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Got weeds? It may cost you
Manteca whacking chronic violators $100
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Chronic violators of Manteca’s weed abatement laws are not only creating fire hazards but they’re costing taxpayers at least $200 to get them to comply.

It is why repeat offenders besides now facing cost recovery charges that will be more than the $102 penalty the courts typically slap on them for dragging their feet will also be subjected to a $100 fine. The fine is for failing to abate their weeds in a timely manner for two years in a row. The fine jumps to $200 if they fail to do so for three or more consecutive years.

The punitive fines adopted Tuesday by the Manteca City Council are five times higher than what Fire Chief Kirk Waters proposed.

Councilman Steve DeBrum said $200 “is not a deterrent” to prompt someone to act to abate their weeds before they are cited by the Manteca Fire department.

DeBrum queried Waters and found out that the city is spending roughly $80,000 to get about 400 habitual offenders to comply year in and year out. The city typically issues 1,400 weed citations each year. There are up to three re-inspections before the city takes the final step of placing a lien on property and abating it using a private contractor. By then, almost all of the 400 comply. The only problem is the city has expended well over $200 to get people to comply in terms of manpower and other costs.

The City Council also approved putting in place an administrative process that would allow them to recover the actual costs of re-inspection on top of the punitive fine. Right now the city goes through the court system. That means most fines are $102 unless the city has to abate the weeds by hiring a contractor and then the fine goes to $180. Manteca, though only gets about 20 percent of any court imposed fine. The rest of it goes to the county to help pay for the district attorney’s office and the courts.

Waters had estimated the chronic offenders would generate $8,000 in revenue for the city. The fire chief said he had no problem if the much higher fine drastically reduced the number of violators as the goal is to get people to comply to reduce fire hazards. But if they don’t comply, the city will be able to pocket $80,000 plus receive all the actual costs expended to essentially pay one and a quarter firefighting positions once benefits are factored into the equation.

The annual weed abatement program starts May 15.

The Manteca Fire Department will inspect every parcel of land within the community.

Citations will be issued to any and all property owners maintaining fire or nuisance hazards on any property within the City of Manteca. After notification, if the fire hazard and/ or nuisance is not promptly abated, the property owner will be required to appear in court. This includes, but is not limited to weeds, rubbish, dirt, trash, grass, dead trees, vegetation or other materials which constitute a public nuisance.

Manteca’s weed abatement rules
Specifically, the following standards apply within Manteca’s city limits:

• Property of 1/2 acre or more: Mow all vegetation to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches in height. Remove all grass, weeds or debris from the property. Disc or till the entire property. (In the process of abating property, keep dust production to a minimum to ensure compliance with Manteca Municipal Code Section 8.17 - Prevention of airborne sand, soil or dust traveling to neighboring properties in visible amounts.)

• Property of 1/2 acre or less: Mow all vegetation to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches in height. Rake and remove all dry grass.

• Trees and shrubs: All dead trees, shrubs and bushes must be cut down and removed from the property. Prunings must also be removed from the property.

• Alleys: Mow all grass and/ or weeds to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches in height. Fence lines must be clean and free of weeds. Any and all combustibles must be removed. This includes, but is not limited to, trash, rubbish, dry grass, prunings, clippings, auto parts and furniture. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of the alley from the property line to the center of the alley.

• All properties: All weeds, rubbish, excess dirt, trash, dry vegetation, discarded furniture, appliances, garbage, auto parts or other material which constitutes a public nuisance, must be abated from the property line to fence line.

If you have any questions, contact the Fire Prevention Division at 456-8340, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For abatement of inoperable and/ or abandoned vehicles contact the Code Enforcement Officer at 456-8156.