The city of Manteca, California is taking steps to address growing issues with loitering and trespassing on private properties such as shopping centers, gas stations, and vacant lots.
The Manteca City Council is considering amending the municipal code to give police more power to tackle this problem that is negatively impacting businesses and residents.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit loitering and trespassing on private properties where owners have posted special signs purchased from the city for $30 each. The signs would cite the relevant code section and serve as notification that loitering and trespassing are not allowed.
With the new rule in place, police officers would have clear authority to ask loiterers to move on or cite them if they refuse to comply.
This would complement the existing anti-camping law which requires private property owners to file letters with the police department to report issues and give them permission to enforce against unauthorized camping on their land.
Police Chief Notes Growing Complaints
In a report to the City Council, Manteca Police Chief Steve Schluer said the department has seen an increase in both observed incidents and complaints from businesses and property owners related to loitering and trespassing.
He said the problems often occur near busy shopping centers, gas stations, convenience stores and vacant properties where individuals loiter to panhandle, use drugs or alcohol openly, block entrances and exits, or vandalize.
Chief Schluer stated these activities are disrupting business operations, discouraging customers from entering stores, and compromising the safety and welfare of residents and customers.
New Tool Will Strengthen Police Authority
Under the proposed amendment, the required property signage will give Manteca police clear jurisdiction to order loiterers to move along or face citations if they refuse.
This approach mirrors ordinances enacted in Lodi and Stockton which have successfully given officers in those cities more power to address loitering on private property.
The Manteca Police Department currently uses Trespass Arrest Authorization forms under California law that require each property owner to give written consent for officers to take action against trespassers.
The new ordinance will provide an additional tool allowing police to crack down on loitering and trespassing with posted notifications, without needing individual letters from each owner.
Ongoing Issue Expected to Worsen
Loitering and trespassing has been a consistent problem around the city according to Police Chief Schluer, often involving people panhandling, publicly intoxicated, or looking for places to sleep near businesses.
With Manteca’s homeless population continuing to grow and putting further strain on local resources, officials expect the issues to increase if not adequately addressed. The proposed ordinance gives police more ability to curb the negative impacts of loitering and trespassing.
The Manteca City Council was scheduled to vote on adopting the ordinance amendment at their meeting on February 7, 2023.
If approved as expected, the new rule will take effect immediately, giving property owners a way to allow police to take action while providing a warning to potential violators.