LAUREL TO THE CITY OF MANTECA for finally installing concertina wire on top of the fencing surrounding the air conditioning unit at the Manteca Veterans Center at 580 Moffat Boulevard.
It delivers on a promise made by former City Manager Karen McLaughlin to protect the $10,000 plus unit from copper thieves and other vandals so the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 wouldn’t be faced with trying to raise funds to replace a $10,000 unit. While 15 months is a tad too long of a time to be called nimble, at least the city has taken a proactive step to protect taxpayers’ investments against the dregs of society.
While not all the copper thieves are homeless, more than a few tend to be.
The state of being homeless is not against the law but some of the things they do that go to support drug or drinking habits — a large number of homeless receive disability checks, general assistance and/or food — are destructive and costly.
Manteca wasted no time in spending $30,000 to make the Manteca Transit trash enclosure secure from vandals after an attempt was made to break in to try and rip wiring from expensive equipment controlling solar energy panels on the shade structures over the transit parking spaces.
And in 2013 after spending $80,000 replacing copper wiring stripped from city street lights Manteca required all new street lights to have access points buried beneath concrete and even started retrofitting older street lights in such a manner. It has reduced the amount of street lights going dark due to copper theft. It also has proven more cost effective to break apart concrete when street light wiring has to be repaired for other reasons and then cementing it over again than repairing damage caused by copper thieves.
The latest move against wanton destruction by the homeless was securing the Manteca Library courtyard with wrought iron fencing. It has stopped the homeless from sleeping in the courtyard as well as breaking lighting so they can sleep, slicing into wiring to charge their phones, defecating, trashing the place, and creating public safety damage. Given the city was spending close to $2,000 every few months to repair the damage, the $6,000 plus fencing will pay for itself in about six months.
Manteca needs to do whatever it legally can to protect the community from wanton acts of destruction by the homeless and other vandals. That said it would be nice if they tried to do so in a timely manner.
DART TO THE CITY OF MANTECA for not being more aggressive when it comes to code enforcement.
Examples could easily fill the page, but we’ll concentrate on two glaring cases.
The first is a Dodge Ram pickup that was torched on Moffat Boulevard and left parked near Eckert’s Cold Storage. While Manteca Police did tag the vehicle saying it must be removed by Aug. 1 (today) or it will be towed, let’s be serious.
The vehicle was more than likely stolen. The owner probably has no idea it is there.
Now let’s talk about public safety issues. The passenger door is open partially blocking the sidewalk. The inside is completely gutted. It also speaks volumes about city standards.
This is not a vehicle that has been parked too long. It should have been towed the day it was found parked on a busy city street. If Manteca Police do not have authority in such situations to move torched vehicles left on city streets in an immediate fashion, the City Council needs to direct staff to find a way so that it can happen.
A few blocks away you can find an even more egregious example of blight near the heart of Manteca in the 200 block of East Yosemite Avenue. It is a vacant small office structure for a used car lot that Manteca Fire officials believe homeless were responsible for torching three times so far. The plywood boarding up access points has been removed and guess what folks are illegally living inside once again?
It gets worse. Towering weeds surround the house as well as the parking strip in the 100 block of South Lincoln Avenue. There is more than a liberal sprinkling of trash in the weeds as well as nearby graffiti. Bet that is appealing to customers of the businesses across the street as well as residents of well-kept yards and homes just down the block.
It sends a clear message to first-time visitors to downtown Manteca as well as those that might be considering opening a business there. Let’s be clear that message doesn’t say Manteca is open for business unless one considers festering blight as a plus for commerce and quality of life.
Here’s a radical suggestion. The City Council might want to tap into its precious 25 percent general fund reserve and commit $200,000 to hire at least two more code enforcement officers and provide ample funding needed to proactively and aggressively go after blight in Manteca.
An ounce of prevention is much cheaper than a pound of cure.
And that would still leave the city with nearly a 23 percent reserve.