his neighborhood’s main routes.

On Monday Martinez-Perez sacrificed a good portion of his Presidents Day by digging deep into the bushes that adjoin the Target parking lot with a stick to pull out paper cups, plastic bags and anything else that he could reach and stuff into a waiting shopping cart.

Some might use anger and frustration at the system to motivate them to finally do something. Martinez-Perez – a native of Mexico City that has spent the last 14-years living in Manteca – just did it.

“It’s not good for Target or the customers or anybody walking by to see this,” he said. “I live over on the other side of Food-4-Less and I have to see this so I wanted to do something to clean it up.”

And clean it up he did.

With a pair of work gloves covering his hands and a sweatband on his forehead catching the perspiration that came from being hunched over, Martinez-Perez dug deep into the bushes to pull out trash that the average person wouldn’t see.

He got no compensation. Most people didn’t even know he was there.

A target security guard actually approached him and asked him to throw it all away in the back of the store, he said, so it didn’t fill up any of the garbage cans out front.

Maintenance for the section of real estate that Martinez-Perez took an interest in is paid for by the Spreckels Park Landscape Maintenance District – funded by the property owners within the boundaries of the commercial sector.

As an out-of-work auto body worker that is resigned to searching for jobs on his bicycle, Martinez-Perez says that it can be a little bit frustrating having to figure out ways to get to Modesto and Stockton to find body shops searching for help.

But that didn’t stop him from doing what he could to clean up his neighborhood.

“It makes things look better,” he said. “I’ve got the time so why not do it?”

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