Sidewalks — the lack thereof as well as safety issues with existing paved paths — will get more attention from the city under a reorganization of the Human Resources and Risk Management Department.
That’s because the City Council has embraced a staff proposal to expand the job duties of one employee and revamp the job description of a vacant position in the five-member department.
The changes center on focusing more attention on Americans with Disabilities Act compliance primarily with existing city sidewalks and stretches of developed areas that lack sidewalks.
Human Resources Director Joe Kriskovich noted now that a consultant has literally walked all of Manteca’s streets and provided detailed data about issues, the city needs to digest that data and put together an action plan addressing the most pressing needs first.
Kriskovich told the council earlier this month it could take two to three years to shift through the data given the volume as well as the fact both positions have other job duties.
Data gathered on sidewalks were to find deficiencies related to the latest ADA rules.
the width of sidewalks.
the grade of slopes where driveways cross sidewalks.
the grade of slopes for the transition from sidewalk to street at intersections and where there are appropriate improvements in place for the blind where it is required.
sidewalks with cracks or where concrete has been uplifted by trees that needs addressing.
missing sidewalks as well as where there is no curb and gutter but development has occurred.
The need for ADA compliance was sharpened after a flurry of nearly three dozen lawsuits was filed against Manteca merchants in recent years.
Cataloguing and prioritizing ADA deficiencies is only part of the city’s sidewalk problem.
Back in 2008 the city had a four-man crew as part of the streets division that did nothing but address concrete issues involving sidewalk issues, curbs, and gutters. When budget cuts triggered by the Great Recession prompted the city to slash the streets division manpower in half from 16 positions, the dedicated concrete crew was eliminated.
Now the city addresses the most dangerous issues — as well as remove trees were severe lifting of sidewalks caused by roots to close to the surface have occurred — when they can squeeze the work in. Manteca has lost essentially nine years of work when it comes to tackling sidewalk safety.
The council at least three times in the past 15 years has tried to tackle the issue of missing sidewalks. Money has been budgeted but when the city was unable to get around to the work, the funds where put toward other projects in subsequent budgets.
In one case, the long-promised sidewalks on Cottage Avenue where it is missing south of Yosemite Avenue were funded but then that money was shifted to put in place sidewalks along Commerce Court’s northern side when the Social Security office was relocated. The decision meant anyone traveling to the Social Security office on foot or in a wheelchair would not have to travel in the street.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com