Trucks are vital.
And so are the lives of pedestrians, the quality of life in Manteca neighborhoods, and avoiding unwarranted destruction of street pavement.
There is also little doubt that truck movements will increase significantly as Manteca builds a multi-faceted economy around agriculture, distribution, regional family entertainment, and even regional retail.
It is why Manteca’s leaders need to set the stage so the trucking industry and Manteca residents can co-exist by establishing balanced regulations built on the fact the economy can’t work without trucks and people have the right to expect the city to protect and enforce a baseline quality of life standard.
Make the penalty for repeated
Illegal truck parking regressive
The City Council can take the first step Tuesday.
Staff is recommending the council increase the fine for trucks parking illegally on neighborhood streets that are not legal truck routes when they are not making a delivery or pickup.
Manteca Police Lieutenant Paul Carmona notes the $50 fine that hasn’t been increased in 20 years is so low that truckers they ticket tell them they are going to keep parking on neighborhood streets because it is cheaper with the occasional ticket than paying to park in commercial truck parking lots.
Carmona recommends increasing fine for illegal truck parking to $125 to being it in-line with nearby jurisdictions.
Manteca can do better. They should reject staff recommendation and instead adopt the regressive ticketing model Escalon employs.
Escalon’s fine is $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and $500 for the third offense.
The Escalon fee structure is punitive enough that the trucker playing the odds of how often he is likely to get ticketed given police often have higher priority calls and complaints to address before they get around to acting on calls regarding illegal truck parking is likely not willing to risk being a repeat offender.
Securing a legal parking place for trucks is a cost of doing business.
Not only are the semi-trucks substantially accelerating the wear and tear of streets designed for vehicle traffic but someone firing up a big rig engine in the early morning hours just yards from your bedroom window as they prepare to make a run isn’t what sweet dreams are made of.
The staff also wants the city to establish an $88 fine for auxiliary noise emitting from trucks. If you’ve ever had someone park a refrigerated truck in your neighborhood or upwind from your home, you’d argue the fine should be $888. But the $88 fine coupled with regressive fining for illegal truck parking should get the message across.
Now let’s make truck
route usage reasonable
The city’s long overdue master truck route plan that is apparently moving forward with the update of Manteca’s general plan does right by the trucking community.
When the new and expanded truck routes are officially adopted the council needs to direct staff — and not consultants — to drive the truck routes so Manteca can do right by the community as well.
Staff needs to make a list of where truck parking should be prohibited. Among the obvious places to note is proximity to schools, driveways, pedestrian crossings — delineated and inferred — as well as intersections.
They then need to identify remedies whether it is outlawing vehicles over 6 feet from parking in specific areas and delineating it by signage or spending money to paint curbing red.
It’s always been a barrel of laughs over the years when someone suggests painting curbs red in front of fire hydrants that repeatedly are the subject of illegal parking for top ranking bureaucrats to pooh-pooh it because people know it is illegal to do so and the city has too many fire hydrants to invest that kind of time and money.
No one is asking them to paint red curbing by all fire hydrants, just the ones where at least once a week someone is spotted parking in front of them.
One such hydrant is on Moffat where truckers almost on a daily basis block the hydrant.
City should act like they really
care about pedestrian safety
Now that the city has again spent six figures on an “active transportation plan” — the politically correct term to describe pedestrians and bicyclists these days — as they do every 15 or so years, hopefully they will actually do something.
While such studies list millions upon millions of dollars of pressing and not so pressing improvements to make bicycling and waking in Manteca safer and by extension easier to do, it is rare something physically gets done.
I happen to reside in Powers Tract, a mid-1950s-early 1960s neighborhood sandwiched between Spreckels Park and Manteca High that has the dubious distinction of being the city’s first honest-to-goodness tract neighborhood.
Much ado was made when the Tidewater Bike Path went in that the neighborhood could access it. Running between the Tidewater and the edge of the neighborhood is Moffat Boulevard, one of the city’s currently legal truck routes.
It also is a connector street to downtown from South Manteca via Van Ryn Avenue as well a Spreckels Park. Moffat is a connector street with no “stops” for a mile. Speeds typically average 45 mph with more than a few drivers approaching 50 based on city radar checks over the years.
The two neighborhood streets that connect to Moffat — Powers which is also a collector street and Cowell — are T-intersections. At both intersections the Tidewater has short paved connectors aligned with a “driveway” to allow bicyclists safe access. Powers happens to have a crosswalk while Cowell doesn’t.
One would think a city so focused on pedestrian safety that they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars studying it, would be hyper vigilant about making sure pedestrian crossings aren’t blocked or obstructed by trucks.
Guess again. The Cowell access point to the Tidewater is blocked almost on an every other day basis by a semi-truck.
And when it isn’t bicyclists and pedestrians are forced to step almost all the way to the travel lane edge of the bike lane along Moffat to see if vehicles are barreling down on them at 45 mph before they try to cross the street. That’s thanks to massive big rigs obstructing the view.
Now that the truck repair facility that was operating a non-compliant commercial truck parking lot is making the necessary improvements even more trucks are parked along Moffat. That includes on top of the crosswalk at Powers. While they aren’t blocking the crosswalk per se, they are obstructing sight lines significantly.
In all likelihood given the crossings are at T-intersections, the truckers likely don’t realize what they are doing. This is why signage and red paint for a reasonable distance on both sides of the crossing is more than justified.
But given the mentality of Manteca leadership over the years it will take someone getting killed — or in the case a few years back near Manteca High — seriously injured before they will take even the most rudimentary and obvious steps to improve pedestrian safety.
Manteca doesn’t need bronze statues at city entrances, a gleaming new city hall complex, a fancy downtown, or other amenity statements when it is completely clueless — or fails to address — basic traffic safety concerns.
Make Manteca livable for basic needs first before we start devoting energy to gingerbread trappings.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com