Homeless encampments anywhere in Manteca could be illegal by December.
The Manteca City Council when they meet tonight at 7 o’clock at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., will consider adopting an ordinance outlawing homeless encampments on public and private property.
There is no current state law or city ordinance prohibiting such encampments.
The ordinance is part of a comprehensive approach the city is taking to combat growing complaints about the homeless in Manteca. The complaints run the gamut from aggressive panhandling, drug and alcohol use in public places, defecating and urination in public, and intimidating others trying to use parks.
At the same time Police Chief Nick Obligacion is seeking solutions for those homeless that want to get back on their feet. To that end, a homeless summit is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Station, Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street.
Residents are invited to share concerns and possible solutions during an open microphone session from 9 a.m. to noon. Then from 1 to 4 p.m. Obligacion is meeting with organizations with an interest in working with the homeless as well as agencies that already provide services.
The ordinance would make it unlawful to construct or occupy homeless encampments on any street, in any park, on publicly owned or maintained parking lots or parcels and on all private property. And since it is a municipal ordinance, it would be prosecuted by the city attorney and not the district attorney’s office that has a backlog of more pressing and violent crimes.
The proposed ordinance defines transient shelter paraphernalia as tarps, canvas, cardboard, corrugated tin or other materials, cots, beds, mattresses, hammocks, non-city designated cooking facilities, and sanitary facilities for storage or disposal of human waste such as portable potty units.
The ordinance is designed to prevent the following:
• Safety hazards to persons and property from open flame fires without property containment much like the one that destroyed a vacant home last summer on Union Road while imperiling seven other nearby homes.
• Obstruction or impediments in public right of ways.
• Negative environmental impacts and health concerns regarding the improper disposal of solid waste, detergents and fuels plus air pollution caused by improper open fires.
• Public health impacts by the open urination and defecating on public and private properties.
• Negative impacts on public property by interfering with its intended uses.
If the council OKs the ordinance tonight and reaffirms that vote on Nov. 4 when a second reading takes place, the anti-homeless encampment law would go into effect Dec. 4.
It would allow police to move quicker to have such encampments torn down and disposed of by city crews when they appear on private property without first being invited to do so by the property owner who now have to make a trespassing complaint first.
It is designed to address vacant lots and other remote locations.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org.