The Sahara Desert returned to Manteca Tuesday.
Drier, warmer weather coupled with wind gusts kicked up dusts at several construction sites with the worst being where Trumark Communities is preparing to build 492 age-restricted homes north of Louise Avenue just west of Cottage Avenue.
Nearby homes — particularly those in Kensington Place — were pelted with steady clouds of dust in the midafternoon. The dust also diminished visibility slightly for drivers on Louise Avenue.
The city has rules in place requiring developers to deploy water trucks when conditions exist to kick up dust storms. A call to the public works department to complain about such dust issues is appropriate unless, of course, you have no issue having your home blanketed with dust and eating it as well.
Manteca in 2000 declared airborne dirt and dust a public nuisance and health problem. It required “all persons owning, leasing or occupying real property within the city” to maintain their land to prevent “airborne transportation of sand, soil or dust from their property to be deposited in visible quantities on neighboring property.” The city even put an emergency ordinance in effect for six months that allowed the washing of sidewalks, driveways, patios, parking lots and other non-landscaped areas in the effected neighborhoods west of Union Road on specific days to remove dust and dirt. Many residents complained about going through pool filters, the walls of homes being coated with dust, and not being able to open windows. The dust was so bad that runoff from lawn watering and clearing the dust from houses and landscaping caused mud to build up in some city storm drains.
To make sure it didn’t happen again, the city put a system that is supposed to kick in to inform contractors when the winds reach a certain level that dust control was mandatory. Apparently that did not happen Tuesday.
Police chief nixes
Concerns about accurate ticket writing and the safety of trained volunteers issuing citations are reasons listed by Manteca Police Chief Jodie Estarziau not to embrace a City Council request that Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) volunteers could add ticket writing for some vehicle-related offenses to their long repertoire of duties.
Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu had asked whether it was feasible for SHARP volunteers to issue citations at least for handicapped parking zone violations as they once did before the practice was suspended in 2010.
Estarziau said the primary reason the department stopped having SHARP volunteers issue citations was due to some of those returning to their vehicles as they were being ticketed becoming belligerent and trying to physically intimidate volunteers.
She also said there were a high number of citations that were being dismissed after being reviewed by a department sergeant. From 2007 to 2010 the dismissal rate of all tickets written whether it was by officers or SHARP volunteers ranged from 104 to 130 a year. The number of dismals dropped to below 10 on an annual basis after that.
Estarziau did not have the number on how many tickets SHARP volunteers actually issued.
SHARP volunteers will continue to assist with the citation and abatement process involving inoperable vehicles or those that have been left parked on city streets for extended periods of time.
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