By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca cracks down on quality of life violations
city manteca logo

Manteca has stepped up its game to combat homeless crimes and absentee landlords cutting corners.

And it’s the same way they have been able to hit those caught firing off illegal fireworks hard in the pocketbook in greater numbers for endangering lives and property.

It was all made possible by a two-part decision made more than three years ago by the City Council.

*First, it was creating a full-time in-house city attorney instead of contracting out for roughly 20 or so hours a week in basic legal services.

*Second, it was to make sure the city attorney’s office was staffed comparably to what similar-sized cities have that have a successful track record of using legal means to get compliance with municipal ordinances designed to safeguard the quality of life as well as public health and safety concerns.

Today there are 2½ lawyers on staff including City Attorney Dave Nefouse.

The staffing level has reduced the need to engage outside counsel.

That said, when lawyers that have specialty practices such as bond issuance and such are needed the city will still retain their services.

Last year, the city attorney’s office successfully prosecuted over 100 municipal citations related to property upkeep while handling the legal process for city departments in abatement actions to remove debris and clean up properties in Manteca.

They also have reviewed quality of life citations issued regarding homeless conduct and have gone after the most egregious to make the biggest impacts.

An example is the pilfering of shopping carts by the homeless.

A one-time offender with one cart is problematic to get a penalty in place through the court system to effectively stop or punish a person from pilfering carts.

That said, their decision to prosecute a homeless individual who was cited by Manteca Police for possessing nine shopping carts that didn’t belong to him ended with a punishment dealt out by the court.

It is not the successful prosecution of citations issued to the homeless that are having the biggest impacts, however.

It is essentially going after situations that enable vagrancy.

Police were repeatedly being called to vacant buildings where the absentee property owner had supposedly given a homeless individual permission to be there to serve as security.

The homeless, in such cases, produce emails that state they have permission to do just that.

Legally, there is not anything the police can do as the property owner needs to file a complaint that someone is trespassing.

The city attorney’s office has responded to what had been a stalemate allowing the homeless on their own  or in conjunction with absentee property owners to cerate problems for neighboring residents or businesses by enforcing municipal and state code requirements that those providing security must be licensed and meet certain requirements.

One of them is to have a permit on file with the city.

Given the homeless can’t provide such documentation, the city can legally pressure them to leave.

In a few weeks the city will roll out a new anti-loitering program that requires posting of signs on commercial property by owners making it clear no loitering is allowed.

Police officers responding will approach those that are loitering with their body cameras on, inform them they are breaking  law, point to the sign(s) that are prominently displayed, and record an image of the sign.

That gives the city attorney’s office the proof it needs to add teeth via real penalties against those that do not comply to the officer’s lawful request to move and are issued citations.

It also opens the door to potential arrests when such persons refuse to leave the posted premises.

The work is done in addition to a long list of legal work from reviewing municipal codes and contracts. dealing with claims and litigation, reviewing proposed city actions, to ordinances for legal compliance, and such.

The office also has been able to reduce the time needed to deal with issues that come up such as successfully defending administrative appeals by cannabis license applicants that were irked that were not awarded the ability to sell marijuana in Manteca.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email