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Manteca Fire going after weed-infested yards
The weeds at a home in the 300 block of Fremont Avenue are the target of a legal proceeding by the City of Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters is well aware of the fire hazard posed by the front yard of a home in the 300 block of Fremont Avenue that is choked with five-foot-high weeds.

The department is midway through a two-month civil process they must take before they can legally hire someone to go in and eliminate the fire hazard and then place a lien against the property to ultimately recoup the cost.

The ability of the city to move timely against such property in the future has improved substantially now that the “Responsible Property Ownership” ordinance adopted by the Manteca City Council in May legally went into effect earlier this month.

Under the new process that involves an administrative hearing the response time to safety hazards and property issues will be shortened to about 30 days from start of the complaint to being able to do something about it.

The ordinance is designed to give the city a new weapon to address habitual problems in neighborhoods by giving the city the authority to go after property owners for safety violations that would subject them to criminal and civil penalties.

Unlike criminal proceeding against individuals who may commit particular crimes, the courts have upheld the process that allows property maintenance laws to more effectively address health, safety and quality of life issues in neighborhoods. The ordinance not only has a mechanism for financial penalties whether it is through the administrative or judicial process but it also allows the city to recoup all of the costs it invests to try and get property owners to correct a problem.

The ordinance applies to all private property whether it is owner occupied, owned by a landlord or whether it is residential, industrial or retail.

Waters also has encouraged residents who are aware of property with dry vegetation that poses a fire safety to contact the department.

“Some of them we may already be in the process of working on but even so we’d like to hear from people to make sure we are addressing what needs to be done,” Water said.

If you have any concerns about fire hazards, contact the Fire Prevention Division at 456-8340, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.