Noise ordinance causes conflict of tenant rights

20 Oct

Chico Mayor Mark Sorensen agendized a discussion of the noise ordinance at tonight’s council meeting – they want to hold landlords responsible, without a written complaint, and expect to be able to use mail as “proof of service.” 

This is an obvious revenue grab by the cops. When I saw an article about a similar situation in Yuba County, I sent Mayor Sorensen a note – it took me less than 15 minutes to write, send, and post this note on this blog:

Mayor Sorensen,

Regarding the discussion of the noise ordinance provision to fine landlords – please read Yuba County Superior Court judge’s decision below regarding fines on landlord for tenant’s illegal activities.  “Property owners have argued the county’s actions violates their property rights and places them in direct conflict with state law that protects tenant’s rights. They have claimed county code provides for exceptions to the owners responsibility and that is being ignored by the BOS. In his order, Barrier concurred saying there are exceptions to an owners responsibility if the owner did not cause, permit, or otherwise allow the existence of the violation and cannot legally abate said violation…” 

 

 I believe this rings true of noise violations as well. I don’t know what our county or city code says about tenant’s rights but I don’t think it matters in the face of state law.

Holding landlords liable for tenant’s  illegal activities causes a conflict of tenant’s rights.  I am limited in my rights to regulate my tenants’ behavior and can be held legally liable for anything resembling harassment. I have a tenant’s/landlord’s rights attorney – what’s Vince’s specialty? 

Notice of landlords by mail is unacceptable. That’s not “proof”, and USPS turnaround is not adequate to avoid the second offense.  You will have to make an ordinance that says rentals  must be registered with contact information provided. Good luck with that. 

It is very obvious this is just a revenue grab by Chico PD. Please tell them they need to pay their own pensions, or go get a job in the private sector.

Thanks for your ear, Juanita Sumner

From Territorial Dispatchhttp://territorialdispatch.biz/2015/oct/Oct14-2015WEB.pdf

The Cost of Justice in Yuba County – Judge Overturns Fine on Property Owners –  By Elden Fowler 

Yuba County Superior Court Judge Stephen W. Barrier has ruled in a lawsuit filed by Jon and Amy Messick against Yuba County and the decision does not bode well for the Board of Supervisors’ (BOS) plan to fund code enforcement by levying fines against property owners where marijuana is being cultivated by renters. The Messicks own a property where a tenant illegally cultivated marijuana. The County claimed administrative costs, abatement costs, and penalties in the amount of $18,774.51. Subsequent to an administrative hearing before the Yuba County Board of Supervisors (BOS), for which property owners are now required to pay $4,118, a lien was placed on their property in the amount of $15,974. While it now costs $4,118 to have an administrative hearing or appeal before the BOS, it also is expensive to proceed to have the matter settled in the courts. The costs associated with the Messick’s legal challenge were approximately $7,500, for a total in excess of $11,600 by today’s standard. If the county decides to appeal, those costs will undoubtedly climb higher. The administrative hearing process is similar to being in court for a trial. However, an administrative hearing involves disputes under the authority of governmental agencies. The courts have held that the hearings must be fair and administrative decision makers must be impartial. It is difficult to believe the decision makers, the BOS, are impartial when it is they that wrote the law that is being challenged, It was estimated the county would need more than $700,000 to fund an enhanced Code Enforcement Department with several new officers being hired. The BOS was counting on marijuana cultivation permit fees, fines, and penalty assessments to provide the funding. Collecting fees from landlords made good sense to this BOS. Barrier’s decision apparently places that program in question. Property owners have argued the county’s actions violates their property rights and places them in direct conflict with state law that protects tenant’s rights. They have claimed county code provides for exceptions to the owners responsibility and that is being ignored by the BOS. In his order, Barrier concurred saying there are exceptions to an owners responsibility “if the owner did not cause, permit, or otherwise allow the existence of the violation and cannot legally abate said violation…” With a host of assessments already approved by the BOS and more being prepared, this will undoubtedly not be the last case to go to court leaving the county with little choice but to change tactics or appeal the decisions in hopes of a more favourable ruling. In the meantime, property owners, without the financial resources to defend themselves against a county that holds them responsible for the actions of their tenants, face continued code enforcement actions and liens. 

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