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City stepping up to combat downtown public urination, other homeless issues
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For the last 51 years Janis Music has been a generational go-to for families with musically gifted children – offering lessons to help them make it to the next level on their given instrument. 

But as Inda Janis pointed out at a downtown business summit Thursday night at The Emory Hall, it doesn’t matter how deep the ties go when her students are stepping over fresh needles and staring at vagrants urinating on the businesses back wall as they make their way to their tutoring appointment. 

It looks bad. And it’s constant and ongoing and something that she’d like to see taken care of – knowing full well that the Manteca Police Department is hampered by laws that don’t permit them to arrest the culprits unless they’re caught in the act. 

“We can’t just get up and leave because we own our building,” she said. “I don’t want children taking piano lessons to come in and have to see that – they shouldn’t have to see somebody urinating on my building when they come inside. We find feces on our back porch and smeared on our wall and when we do something about it the gentleman that is responsible breaks out our front windows. 

“I know that it’s difficult for the police too but it gets tiring when you’re watching this happen over-and-over. We need to have some way to make this better.”

Well, help is on the way. 

On Tuesday the City of Manteca will introduce an ordinance that will make public urination and defecation – both things that downtown merchants have dealt with – misdemeanors and allow officers to arrest those that are suspected and allow them to be booked in the San Joaquin County Jail for the violation. Currently the cases that are referred to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office are rarely taken. 

“We’re hoping that 30 days from next Tuesday we’ll be able to implement that and then we’ll be able to step in and start doing something about these situations,” Police Chief Nick Obligacion said. “That will give us the ability to do things that we weren’t able to do before.”

Another merchant, who says he routinely finds homeless people sleeping on his property, asked Obligacion what could be done if they’re trespassing.

And new rules are coming on that front as well. 

According to Obligacion, any business owner that calls the police on somebody that is trespassing and fills out a form that will be filed at the Police Department only has to call back again if that person is back on their property. They will then be arrested and the DA will prosecute the case. 

Obligacion said he would talk about those strategies in more detail in two weeks at the citywide homeless summit – being held on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at the Manteca Transit Center at South Main Street and Moffat Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.