The rich and powerful.
They do get special treatment.
If you doubt that, drive down Moffat Boulevard.
Just west of Powers Avenue along the railroad tracks you will find three illegal signs. There used to be four.
The three illegal signs are owned by CBS. They are billboards. Since 23007, the corporation has willfully ignored a binding legal contract with the city that gave Manteca an option to have the billboard removed by giving them the mutually agreed upon 30 days.
The fourth illegal sign was owned by a struggling businessman trying to scratch out a living making handmade outdoor furniture.
The city told him in November to get rid of the sign or else he would have to pay more than $250 in fines.
The businessman, who is having tough times making ends meet and feeding his family, couldn’t afford $250. So the sign came down,
Not so with CBS. They grossed $3.42 billion last year. They chose to ignore a contract because they didn’t want to honor it. And if the city moved to enforce it, they threatened to sue.
Now, city leaders can give you all the excuses they want.
The simple fact is if you are big enough and have the means to sue, the city won’t enforce the law.
But if you’re the little guy just barely making a living, watch out.
The city also holds itself to different standards which are much lower than the ones they impose on small businesses.
That little guy on Moffat could have kept his sign if he paid $250 and assured the city that it met safe engineering standards so it wouldn’t fall on someone. That, of course, means hiring an engineer and submitting plans. The sign was attached to a building.
Drive down Moffat toward Spreckels Avenue.
You are going to find a 20-foot plus tall sign that is not attached to a building. It is falling apart. And rest assured there are no engineering plans on file at City Hall attesting to whether it was engineered properly and is therefore safe.
The sign sits on city property. It is the Manteca Chamber of Commerce welcome sign that looks as if it saw better days during the Nixon Administration.
No one is telling the city to take the sign down or provide engineering drawings. Gee, I forgot. It is part of the city’s hybrid code enforcement policy: Do as we say, not as we do.
Let’s recount the lame excuses you’ll hear.
The city is short-handed and can’t afford to take down the chamber sign.
But it doesn’t matter if a small business is short-handed and can’t afford to comply with city sign requirements.
We can’t force CBS to honor the contract they signed with the city because they said they’re going to sue.
If you have an illegal sign and the city is coming to tear it out, see how effective the line “I’m going to sue you to the moon and back” works for you.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.