There is a state law against urination and defecation in public.
But when violators are caught in Manteca — primarily homeless vagrants — rarely are they prosecuted.
And although Police Chief Nick Obligacion doesn’t like the situation, he understands why the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office would pass on taking someone charged with public urination or defecation to court.
“The DA has limited resources,” Obligacion said earlier this month. “If they have an armed robbery suspect, a burglary case, and a public urination case but can’t prosecute all three (due to staff limitations) the public would expect as I would that they prosecute the more serious crimes.”
Obligacion, who has been tapped by the Manteca City Council to devise strategies to combat homeless problems, also understands the frustrations and public health concerns of merchants and residents alike that deal with homeless vagrants urinating against buildings and fences and defecating in alleys and even sometimes in downtown doorways.
It is why on Tuesday the police chief is asking the council to adopt a city ordinance essentially duplicating the state law. By having a municipal law it would allow the city attorney’s office to prosecute such offenses as a misdemeanor. All criminal complaints involving state laws go through the district attorney’s office.
The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
If the council adopts the proposed ordinance on Tuesday and approved a second reading on Nov. 4, the prohibition would go into effect on Dec. 4.
A public place is defined as an area generally visible to public view. It includes streets, sidewalks, bridges, alleys, plazas, parks, driveways, parking lots, automobiles (whether moving or not) and buildings open to the general public. That includes those concerns serving food or drink or providing entertainment as well as the doorways and entrances to those buildings or dwellings and associated grounds.
The only public place where urination or defecation can take place is in a restroom.
There was an uptick in public defecation and urination complaints when the city temporarily closed the public restrooms at Library Park.
That was in response not just to the homeless congregating in the park but also with city workers on almost on a daily basis coming across needles in the restrooms.
Obligacion is coordinating a homeless summit on Wednesday, Oct, 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Center, Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street. Citizens will be able to share their concerns and ideas regarding the homeless from 9 a.m. to noon during an open microphone session. Then from 1 to 4 p.m. representatives of groups interested in providing services to the homeless of wanting to help address the problems will gather to discuss possible solutions.