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Its not illegal to simply be homeless
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Manteca Police have taken a zero tolerance stance when it comes to those hanging out at Library Park.

If they have a shopping cart in their possession that belongs to a store, they are cited.

If they have an unlicensed dog, the animal is impounded.

If they are smoking within the state law mandated free smoke zone around children’s playground equipment, they are cited.

If they are sitting on a park table in violation of a municipal ordinance, they are cited.

But unless the “homeless” and others that gather at Library Park during the day are breaking the law by drinking alcohol or setting up camp overnight, there isn’t much Manteca Police can do to alleviate concerns people have about those who hang out at the park.

“They have just as much right to be there as anyone else,” Bricker said.

Essentially, it isn’t against the law to be homeless.

The police chief, though, is acutely aware that while no one’s safety has been threatened by the “homeless” in Library Park he understands there are concerns about comfort levels.

Bricker noted that one of the reasons his department has stepped up efforts to keep an eye on the adults who gather at the park is the fact Library Park is one of the few parks designed to cater to small children with its tot playground as well as interactive water feature.

“We can’t force (homeless) to stay away from the park without running afoul of the constitution,” Bricker said.

Bricker added that yelling and saying obscenities - complaints that have brought officers to Library Park on occasions after receiving calls from citizens - aren’t illegal per se.

However if someone feels their “peace” is being disturbed, that could be another issue as long as they are willing to make a complaint.

“If anyone has ideas we’d sure like to hear them,” Bricker said.

One thing Bricker is contemplating is getting together with groups that provide services to the homeless to see if they can dispense them at a different location such as in the Manteca Industrial Park off South Main Street.

“We’re not sure if they (the homeless) congregate at Library Park because services have been available there or if it is simply because there is a lot of shade and nearby food,” Bricker added.

Bricker confirmed that most of the homeless are Manteca residents.

“They aren’t homeless as in sleeping the streets,” Bricker said. “They usually are staying with someone for a few weeks and moving around until they get back on their feet. Library Park is basically a place where they gather during the day.”

It is relatively rare when there is a non-Manteca among the homeless at Library Park.

Bricker noted one such man when questioned by officers indicated he was trying to get back to Napa.

“We bought him a bus ticket and sent him to Napa because that is where he wanted to go,” Bricker said.

Bricker noted that isn’t the same as a policy of one nearby jurisdiction that has been known to drive the homeless to the city limits of an adjoining city and drop them off which is how some homeless have ended up in Manteca in previous years.

The jurisdiction in question has since stopped the practice.