Back in the heyday of volunteers issuing citations for violations regarding handicapped parking, expired registration, parking for longer than 72 hours and for trucks parking throughout the city on streets that were not truck routes the Manteca Police Department’s Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) unit issued an annual peak of 1,786 tickets.
That was in 2009. The SHARP average for the three years of 2007, 2008, and 2009 was 1,516 tickets. It is a far cry from what former SHARP leader Jack Snyder recalled (5,000) and less than what Police Chief Jodie Estarziau (3,000) ventured a guess as to what they were. Overall during the three plus years SHARP volunteers were authorized to issue non-moving citations they issued 4,650 tickets.
The look at what SHARP volunteers once did was spurred by Mayor Ben Cantu responding to a growing frustration among many in Manteca that the city simply isn’t doing enough enforcement of traffic laws regarding both moving and non-moving violations.
Cantu brought the issue up at a council meeting by indicating he’d like to see SHARP volunteers be trained and authorized to issue tickets for parking violations in handicapped zones and possibly other infractions.
Estarziau in her research indicated it might be possible to have handicapped parking enforced by SHARP volunteers who are properly trained but likely not other infractions.
She did stress that when sworn officers and community service officers have the time they do enforce parking laws and such.
The police department could enforce lower priority laws more robustly if they had the manpower with additional officers or even a community service officer dedicated primarily to parking enforcement and then used as needed elsewhere. Manteca back in the early 1990s did have a parking enforcement officer.
Of course the issue always comes down to money.
There is one source of money Cantu might push to have the city tap into and that’s the $1.3 million a year and growing in property taxes being diverted into the economic development reserve.
The city staff refers to this as residual property tax from the shutting down of the redevelopment agency that currently generates $1.3 million a year. It has the ability to go up at least 2 percent a year under Proposition 13.
This is money that was originally culled from city property taxes those with homes and property within the now defunct Manteca RDA paid for the issuance and retiring of bonds that helped build a number of things in Manteca including Big League Dreams, underwriting affordable housing projects and paying part of the tab for major road projects.
Had the RDA not been set up, the money would have flowed into the general fund to pay for police, fire, streets, and such.
A lot of property in Manteca will be paying taxes to retire the outstanding RDA debt for at least 20 years. The $1.3 million represents what was no longer needed to retire that debt on an annual basis.
The economic development fund was set up using that money at the suggestion of former City Manager Karen McLaughlin who characterized it as funds “the city got along without just fine.”
There are more than a few people who will argue otherwise.
If that $1.3 million was to be treated like the rest of the property tax the city collects, 25 percent or $325,000 would go into reserves. The rest — $975,000 — would be divvied between the departments for ongoing costs. That would provide public safety with about $620,000 with police getting about $390,000 a year based on current budgeting. That is enough to hire one new sworn traffic officer and a community service officer with their top priority being parking related issues and perhaps citations for targeted code enforcement and still have almost $150,000 left over.
It’s a “Wizard of Oz” dilemma. Just like Dorothy the council already has the power and the money to do what they keep saying they want to do.
Shasta Park parking
lot craters disappear
A contractor hired by the city has repaved the Shasta Park parking area along Edison Street next to Shasta School effectively repairing some of the worst municipal parking pavement in Manteca.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com