What’s bigger than a bread box, can’t legally weigh more than 73,000 pounds, usually has 18 wheels and can park anywhere they wish in Manteca?
The answer is the official sacred cow of Manteca — semi-trucks.
If you doubt that take a spin around Manteca. On Sunday afternoon there were six trucks parked on the south side of the 120 Bypass/Main Street interchange, one further south along Main Street, the usual culprits on Moffat near Cowell Avenue, assorted semis in the dirt along Moffat between Woodward Avenue Austin Road, two along Airport Way, and other assorted locations where other solitary trucks were parked nowhere near a destination for deliveries and/or pickups.
Do not misunderstand the point. Our economy can’t function or survive without trucks. They are key to Manteca’s economic health. That said we also can’t function without dumping raw sewage someplace. Getting rid of wastewater is vital for our health and survival yet unlike trucks that apparently have the city’s blessing to park where ever they please we can’t simply dump our raw sewage where we want even though we could avoid the City of Manteca’s $43.30 monthly sewer charge if we opted not to play by the rules and avoid the legal requirement to connect to the system.
As surprising as it may sound, one can not simply park a semi-truck where they wish under city ordinances although you’d be hard pressed to tell that on any typical day in Manteca. Of course the immediate one-size-first-all cop out is the city only enforces its municipal code if it is compliant driven. We know this is a bald face lie as the city at the council’s direction makes exceptions all the time. Have you ever gotten a warning or a citation for weed abatement? Guess what? Weed abatement is part of Manteca’s municipal code.
Yet when this City Council — or any city council since at least 1995 pushes the issue on proactive enforcement of another section of the code — the staff dutifully reminds our elected leaders that the city only enforces code violations by complaints as they lack the manpower (or stomach) to do otherwise.
Making the city’s default policy of “see no evil that has been codified as evil” when it serves their purposes more irksome is the fact the vast majority of truckers follow the rules.
Do you think there are only three dozen or so — the maximum number of illegally parked trucks noted on any given day where the driver is clearly at home and not working — truck drivers whether they’re independent or work for a carrier or firm without a terminal or physical location in Manteca?
The city requires trucking firms and distribution centers to provide adequate truck parking space for obvious reasons.
As for independent truckers or those working for long haul firms or concerns without a local presence, there are these modern inventions called truck yards.
The city may have heard of them. They approved three — a 99-space lot at industrial Park Drive and Carnegie that has yet to be built, a 168-space lot at CenterPoint off of Airport Way near Road and a 486-space lot just south of there that hasn’t been built.
To jar the city’s memory the 486-lot is the one that riled 800 to 1,000 residents in the nearby Del Webb at Woodbridge due to how the city originally planned to allow the facility to be accessed.
Then there is the 121-space truck parking facility the Lathrop Planning Commission has approved near the 120 Bypass/Yosemite Avenue interchange.
Besides those there are a number of people in the countryside just outside of Manteca that will rent parking space to truckers for around $100 a month.
Unlike commercial truck parking lots that are lighted, paved, fenced, and have security that can cost in excess of $200 a month to rent a space, the small rural enterprises that allow one to 10 trucks usually charge $100 a month.
There are clearly options.
So why is restricting truck parking a big civic concern?
They can cause safety issues obstructing sight lines for motorists and pedestrians, the occasional refrigerated units that are loaded and parked overnight near homes in town aren’t exactly lullaby music if you sleep with your windows open, they wear down city streets that Manteca is struggling to keep in decent repair than compared to a typical car, and they are visual blight.
Nothing says welcome to “The Truck City” better than having six trucks parked along the street near the 120 Bypass and Main Street interchange as was the case on Sunday.
You will notice two nearby cities with a lot more truck traffic as well as more distribution centers — Tracy and Lathrop — do not allow truck parking around major interchanges.
That said you will from time-to-time see big rigs in the early morning hours pulled over along onramps so they don’t violate federal truck driving regulations. It is clear the federal government needs to provide more rest stops for truck parking along freeways if they want the limited driving rule enforced without creating other issues. Do not, however, confuse trucks pulled over due to federal restrictions regarding how many hours they can be on the road to what Manteca is allowing to happen on its streets.
Tracy and Manteca are comparable in size and within 10,000 of each other in population. Drive around the major corridors in Tracy that are away from business parks and try to find a replicate of what is happening in Manteca. Tracy is not flush with excess money nor does it have municipal staff stumbling over each other trying to find work to do.