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Safer Manteca downtown via design plans?

Imagine Manteca’s downtown with large, unobstructed windows with outdoor dining options.

That was part of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) presentation provided by staff at the Economic Development Committee on Wednesday.

CPTED promotes the proper design, maintenance and use of the built environment to enhance the quality of life while reducing crime along with the fear of crime.

J.D. Hightower, who is the Planning Manager for the City of Manteca’s Community Development Department, noted that Portland has implemented a highly praised model of a CPTED plan.

His staff consisting of Assistant Planner Mallorie Fenrich and Associate Planners Adam Paszkowski and Tendai Mtunga recently completed Part 1 of the CPTED training – they’re expected to finish Part 2 by next year.

“Natural surveillance are windows,” said Fenrich, who, along with the group, is hoping that CPTED’s “holistic approach” will eventually be incorporated in to the city’s zoning code and design standards.

The overall goal for CPTED on natural surveillance is “see and been seen” – a person is less likely to commit if someone will see them do it, according to the group.

Paszkowski also mentioned reducing crime via planning consisting of businesses with low, open rod iron fences as part of the natural access control. The goal for CPTED is not necessarily to keep intruders out but to direct the flow of people while decreasing the opportunity for crime.

He added that using plant growth (vines or thorny plants) and murals on wall not only provides community pride but deters graffiti.

Meanwhile, clear and open pathways coupled with the use of directional signage would help guide people to and from the proper entrance.

CPTED principle also fosters community.

Burglar bars on windows and fortress-looking buildings – take the old Kmart building, for example – may be safe for those on the inside but the occupants are usually unaware of what’s going on outside.

“All eyes on the street will deter crime,” Mtunga said.

LED lights would be preferred in parking lots because it’s more of a natural light and closest to sunlight, mentioned Paszkowski.

“LED (lights) promotes a sense of safety,” he said.

Mayor Steve DeBrum, who also serves on the Economic Development Committee, pointed out at the old billiards building as a what-not-to-do example.

“It had dark, tinted windows and you couldn’t see inside,” he said.

For Fenrich, Paszkowski and Mtunga, each went to different cities throughout the state as part of their two-year CPTED training.

They also witnessed first-hand the principles being put in place, according to Hightower.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail