The sound walls along the south side of the 120 Bypass that flank the Van Ryn Avenue undercrossing could be called Manteca’s social economic DMZ.
On the south side are the city’s two priciest apartment complexes — Paseo Villas and Tesoro — where one bedroom apartments start at $1,615 and go as high as $1,945 a month. On the north side of the wall are homeless encampments.
While none are directly behind the Tesoro complex where a three bedroom and two bathroom apartment can set you back $2,625 a month, a number are clustered behind the Juniper Apartments next door that provide subsidized workforce housing. A number are also being Paseo Villas.
A well-worn path from Van Ryn Avenue leads to the encampments just north of the wall that are almost invisible from the passing 120 Bypass traffic as opposed to the encampments set up on the north side of the 120 Bypass behind Spreckels Park.
Caltrans apparently gave up a long time ago trying to replace the cyclone fencing that the homeless kept knocking down to gain access. It has gotten so bad in recent months that some homeless actually drive their cars to the encampments sandwiched between the sound wall and the earthen freeway embankment.
Those homeless accessing the area behind the Juniper Apartments that actually have vehicles often park along Moffat Boulevard under the 120 Bypass overcrossing or in the Manteca Business Park parking lot across Moffat.
Most of the homeless, though, get to the encampments on foot or on bicycles.
The area in question along the 120 Bypass and nearby Highway 99 is under the jurisdiction of three different Caltrans maintenance operations that are based in Stockton, Modesto, and Tracy.
Periodically Manteca Police in conjunction with the three Caltrans units will do encampment sweeps as it is illegal — and unsafe — to camp along state freeways.
The area near the Van Ryn Avenue overcrossing in the past five years has been the site of grass fires — a number that were suspected of being the work of an arsonist — that have burned where many of the tents and makeshift shelters are now located. In addition there have been accidents where vehicles have ended up going down the embankments.
Before areas can be cleared out, court rulings have required that illegal homeless encampments to be posted so people have the opportunity to remove their belongings.
Four split $500 in
city logo contest
The City of Manteca is splitting $500 for the top entries in the contest to help design a new municipal logo four ways.
Ashley Adams, Ching Lau, Raul Arturo Reyes Rojo, and Aimee Rubio had the top entries among 60 that submitted work. Reyes Rojo will receive $200 since he submitted two if the top five designs.
You will have the chance to say which of the five designs — tweaked by staff into four final logos — as well as the existing city seal you prefer in voting the city is setting up on social media to run through the end of the month.