Manteca is taking steps to get a better handle on graffiti and trash along the 120 Bypass corridor.
The City Council has approved entering into an agreement with Caltrans allowing city crews — and/or volunteers — to conduct litter, debris, and graffiti removal within the state’s jurisdiction.
That means the city can respond quicker to graffiti eyesores on freeway sound walls and such.
As it is now — depending where the graffiti and such are at — the city needs to contact three different Caltrans maintenance yards in a bid to get such eyesores removed. Caltrans’ Tracy yard handles the 120 Bypass, the Stockton yard covers Highway 99 north of the Bypass, and the Modesto yard is responsible for Highway 99 south of the Bypass.
The deal provides liability coverage for Caltrans when city employees or volunteers working with the city are removing graffiti on state property along the freeways.
The city can be reimbursed up to $75,000 a year depending upon the amount of work they do. That does not prevent them from doing graffiti removal work in excess of $75,000 in any given year.
The compact — the second Caltrans has made with a city in San Joaquin County — is the outgrowth of the council making “cleaning up and beautifying Manteca” one of their highest priorities.
Caltrans has been responsive in the past when the city has contacted them about graffiti issues. But due to the area they cover and their workload it can take days or even weeks before the graffiti is removed.
With the agreement in place the city will be able to enter Caltrans right-of-way on its own to remove graffiti.
Manteca, over the years, has learned that the quicker traces of graffiti disappear that it discourages vandals from adding to property damage they have already done. It also prevents other “taggers” from joining in the destruction of property.
Earlier this year while pandemic lockdowns were in full effect, graffiti abatement became a major issue throughout Manteca. That’s because the Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) were sidelined. City crews worked to remove it as part of their overall tasks. Since the city doesn’t have a team per se committed to searching out and eradicating graffiti as the SHARP unit does, graffiti instead of being in place for just a few days lingered for weeks.
The agreement doesn’t address removing homeless encampments. That is a much more labor intensive and expensive proposition that requires agencies to take steps to give the homeless advance notice their illegal encampments are being removed.
Manteca works with Caltrans with periodic homeless encampment eradication efforts within the state’s right-of-way.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org