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In defense of code enforcement
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

After reading the latest ‘fence wars’ article on the front page and above the fold of the Bulletin the other day, and Tuesday’s letter to the editor ‘Don’t take city’s word for anything’, it would seem that the city has no requirements or codes regarding fencing or anything else, and just makes up the rules as it goes along for the sole purpose of frustrating residents and property owners, and that the Code Enforcement Division employees all have horns and long pointed tails. The Bulletin apparently ascribes to this belief, and that the powers that be at City Hall are in league with the devils at Code Enforcement and are all too ready to pounce upon innocent, unsuspecting citizens in an effort to make their lives miserable, and to fill the city’s coffers with its residents’ hard earned money levied in fines.

Personally, I don’t know why anyone would undertake a large project on their property or their home without checking with the city first, just in case it might come back to bite them later on. The information that could save them a lot of grief and money is not shrouded in mystery, and they don’t need to know a secret handshake to get it. They only have to pay a visit to the City of Manteca Community Development Department in the Civic Center, where some very nice people will hand them a copy of the codes and requirements that relate to their planned project and answer their questions, all for free. Anyone who skips this step deserves what they get. I think that some folks feel that it’s their property and they will do with it what they want, and it isn’t the city’s or anyone else’s business. Then when they get busted, they cry to high heaven and call the Bulletin to defend them from the over-reaching dictators at City Hall.

I for one am glad that the city and the Code Enforcement Division enforce the rules that are on the books. For the majority of us, our home is our biggest investment. If you live in a court or on a small street, all it takes is one homeowner or careless renter to trash their property and bring down the value of your home and the homes of all of your neighbors. Anyone who doubts this need only drive 20 minutes in either direction through the crummy neighborhoods of Stockton or Modesto and ask themselves if they would want to live or invest in property there.

One way that the city could help alleviate some of the apparent ‘confusion’ would be to require a permit to build, move, or modify a fence. It you need a permit to have a $500 water heater installed, why would you not need a permit to build a $5,000 fence? I’m assuming that most folks have a contractor build or replace a fence. If the contractor is too lazy to learn what the codes are or to obtain a permit, then the onus and liability is upon them to make it right and pay the fines. I would even go a step further and make homeowners who have side stepped the process and gotten away with it bring the property up to code upon its sale.

As with everything else, including the water wasters and red light/stop sign runners mentioned recently in the Bulletin, the majority of people abide by the rules that are in place to benefit all of us, but there is always a small and surprisingly vocal minority who feel that the rules apply to everyone but them, and that they are being treated unfairly. I for one disagree.


Thank you,


Stephen Breacain