It’s one or the other for the time being – either people are camping on city property or opting to pitch tents at city’s emergency homeless center at 555 Industrial Park Drive.
That’s what the City of Manteca must allow until such time a proper shelter is put in place to house the homeless.
The city is in the process of doing that with a shelter consisting of four portable structures including dorms to sleep a combined 50 individuals at 555 Industrial Park Dive.
That may not happen until sometime between December and March
It is a temporary measure while a homeless navigation center is constructed several blocks away off Carnegie Court.
And if there are no beds still available after that, the city has to allow those unhoused to camp or sleep in public places.
In an effort to help educate the public about the current status of the homeless in the community, the Manteca Police Department posted a number of images on social media channels on Tuesday outlining the city’s current policies with enforcing its existing no-camping ordinance – which was essentially usurped by a Federal circuit court ruling in 2018.
According to the agency, the Manteca Police are largely not enforcing the ordinance because of the Martin v. Boise case in which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that municipalities cannot enforce no-camping ordinances if they do not have shelter beds available for that population.
The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2019, which left the precedent intact in the states that comprise the 9th Circuit – Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
That said, it is illegal for the homeless to camp or sleep on private property.
The Manteca Police, however, are powerless to enforce that provision of the city code when they see such camping unless property owners have a no trespass letter on file with the department.
“Here at Manteca PD we believe that sharing information in regards to issues within our community is of the utmost importance,” the agency wrote in the post sharing the legal information. “With that in mind we would like to shed a light on the state laws surrounding homelessness in our local community.
“Let’s support compassion and solutions as we work together to make Manteca a city we can be proud of!”
While California’s high cost of housing and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help matters, Manteca has long been on the forefront of dealing with an issues that has since grown to impact virtually all of the state – dedicating resources to helping individuals find steady shelter and the assistance needed to get off of the street.
Even before the Boise ruling was handed down, Manteca’s elected officials had authorized dedicating sworn law enforcement officers to serving as a bridge between the homeless population and agencies and organizations that exist to assist them – helping reunite dozens of people with family members in other states, and aiding in getting placement for individuals and families that needed a roof over their head.
Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly was chosen to serve in his current role because of the relationship he had built with the homeless in the community in his capacity with the department.
As the city navigated the adjustment that the court decision required, Kelly often served as the first face that Manteca unhoused individuals see when camping in places like Library Park and near the Manteca Public Library as he is the one that notifies them that they need to clean up their space and move along until night comes.
He still continues that work to this day, and the model has been studied by other agencies looking to replicate it.
The Manteca Police also shared that on weekdays, it is against the law to have a recreational vehicle parked that is still attached to a vehicle that can move it – making it illegal for RVs and camper trailers to be used for sleeping purposes by the homeless within residential areas.
For more information about the agency’s policies, visit the Manteca Police Department’s website at www.manteca.gov/departments/police-department and enter in the keyword “homelessness.”To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.