City looks to add code enforcement officer to help ‘beautify’ town

The city of Susanville is looking to add a code enforcement officer position to the staff in an attempt to beautify the town; however, some on the city council questioned how they would pay for the new position.

Ultimately, the council approved the position list, with the addition of a code enforcement officer in a 4-1 vote during the Wednesday, Nov. 4 meeting.

“We’ve spoken in the past about, frankly, a method in which we can beautify … our community through education, but also through enforcement,” said City Administrator/ Chief of Police Kevin Jones. “The best way to do that is with a code enforcement officer.”

If hired, the code enforcement officer’s responsibilities would be the enforcement of, but not limited to; vehicles for hire, Uptown Historic Susanville improvement area, business license compliance, use permit compliance, weed and rubbish abatement, administrative nuisance abatement and property maintenance compliance, according the staff report. The code enforcement officer will be required to attain Basic Arrest and Control powers, pursuant to 832 C.P.C., to have the ability to issue citations for California Codes.

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“This position will work with all of our city departments, every city department will touch this position,” added Jones. “I don’t know any department in our city that this position will not work with. It’s going to be a very, very diverse, and a very busy position.”

Jones also discussed the code enforcement officer’s role.

“The primary purpose of this position is to work with our residents, our businesses for the beautification of our community. It’s the intent of this position to assist in the economic growth of our community,” said Jones.

Jones did add the new position would “ruffle some feathers.”

“There’s going to be some people who are not happy,” said Jones, “but, again, the goal isn’t true enforcement, the goal is to make Main Street look, at least as similar to we can get it from years ago, minus the businesses.”

Some on the city council, though, were concerned how the position would be funded. According to Jones,                   the position would be fully benefited, with an estimated salary between $55,000 and $80,000 annually, less for the remainder of this fiscal year.

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Councilmember Kevin Stafford inquired how the city would pay for it.

“This is a great position … but we need to figure out a way to pay for it,” said Stafford.

“What I’m looking to you, is just to say that this is fiscally responsible of us to hire this person,” said councilmember Quincy McCourt.

Jones said he was working on ideas to fund the position, which still has to be flown and no one has been hired yet. He said the position could be reevaluated again based on the city’s financial situation.

Moreover, he later added there was still some CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) funding left over, with more potentially on the way, which could help fund the position.

“I can guarantee funding for six months not out of the general fund,” he ultimately told the board.

Additional discussion focused on the plans and potential for the role.

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Mayor Mendy Schuster said this position would be great to use the information compiled in the 2017 property maintenance ordinance.

“It’s full of really, really good information … but we need a code enforcement officer so we can use our ordinance,” she added.

Other discussion during the meeting focused on the possibility of the code enforcement officer potentially serving as someone who could remove children from unsafe conditions.

Councilmember Thomas Herrera noted he hoped a code enforcement officer could help with cases of unsafe conditions for children locally; however, Jones answered he didn’t want to give false hope for this position to assist with child abuse in community.

Meeting attendees Gary Bridges and Gary Felt also shared they felt this was a good position.

The city council directed staff to continue with the process, with the caveat of maintaining dialogue with the council throughout the hiring process.