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Roofs over trash enclosures effective tool
Nothing says “welcome to Manteca” like trash bins out in the open with garbage strewn about such as was seen between Bank of the West and Chipotle’s on Thursday afternoon. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

small but growing number of businesses have found a way to improve customer and employee safety as well as reduce visual blight.

They’re placing low roofs attached to vertical bars over dumpster and trash been enclosures.

It is reducing the amount of homeless, vagrants, and even drug dealers around their businesses.

That’s because it takes away a hiding place of sorts where illegal transactions can be conducted by drug dealers and their customers that mingle with the homeless to provide cover. It eliminates dumpster diving. It also takes away places for homeless to bed down and to store belongings.

It’s a form of passive enforcement of the law — all of the above that was described is illegal including camping on private property — much like A-frame signs asking customers not to give money to panhandlers that have reduced that problem considerably around stores using them.

The concept has merit at reducing homeless issues.

The city could help it along by not only encouraging businesses to do what places like the Holiday Inn Express, Sizzler’s, and the Chevron station at Yosemite and Spreckels have done but also making no-interest loans to put the roofs and bars in over enclosures for small businesses on a  tight budget. The loans could be repaid via the monthly solid waste billing.

The city gets less trash spread around and attractive nuisances for the homeless and criminal element are eliminated.

The city might also want to consider such a no-interest loan program to encourage businesses that were built before trash enclosures were mandated or that have added additional bins to build the enclosures with roofs over them.

Nothing says “welcome to Manteca” like the garbage and unfenced recycling bins that greet those stopping by Chipotle’s and the extensively visited nearby dining, coffee, and juice establishments.

The best example of fencing and eliminating access to trash bin enclosures to reduce problems can be found at the Spreckels Historical Plaza behind the Chevron station at Yosemite and Spreckels avenues.

After more than a year dealing with public defecation, drug paraphernalia being strewn about, illegal camping, irrigation system wiring being ripped out to recycle, graffiti, trash left behind and light bulbs being constantly broken — all the handiwork primarily of homeless — Bill Filios finally fenced the area off. Filios and his partners plan to find another use for the property. Meanwhile by taking the gathering place for homeless and vagrants away, issues with both at nearby businesses including the Food-4-Less shopping center dropped significantly.

When the homeless then started piling in four deep camping in the trash bin enclosure connected with the plaza, he had it fenced off including fencing over the top.

For several weeks several homeless defied Filios by sleeping on top of the fencing across the top of the enclosure but finally moved on.

He had employees who were threatened by the homeless while trying to maintain the plaza.

The same is true of several merchants before they added the roofs and bars over their trash bin enclosures. 

Making Manteca less inviting to the homeless to illegally use private property while at the same time eliminating places where criminals can sell drugs is an effective way to improve the quality of life in Manteca as well as pave the way for more people on the street to take the help that is being offered for them.

Now the question is will anybody at city hall — or elected officials — give the concept a try as part of an effort to make their homeless endeavors even more effective?

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email