The area behind a shuttered taqueria undergoing renovations has turned into a magnet for homeless and vagrants that are impacting adjacent businesses and creating a potential health problem by filling open buckets with urine and feces.
The homeless encampment in the 600 block of West Yosemite just west of downtown has been creating a problem for the past several months. Adjacent business owner Janice Ward of The Hair Company indicated in order for customers not to be scared away from late afternoon appointments her staff has been forced to escort clients to and from their vehicles.
Ward said her repeated calls for city to enforce municipal ordinances that are supposed to prevent such a homeless camp from taking hold have fallen on deaf ears. And that includes repeated complaints entered through the city’s Internet-based government outreach.
Besides customers worrying about their safety, homeless and/or vagrants go to the bathroom in the alley, use drugs in plain sight of the business, and trash the surrounding neighborhood.
The homeless have placed cardboard and mattresses behind the taqueria near the rear of their shop. They are next to a full-sized shipping container that was used in the renovation of a taqueria next door. Boards knocked out of an alley fence have allowed the homeless to enter the area where a large motor home is also parked so they can bed down for the night.
“They go to the bathroom in the middle of the day in the alley – dropping their pants in plain sight – apparently not caring if anybody is around and shooting up with drugs,” Ward’s daughter Kim said.
Stylist Rod Kaady who has been with the six-station salon for six years said things are getting worse and not better when it comes to homeless in Manteca impacting the lives of the city’s other 75,000 residents
Kaady said one homeless man entered the shopat one point and distracted employees while another broke the into a customer’s car parked outside and stole valuables from the vehicle.
He also told of a number of large buckets on the property next to their building filled with urine and feces.
Kim Ward, working as the receptionist in her mother’s salon, said her car has been broken into during the day along with several of their customers.
“I never thought we would be coming to work in the mornings having to clean up human feces in our parking lot,” Kim said.
Ironically, The Hair Salon was hit the hardest by lawsuits filed by Sacramento area attorney Scott Johnson who swept through Manteca and Ripon more than three years ago in search of minor infractions of the American with Disabilities Act that he could parlay into damage awards.
Besides paying a settlement to Johnson, The Hair salon added a ramp, and one parking space, and also upgraded the bathroom to make it meet with state code requirements. None of their clients — including those who are handicapped — ever expressed any concerns. In fact, her handicapped customers came to her defense noting Ward and the stylists went out of their way to accommodate their needs.
“There’s got to be something that can be done (about the homeless) – we keep asking for help from the city – but nothing ever happens,” Janice Ward said.
Ward noted the homeless in an around downtown has hurt attendance at the summer farmers market at nearby Library Park prompting the Manteca Chamber of Commerce to consider moving it in 2018 to another location.
Ward said she lives in Tracy and has not seen the homeless problem to the degree that she witnesses in Manteca.
“I went to San Francisco over the weekend and the places there I expected to be the worse weren’t like we are experiencing right next door,” she said.
Ward said two water faucets outside their salon near the back of the building are continually used by the homeless. She doesn’t have a problem with them using the faucets. The issue stems from those using the faucets not turning the water off and flooding the parking lot. If the water is left on Saturday, it is not discovered until Monday at 8 a.m. when employees arrive.
“It doesn’t seem that anyone cares about the merchants,” Ward said. “Our cries for help (are) going unanswered.”
Ward added that a recycling center located on nearby Jessie Street draws many of the vagrants to the area turning in their empty cans and bottles. They then gravitate to makeshift homeless encampment next door.
The adjacent orange colored taqueria building next door closed due to plumbing problems and was closed again by the city when work was started without a permit, according to a City of Manteca spokesman.
The city indicated the owners recently took out a permit to start work to bring the building up to code in a bid to open again for business sometime soon.
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