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Weed cops hit the streets May 15
This house on Alameda Street is a prime candidate to get a ticket for weeds when Manteca firefighters hit the streets May 15 searching for property that is not complying with city maintenance rules. - photo by HIME ROMERO
You’ve been warned. Manteca’s weed cops hit the streets on May 15.

The nine-day warning gives you time to avoid getting a citation for everything from weeds and rubbish to excessive dirt those firefighters can see in your yard from riding on a fire truck.

Firefighters issued 1,272 citations in 2008 down from 1,093 citations in 2007. Of those issued, almost all were cleared by the residents of the property cleaning up the mess and having it re-inspected. A handful of properties had the city take abatement actions against them with the cost of the clean-up and associated fines are recovered by the city by placing a lien on the property.

Preventing grass fires is a high priority with the department. It has had few buildings destroyed by fires started in dry grass and rubbish.

Even so, the last fire death in Manteca was eight years ago when a grass fire at the Highway 120 Bypass and Highway 99 interchange created heavy smoke. In the confusion, a motorist left the roadway and drove into the middle of the burning field where his wife, who was unable to get out of the vehicle, died.

Firefighters are expected to take several weeks to canvas all property in the city.

Dry vegetation - whether it is in a pile or still standing in the ground - constitutes a fire hazard.

The city averages less than 100 grass fire calls a year. Most of those, though, are along Highway 99 and Highway 120 where the fire prevention staff has no jurisdiction in issuing citations for weed abatement.

Citations will be issued to any and all property owners maintaining fire or nuisance hazards on any property within the city limits. After notification, if the fire hazard or nuisance isn’t promptly abated, the property owner will be required to appear in court. In worse case scenarios, the city will go ahead and abate the problem and then place a lien against the property.

Only a handful ends up with the city hiring a contractor to abate the problem. The court grants the city liens against the property when that occurs to recoup its costs.

The abatement program includes, but is not limited to, weeds, rubbish, trash, dead trees, vegetation and other materials which constitute a public nuisance.

The following standards apply to Manteca property:

• Vegetation on parcels a half acre or larger must be mowed to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches in height with all grass, weeds, and debris removed from the property. The parcel must then be disked or plowed.

•Parcels less than an acre also must have vegetation mowed to a maximum of 4 to 6 inches.

•All dry grass must be raked and removed.

•Alleys must have vegetation mowed to the 4 to 6 inch height; fence lines must be clean and free of weeds. All combustibles must be removed such as dry grass, prunings, clippings, auto parts and furniture.

•All properties must have weeds, rubbish, excessive dirt, dry vegetation, discarded furniture, garbage, appliances, auto parts, or other material constituting a public nuisance removed.

If you have questions, contact the Fire Prevention Division at 239-8446 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For abatement of inoperable or abandoned vehicles call the code enforcement officer at 825-2590.