The City of Manteca is stepping up its game.
Instead of letting properties that they have been purchasing one by one since April for the McKinley Avenue 120 Bypass interchange linger to create blight, they have put in place a working plan to remove the now vacant homes and outbuildings as quickly as possible.
City Manager Tom Ogden reports the required asbestos and lead assessment is taking place on Monday, Aug. 28. Demolition proposals are due by Spt. 5.
That means the city expects to start work removing the homes and outbuildings before October.
If the city can adhere to the timetable it will be a marked departure from a long list of projects that disrupted day-to-day life in Manteca and dragged on for months — and even years — after they were started and promises made for targeted completion dates such as the Button Avenue pipeline work, Woodward Avenue work east of Van Ryn Road, and the Industrial Park Drive extension to name a few.
Calls for police serve
growing much faster
than Manteca Police
Reported crime per se may be down in Manteca but calls for police service continue to grow.
Service requests are up 6.97 percent this year through July 31. That’s 24,218 service calls in seven months compared to 22,639 for the same time period last year.
Even if crime is staying steady or dropping, Manteca Police are challenged to make deeper inroads or even address quality of life complaints as well as traffic issues that seem to irritate Manteca residents more and more with each passing year.
The reason: A shortage of officers. Councilman Mike Morowit noted during the June budget workshop that “the number one complaint I hear from citizens is that we need more police.”
While the council two months ago approved adding one more officer to police ranks for the first time in three years, standard practices most other communities use is at least one officer per 1,000 residents. Given Manteca’s growth in the last three years alone, the city would be short a little over three officers.
Manteca has added almost 5,000 residents in the past five years.
The city’s police force in terms of sworn officers on the street has grown by just one position during the same time. Manteca — by the yardstick most jurisdictions use of one officer per 1,000 residents — is at least nine sworn officers short even with a 66th officer budgeted. That’s because the State Department of Finance puts Manteca’s population at 75,000.
The 2008-2009 city budget had funding for 83 sworn officers including 11 from the half cent public safety tax. Manteca’s population in 2009 was just over 66,000 residents. Today Manteca is at 75,000. That is 9,000 more residents with 18 less sworn police officers.
Manteca never actually had 83 sworn officers due to vacancies and lag time that has traditionally been built into the hiring and recruitment system. If new positions are budgeted, the city typically waits until half way through the fiscal year before allowing departments to fill positions. The Great Recession’s impacts hit Manteca as 2008-2009 unfolded.
The city dropped to 55 sworn officers in the 2011-2012 budget. That number jumped to 64 the following year thanks to the city being able to add four more positions funded by the Public Safety Tax to bring those positions to the current level of 15 as well as fund four additions positions from the Public Safety Endowment Fund to restore a four-officer gang suppression unit.
Police Chief Jodie Estarziau had requested for additional police officers in addition to other personnel but city management staff declined to fund that request.