When worshippers step out of the Church of Christ in the 600 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Central Manteca the view they have is far from pastoral.
There are numerous piles of rubble across the street from houses that were razed by a developer months ago to make way for a townhouse project.
The rubble — piles of concrete, trunks and limbs of knocked down trees — are a clear violation of the municipal weed and rubble abatement enforcement now underway through mid-April under the auspices of the Manteca Fire Department.
The mess had been closed off by a rented cyclone fence. That’s no longer the case. Since the fence is gone and rubble is still piled on the land, the much cited “broken window” theory is in full swing.
Others are adding to the mix by dumping off garbage and furniture. Making matters marginally worse they are simply dropping them on the sidewalk that the city put in place in the mid-1990s as part of an effort to put in safe passages for the large number of children from nearby multi-family units and homes that walk along Lincoln Avenue to reach — and return — from Shasta Elementary School.
On Wednesday afternoon two young boys on their way home from school were forced to step into the street because three couches and a dishwasher were blocking the sidewalk.
City Manager Tim Ogden promised Wednesday that the city would address the matter.
If it is determined to be a health and safety issue and the property owner doesn’t take steps to abate the property the city would do the work itself and then go after the owner to recoup the costs.
Ogden noted the city had been keeping tabs on the property but noted “we obviously haven’t been on top of it.”
Nearby neighbors said they have seen children playing in the rubble that is visible not just from Lincoln Avenue but also from Bank of Stockton and the Magnolia Court low-income senior apartments that the Manteca Redevelopment Agency helped partner to build.
The 600 block of North Lincoln Avenue is fairly familiar to the Manteca Fire Department.
Before the shuttered homes were torn down they responded to several fires started by the homeless to either keep warm or to cook. One fire threatened nearby homes while another required the rescuing of homeless individuals that had crawled out onto a porch roof to escape flames and smoke.
The razing of the shuttered homes did eliminate some healthy and safety concerns that plagued the neighborhood primarily by the homeless and drug users that were using the structures as flop houses and used parts of the area as an outdoor bathroom.
The dumping of garbage in recent days — that some neighbors said they have picked up some of it — is raising concerns that it could attract rodents.
The property owner had removed some of the debris including furniture and appliances that people were driving by and dumping before the fence went up and the homes were torn down.
Firefighters are currently canvassing the city to cite violators of the municipal weed and property abatement rules.
Those in violation for the first time face $100 fines, Repeat offenders (back to back years) are slapped with $200 fines. Then if property that is cited isn’t abated by a set date, the city has the work done and places a lien against the property owners.
If you have questions about the Weed Abatement Program or would like to report a property that isn’t being maintained, call the Fire Prevention Bureau at (209) 456.8340.
Specifically, the following standards apply within Manteca’s city limits:
uProperty of 1/2 acre or more: Mow all vegetation to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches in height. Remove all grass, weeds or debris from the property. Disc or till the entire property. (In the process of abating property, keep dust production to a minimum to ensure compliance with Manteca Municipal Code Section 8.17 - Prevention of airborne sand, soil or dust traveling to neighboring properties in visible amounts.)
uProperty of 1/2 acre or less: Mow all vegetation to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches in height. Rake and remove all dry grass.
uTrees and shrubs: All dead trees, shrubs and bushes must be cut down and removed from the property. Prunings must also be removed from the property.
uAlleys: Mow all grass and/or weeds to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches in height. Fence lines must be clean and free of weeds. Any and all combustibles must be removed. This includes, but is not limited to trash, rubbish, dry grass, prunings, clippings, auto parts and furniture. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of the alley from the property line to the center of the alley.
uAll properties: All weeds, rubbish, excess dirt, trash, dry vegetation, discarded furniture, appliances, garbage, auto parts or other material which constitutes a public nuisance, must be abated from the property fence line to fence line.
For abatement of inoperable and/ or abandoned vehicles contact the Code Enforcement Officer at 456.-8156.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com