The days of camping on Manteca’s streets and in public areas may be numbered.
The Manteca City Council will consider adopting ordinance changes Tuesday that makes camping illegal on sidewalks and other public places.
Legal counsel has researched ordinance in other California cities that have withstood legal challenges in a bid to put in place enforceable rules that will protect the rights of the homeless as well as the general expectations of the public to be able to use sidewalks and such for what they were intended.
The City Council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
The ordinance changes are based on the premise streets and public areas within the city should be readily accessible and available to residents and the public at large.
The new ordinance language states, “The use of these areas for camping purposes or storage of personal property interferes with the rights of others to use the areas for which they were intended. Such activity can constitute a public health and safety hazard which adversely impacts neighborhoods and commercial areas. Camping on private property without the consent of the owner, proper sanitary measures and for other than a minimal duration adversely affects private property rights as well as public health, safety, and welfare of the city. The purpose of this chapter is to maintain streets, parks and other public and private areas within the city in a clean, sanitary and accessible condition and to adequately protect the health, safety and public welfare of the community, while recognizing that, subject to reasonable conditions, camping and camp facilities associated with special events can be beneficial to the cultural and educational climate in the city. Nothing in this chapter is intended to interfere with otherwise lawful and ordinary uses of public or private property.”
Current municipal language doesn’t outlaw camping per se on sidewalks.
Among definitions in the ordinance are:
“Camp” means to place, pitch or occupy camp facilities; to live temporarily in a camp facility or outdoors; to use camp paraphernalia.
“Camp facilities” include, but are not limited to, tents, huts, vehicles, vehicle camping outfits or temporary shelter.
“Camp paraphernalia” includes, but is not limited to, bedrolls, tarpaulins, cots, beds, sleeping bags, hammocks or cooking facilities and similar equipment.
“Establish” means setting up or moving equipment, supplies or materials on to public or private property to “camp” or operate camp facilities.
“Exigent circumstances” means any emergency situation requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to the health, safety, or life of a person or serious damage to property or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or destruction of evidence.
“Maintain” means keeping or permitting equipment, supplies or materials to remain on public or private property in order to camp or operate camp facilities.
“Private property” means all private property including, but not limited to, streets, sidewalk, alleys, and improved or unimproved land.
“Public property” means all public property including, but not limited to, streets, sidewalks, alleys, improved or unimproved land and parks.
“Store” means to put aside or accumulate for use when needed, to put for safekeeping, to place or leave in a location.
“Street” means the same as defined in the California Vehicle Code.
The changes the council is considering would make it unlawful and a public nuisance for any person to camp, occupy camp facilities, or use camp paraphernalia in the following areas:
The Manteca Transit Center located at 220 Moffat Blvd.
The Moffat Community Center located at 580 Moffat Blvd.
Any public property except when the person is sitting or lying on public property between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following day.
Any private property.
It isn’t the city’s intention to prohibit overnight camping on private residential property by friends or family of the property owner, so long as the owner consents and the overnight camping is limited to not more than one consecutive night.
The police chief may issue a permit to allow camping in a motor home or trailer on public property in an R-1 District provided the health, safety or welfare of the public is not affected. The permit will be valid for a period not to exceed five consecutive days. Upon expiration of the permit issued under this section, the applicant may apply for and be granted additional temporary camping permits; if the applicant still qualifies. In no event will temporary camping permits be issued to an applicant for a period in excess of 10 days within any 90-day period.
A permit must be denied if the police chief finds that:
The applicant is not a bona fide resident of the city of Manteca.
The proposed location is not on a street adjacent to the applicant’s residence.
The out-of-town visitor is not the applicant’s guest.
Information submitted by the applicant is materially false.
The ordinance language being considered would make it unlawful and a public nuisance for any person to store personal property, including camp paraphernalia on any public property or any private property without the written consent of the owner.
Law enforcement shall not remove personal property from any public property without providing 72 hours written notice unless there are exigent circumstances. After providing written notice, any personal property removed from public property shall be stored for 90 days from the date of removal except for government-issued identification cards, which shall be stored for one year from the date of removal.
Personal property that is removed from public property can be reclaimed by contacting the telephone number listed on the written notice or appearing personally at the Manteca Police Department located at 1001 West Center St. during regular business hours.