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Homeless find shelter in park restrooms
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City Manager Karen McLaughlin stressed Wednesday that Manteca’s municipal parks are safe for residents to use following the City Council’s decision this week to hire a uniformed security service to lock bathrooms and other facilities at night.

The request to go with a security firm stems from repeated confrontations  city employees have been having when either locking or unlocking park restrooms.

McLaughlin said they have encountered individuals — the bulk of which she described as homeless — inside who refused to leave and that often threaten workers. Sometimes the individuals are naked and/or have debris strewn on the flow including needles. They either break in after restrooms are locked for the night or refuse to leave when workers — primarily part-time employees who more often than not quit their jobs due to repeated confrontations — go to lock the restrooms.

Municipal Director of Human Resources and Risk Management Joe Kriskovich said the security firm is the same one the City of Modesto has obtained to combat similar problems in that city’s parks.

McLaughlin emphasized the encounters aren’t day-to-day occurrences but sometimes happen as often as once a week. It is similar to problems that some Manteca business have reported that have tool sheds and such for sale that are left out overnight. In those instances store employees  are sometime tasked with cleaning out the tool sheds that often have needles, discarded clothing,  and used condoms.

McLaughlin said staff hopes someone trained in how to handle confrontations and that is wearing a uniform will have better success in dealing with the situations.

The security firm has provided the option of having the guards assigned to Manteca parks armed with guns but the council declined to pursue the suggestion at the present time.

The $22,000 to pay the firm will come from money the city budgeted for the part-time position that is currently vacant.

The city has restrooms at Woodward, Lincoln, Northgate, and Morenzone parks that are opened daily to the public. The Library Park restrooms are only opened for events. People using the park can go to the library desk and ask for a key to use the library restrooms.

Smile, you’re on

Apple camera

A red mini-van equipped with  scanning cameras was spotted in Manteca early Wednesday afternoon turning left from East Yosemite Avenue to north bound Powers Avenue.

Signs on the vehicle indicate they were scanning street scenes for Apple Maps.