By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Behling vows to focus on inner workings of city government
Placeholder Image
Solid waste route drivers would become the first line of defense against blight if Manteca City Council  hopeful Richard Behling has his way.

Behling is one of four declared council candidates seeking election to two seats in the Nov. 2 election. The others are incumbents Vince Hernandez and John Harris as well as challenger Samuel Anderson.

Code enforcement - or more precisely neighborhood quality of life issues - is the cornerstone of Behling’s candidacy along with striving to make local government even more transparent.

Behling doesn’t have major qualms with projects the city has undertaken although he won’t support the city of “being in the business of business” by making any more incentive-style deals that secured Bass Pro Shops and Costco.

“The city doesn’t really generate private sector jobs,” Behling noted.

Behling believes city government exists to do the things that people as individuals can’t do such a provide clean drinking water, a sanitary wastewater system, storm drainage, garbage collection, public safety, and streets among other things.

That is why he wants to focus on the internal workings of government that be contends ultimately will improve neighborhoods and the quality of life.

He believes the existing code enforcement effort is more of an afterthought. Behling has researched other cities and has come across several that he believes are effective when it comes to code enforcement.  One involves enlisting solid waste drivers as the front line in code enforcement.

“They (the drivers) see virtually every property in the city once a week from their trucks,” Behling said. “They would be the eyes of code enforcement.”

He also would set up code enforcement free of other departments so it doesn’t become a low priority item.

Code enforcement is now part of the Manteca Police Department.

“They (code enforcement) would work with other departments,” Behling said.

Behling understands some people believe they have the absolute right to do what they wish with their own property. But with people living in close proximity sometimes how people use their property interferes with the rights of others.

In such cases the city is reasonable to adopt property use and maintenance laws. However, Behling points out the city has a spotty record of enforcing them and in some cases, such as the CC&Rs - covenants, conditions, and restrictions placed on approved lots in new housing projects - the city simply passes the buck when problems arise and tells property owners who have non-complying neighbors to use the civil court to get the rules enforced.

“If neighbors can’t work things out then the city needs to do its part,” Behling said.

Behling hopes the new administrative system that went into effect this month to address property maintenance issues will be more effective than the civil route.

In terms of transparency, Behling wants the city to be more open in dealing with residents.

“If you go to find out how many dogs your neighbor has registered (because you have a problem with multiple barking dogs) you are told that it is a privacy issue,” Behling noted.

Yet the city has a law on the books saying you can’t have more than three dogs.

He also wants to use technology to make more of the city’s business public and transparent.

“Newspaper stories only skim the surface,” Behling said.

Behling said he’d strive to get city workers who deal with regulations such as zoning and property use “to speak the same language” as residents and businesses.

“It’s like you’re speaking two different languages at times,” Behling said in dealing with city staff on property related issues.

Behling has been attending council meetings on a regular basis for the past two years. He said he plans to make an appointment in the coming weeks with City Manager Steve Pinkerton to learn more about redevelopment agency law and how it functions.

The reason is simple. The RDA constitutes the largest chunk of Manteca’s budget eclipsing the general fund by more than double in terms of money involved.

Behling does not intend to spend more than $1,000 on his campaign in addition to having a candidate’s statement listed as part of the sample ballot.