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What rules? City of Manteca has no need to enforce no stinking rules

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POSTED October 8, 2013 1:43 a.m.

There is a private firm recycling e-waste Oct. 18-19 in the parking lot near Kohl’s.

I know this because the firm’s representatives very nicely have placed signs in both the city and state public right-of-ways.

One is in the municipally owned and maintained landscaping at Powers and Yosemite Avenue where the sign covers about a third of the area. The other is on Caltrans territory as you access Highway 99 from Yosemite Avenue.

It is an obvious flagrant violation of the city’s sign ordinance that close to a year’s time was devoted to updating. More importantly, it shows just how serious the city isn’t about sign rules unless, of course, you snitch.

Aesthetics aside, there is nothing overtly unusual about the signs as they employ the latest trend of tying banners to PVC pipe frames. They are just another example of the city’s discriminatory sign enforcement policy.

The city doesn’t enforce sign rules unless they either receive a complaint or else they happen to be inspecting a business for other purposes.

You can place A-frame signs smack dab in the middle of a public sidewalk day in and day out and get away with it until someone either complains or you seek a building permit for an alteration.

None of this is new.

Its part of an ongoing charade that’s part of an orderly world created by the greatest piece of serial fiction ever penned – the Manteca Municipal Code.

The code, for example, bars the exposure of buttocks in public places such as parks, sidewalks and such. If you travel around Manteca long enough you will find more than a few saggers who show more than just their preference for boxers or briefs.

There is also a prohibition except for service dogs against taking a dog into any grocery store, food establishment, or meat market within the city limits whether you have it on a leash, in your arms or accompanies you in another manner. Drop by Target, SaveMart, Food-4-Less, and Wal-Mart sometime.

The city has a rule indicating that businesses that have more than three shopping carts impounded during a six-month period that were taken off their premises and left elsewhere in the city may face a municipal requirement to either put in a system that disables them so they can’t leave their premises or take other measures. Of course the word “may” means it is never going to happen even though virtually every store with shopping carts passes the three cart threshold within a week let alone six months.

There are, believe it or not, 32 specific sections of sidewalks along streets in Manteca where skateboarding or the use of roller skates is illegal. Among them is along Yosemite Avenue from 2,340 feet west of Union Road to 320 feet west of Austin Road. You can’t get any more specific than that yet there is skateboarding taking place on those sidewalks every day of the week.

Manteca actually has a curfew for those under age 18 between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. who aren’t suppose to be on the streets unless they are going or coming from work, home, or other “acceptable” venue as defined by the municipal code.  There are obviously a lot of young teens working swing and graveyard shifts in Manteca.

Then there is the outright prohibition of placing printed materials such as handbills on any vehicle at any time within the city limits. The city certainly is enforcing that municipal code section aggressively, are they?

Manteca’s elected leaders can wax eloquently about Sacramento’s overbearing regulations or state and federal laws that are enforced only when the bureaucrats feel like it. But in all honesty, cities such as Manteca aren’t much better.

Thumb through the Manteca Municipal Code and you’ll find something that makes each and every one of the city’s 71,000 residents lawbreakers of some type on any given day whether it is when we water or how we cross the street. (It is illegal for a pedestrian to cross any street, residential or otherwise, in Manteca unless it is done so at a right angle.)

That means the Manteca Municipal Code exists for two primary reasons: Appeasement of angry residents who want disruptive and anti-social behavior regulated and giving the city the ability to use selective enforcement essentially against people they have a bone to pick with.

That means the city never really intended to enforce the number of flag banner signs or A-frame signs lining sidewalks. It was all about putting in place tools where citizens could rat out other citizens they had particular issues with. As a bonus it gave city workers whom we are told never have time to enforce any of the municipal code to do so whenever someone who tries to  follow the rules and seeks a city permit for any endeavor regulated by the city. In one fell swoop that subjects them – and a few of their unfortunate neighbors – to the full wrath of the Manteca Municipal Code.

That is how a minor infraction can bring the bureaucratic gods crashing down on you while someone several blocks away has such flagrant violations that they can be detected by a legally blind person viewing a Google Earth screen shot.



This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or (209) 249-3519.

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