Board imposes fines of up to $1,000 for junk
The Board of Supervisors adopted a new code enforcement fine schedule at its Tuesday, Sept. 12 meeting. The vote was 4-0, with Supervisor Jim Chapman absent. Chapman voted no without comment when the board introduced the new law at its Aug. 22 meeting.
Ordinance 566 authorizes building inspectors to impose fines of up to $1,000 a day in administrative citations and fines for violations of county codes that prohibit junk piles on private property or letting buildings deteriorate into a dangerous and unsafe condition.
The new law takes effect on Thursday Oct. 12.
“The price of the first will be $100,” Code Enforcement Officer Lewis Dean told the board in May when the new law was originally proposed. “For a second citation within a 12-month period for the same violation, the fine is $500, and the third and subsequent citation for failure to abate the violation is $1,000. And each day can be a new citation.”
On Thursday, Sept. 14, Dean said the new law will give code enforcement another tool to help with ongoing cases of code violations.
“When it takes effect it will mean that we have another tool to work with to get compliance,” he said. “We will continue our enforcement efforts no matter what.”
Currently, county officials rely on voluntary compliance with requests to clean up junk or fix dangerous buildings. When the property owner fails to correct the problem after numerous inspections and letters asking for compliance, county staff brings the issue to the board.
When the citation idea was first discussed in May, Community Development Director Bob Sorvaag said his staff also asks the district attorney to bring criminal charges against violators or asks the county counsel to file a civil case. However, Sorvaag’s staff report said “The courts were not receptive to prosecuting misdemeanor citations for county code violations.”
The new process will start with the public health officer or code enforcement officer investigating complaints or reports of code violations.
Dean told the board he will determine if there is a violation and send a certified letter to the property owner setting a specified deadline to correct the violation, “which is pretty much what we do now.” The letter will warn the property owner he is subject to fines if the property is not cleaned up or fixed.
After the deadline passes the officer will inspect the property and if it’s not cleaned up, the officer may issue an administrative citation and subsequent citations as necessary.
For the full story, see the Sept. 19 Lassen County Times.
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