Manteca Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd has no desire to have face time on TV as his counterpart in Colorado Springs did earlier this week after fire destroyed 20 townhouses.
With unusually heavy March rains being followed with temperatures heading into the mid-80s after unseasonably cool weather, conditions are ripe for a bumper crop of weeds in Manteca.
Starting this Monday when Manteca fire engine companies aren’t responding to service calls, they will be cruising city streets searching for violators of the municipal law that prohibits weeds from being allowed to be higher than 4 to 6 inches among other restrictions.
Any violations that firefighters see from their engines driving streets or alleys will result in citations. The entire city is expected to be inspected by April 14. Typically firefighters issue between 700 and 1,000 citations a year for weed abatement.
Rules that went into effect in 2010 were inspired in part by habitual offenders. At the time there were about 400 property owners who year in and year were repeat offenders. A municipal ordinance imposes a $200 fine for repeat offenders who fail to abate weeds in a timely manner for two years in a row. That figure doesn’t quite cover the costs the city incurs trying to get compliance with the weed rules.
The fine for the first infraction is $100.
Those that fail to comply with abatement orders by June will not only face fines but the city will hire a contractor to do the work and place a lien against their property.
If you think Manteca is immune from disastrous grass fires because it is not on hilly terrain with a lot of vegetation as the Sierra foothills or communities along the coast guess again.
On June 11 of 2008 a fire that started in dry weeds along Interstate 5 in Stockton was whipped by winds that carried the flames into a nearby Quail Lakes neighborhood destroying 33 homes.
The last fire death in a Manteca was a direct result of a grass fire. It was in 2001 when a grass fire at the 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.
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.
The fire hazard abatement rules apply to more than just weeds. It also includes rubbish, dirt, trash, grass, dead trees, vegetation or other materials which constitute a public nuisance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org