With all due respect, what is the point of modifying the Manteca municipal sign ordinance when it comes to temporary signs, A-frame signs, flag banner signs, and human signs?
I’ll be the first to tell you it has gotten out of control. Not only are A-frames and flag banners sometimes placed where they create safety hazards by blocking views for motorists trying to enter streets from parking lots or impede the free and safe movements of pedestrians but they are beyond overkill in some instances.
At one point a hair-cutting business on Spreckels Avenue last year had no less than a dozen temporary signs planted along the street.
The real issue isn’t drafting and adopting rules. It is enforcement, pure and simple.
The existing sign ordinance hasn’t been enforced except of course via the rat fink system. That’s where usually a competitor or someone that doesn’t like a particular merchant lodges a complaint with the city. Other than that, it has been anything goes in Manteca since at least 1991.
It is still the policy of the city to enforce much of its municipal code pertaining to property maintenance by complaint only.
The last time they made a whole-hearted effort to enforce a segment of the code they blanketed the city with warnings and then issued citations to everyone violating the rules. It was done with the placement of Toters and folks who violated city rules by keeping them in plain view of the street usually in front of their garages beyond simply the day of collection.
The city actually dedicated staff time as well as enlisted the Manteca SHARP volunteers to distribute warnings to violators.
The rules the ad hoc committee has come up with regarding temporary signs are reasonable enough. But drive down just North Main Street and you can get writers’ cramp compiling a list of violations. And that’s not counting violations of existing segments of the sign ordinance such as posting signs on telephone poles and street lights.
If manpower is the issue, then why adopt any changes? One could make a solid argument that there are more pressing property maintenance issues that need to be addressed such as people turning their yards into de facto dumps.
And if the reason the city is putting rules in place is to simply save their bacon should someone get injured on a public right of way because of a sign’s placement then that is completely lame especially if they don’t plan to aggressively enforce the rules.
The city needs to abate serious hazards to public safety and not simply put rules on the books to protect them in court after someone is maimed or killed.
If the City Council ultimately adopts the proposed changes they will be perpetuating a farce unless they do one additional thing - appoint an ad hoc committee to come up with a game plan for the city to actually enforce the sign rules they have on the books and then implement the plan.
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.