Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Thanks for another editorial about the downtown district, and the current albatross around it’s neck, the burned out Sycamore Arms. I find the story of this particular building emblematic of a larger problem that I see as the ineffectiveness and incompetence of our city government in general. For me, the situation also raises certain questions.
For instance, why was the original owner allowed to have no fire insurance on a property that could, when it burned, easily have taken another building or two with it? Did the owner carry insurance of any kind when the building was occupied by tenants? If not, why did the city not require the owner to do so? Property ownership carries with it certain responsibilities and liabilities, as every home owner knows. Are business property owners in Manteca given a pass on the same requirements that homeowners are held to? Is the current owner of the property also uninsured?
Who paid for the initial response by the fire department? The taxpayers? And who has paid for the numerous responses by police to this property since the fire? I’ll bet it’s the taxpayers, once again. If a homeowner’s burglar alarm goes off repeatedly, the police department fines the homeowner for wasting their time. Why are business property owners not held to a similar standard? When the cost to the taxpayers of the property owner’s negligence reaches a certain point, the city should take the property.
According to the Bulletin, the original owner sold the property to a man here in town, the same person who was in violation of the law by installing shards of glass on top of the wall beside the building. Why were neither of the parties required, when money was changing hands, to pay for the fire department response, the constant responses by the police, or be required to raze or restore the structure which had become an eyesore and a public nuisance? Will the burned out shell be allowed to exist forever in it’s current state, or until tweekers burn again?
And why is the new owner allowed to leave the building unsecured, so that tweekers, addicts, criminals and bums (I refuse to refer to them as ‘homeless’) can occupy it at will and use it as their command center to break into nearby businesses, as described in Glenn Kahl’s article about the theft from The Baby Nutrition Store on Monday?
It is incomprehensible to me that City Hall can spend a fortune on consultant’s fees to solve the seemingly never ending problem of the ‘bulb-outs’ on Main Street, while at the same time doing nothing about the burned out building right down the street. Apparently, they believe that if they ignore it that it will just go away.
I think that it’s the responsibility of the Mayor and the City Council to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. If they can’t work on a new freeway exchange, a family fun center, a water park deal, and at the same time fix the pot holes and deal with a burned out building in the heart of downtown, then in my estimation they are failing at their jobs.
The ridiculously extravagant golden parachute that the last city manager received after a mere few weeks on the job would have been more than enough to remove the Sycamore Arms from the to-do list once and for all and fill a few potholes as well. Whomever approved her contract should be sent down the same road that she was. I find it disturbing that we seem to have city officials dragging down similar salaries who are unable to perform their duties any better than she did.
I hope that you will continue reporting on this problem which seems to have no solution in sight, thanks in large part to our city government officials who obviously have bigger fish to fry.