Chapter 1.20
ADMINISTRATIVE CITATIONS

Sections:

1.20.010    Applicability.

1.20.020    Definitions.

1.20.030    Administrative citation.

1.20.035    Service of administrative citation and notices.

1.20.040    Amount of fines.

1.20.050    Payment of the fine.

1.20.060    Hearing request.

1.20.070    Advance deposit hardship waiver.

1.20.080    Hearing officer.

1.20.090    Hearing procedure.

1.20.100    Hearing officer’s decision.

1.20.110    Right to judicial review.

1.20.120    Failure to pay fines.

1.20.130    Enforcement – Denial of licenses and permits.

1.20.140    Repealed by Ord. 1744.

1.20.010 Applicability.

A. This chapter provides for the imposition of administrative fines to address any violation of this code as well as any failure to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by a franchise, land use approval, license, permit, or any other approval or decision of the city. Administrative citations are in addition to all other legal remedies, whether criminal, civil, or administrative, which may be pursued by the city. Each day that a violation continues or there is noncompliance with any condition or requirement constitutes a separate violation which shall be subject to a separate administrative fine.

B. In the case of continuing violations which do not create an immediate danger to health and safety, an administrative citation shall not be issued until there has been a failure to comply with at least one notice of violation to the responsible party which sets forth the offense, the necessary remedy and provides for a reasonable time period in which to correct or otherwise remedy the violation. Except for violations described in subsection C of this section, no notice of violation shall be required for a repeat violation of the same offense within a twelve-month period.

C. In the case of a continuing violation pertaining to building, plumbing, electrical or other similar structural or zoning issues which do not create an immediate danger to health or safety, an administrative citation shall not be issued until there has been a failure to comply with at least one notice of violation to the responsible party which sets forth the offense, the necessary remedy and provides for a reasonable time period in which to correct or otherwise remedy the violation.

D. Use of this administrative citation procedure shall be at the sole discretion of the city. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.020 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless otherwise stated:

“City manager” means the city manager of the city or his designee.

“Enforcement officer” means any city employee or agent of the city with the authority to enforce any provision of the Gardena Municipal Code and to issue administrative citations for a violation.

“Finance director” or “director” means the finance director of the city or his designee.

“Notice of violation” means a notice which sets forth the violation and a description thereof, the remedy required, and the time period in which to remedy the violation.

“Responsible party” means a person who is the owner or occupant of real property, or authorized agent of the owner or occupant of real property, or the parent or legal guardian of any person under the age of eighteen years, that permits, maintains, causes, or contributes to the cause of a violation of this code or a failure to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by a franchise, land use approval, license, permit, or any other approval or decision of the city. For purposes of this chapter, there may be more than one responsible party.

A. In the case of a continuing violation, when an owner of property is not the occupant of the property, such owner shall not be considered a responsible party unless the city has mailed at least one notice of violation to the owner at the address shown on the last equalized assessment roll of the Los Angeles County assessor pursuant to the procedure set forth in Section 1.20.035.

B. In the case of a noncontinuing violation, when an owner of property is not the occupant of the property, such owner shall not be considered a responsible party unless the city has previously made the owner aware of the same violation within the last twelve months. The owner shall be made aware of such violation in writing, mailed to the address shown on the last equalized assessment roll of the Los Angeles County assessor pursuant to the procedure set forth in Section 1.20.035.

“Violation” means any violation of any provision of the Gardena Municipal Code, any code adopted by reference by the Gardena Municipal Code, or any failure to comply with any condition or requirement imposed on any franchise, land use approval, license, permit or any other approval or decision of the city. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.030 Administrative citation.

A. Whenever an enforcement officer charged with the enforcement of any provision of this code determines that a violation has occurred, or there has been a failure to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by a franchise, land use approval, license, permit, or any other approval or decision of the city, the enforcement officer shall have the authority to issue an administrative citation to any person or other responsible party.

B. Each administrative citation shall contain the following information:

1. The date of the violation;

2. The address or a definite description of the location where the violation occurred;

3. The section of the code violated and a description of the violation;

4. The amount of the fine for the violation;

5. A description of the fine payment process, including a description of the time within which, and the place to which, the fine shall be paid;

6. An order prohibiting the continuation or repeated occurrence of the violation described in the administrative citation with notice that payment of the fine does not excuse the requirement to remedy a continuing violation;

7. A description of the administrative citation hearing review process, including the time within which the administrative citation may be contested and the place from which a request for hearing form to contest the administrative citation may be obtained;

8. A notice that each violation relating to real property also constitutes a nuisance and that collection of any unpaid fines or nuisance abatement costs may be enforced as an assessment or lien against the real property where the violation occurred;

9. The date of the citation;

10. The name and signature of the citing enforcement officer; and

11. A place for the person receiving the citation to sign and date the citation; however, a citation need not be signed to be valid. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.035 Service of administrative citation and notices.

A. An administrative citation may be issued by an enforcement officer to the responsible party for violation(s) of the municipal code, including any code adopted by reference, in the following manner:

1. Personal Service. The enforcement officer shall attempt to locate and personally serve the responsible party and attempt to obtain the signature of the responsible party on the administrative citation. If the responsible party refuses or fails to sign the administrative citation, the enforcement officer shall so indicate on the signature line. The failure or refusal to sign shall not affect the validity of the administrative citation or of subsequent proceedings. Service shall be deemed to have been completed on the date of personal delivery.

2. Service by Mail. As an alternative to personal service, the administrative citation may be mailed to the responsible party by certified mail, postage prepaid with a requested return service receipt. Simultaneously, the citation shall be sent by first class mail. If the citation is sent by certified mail and returned unsigned, then service shall be deemed effective pursuant to first class mail, provided the citation sent by first class mail is not returned. Notice to a property owner who is not an occupant of real property that is the subject of the violation shall be mailed to the owner’s address as shown on the last equalized assessment roll of the Los Angeles County assessor. Service shall be deemed to have been completed five days after deposit in the mail.

3. Service by Posting Notice. If the enforcement officer does not succeed in serving the responsible party personally or by certified mail or regular mail, the enforcement officer shall post the administrative citation on any real property within the city in which the city has knowledge that the responsible party has a legal interest, and such posting shall be deemed effective service. A photograph of the administrative citation posted on the property shall be taken as proof of service. Service shall be deemed to have been completed on the date of posting.

B. Unless otherwise specified, service of any other notice, decision or writing required pursuant to this chapter shall be accomplished in the manner specified in subsection A of this section.

C. Failure to receive any notice or citation or other documents specified in this chapter does not affect the validity of proceedings conducted hereunder. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013)

1.20.040 Amount of fines.

A. The amounts of the fines for municipal code violations imposed pursuant to this chapter shall be established by resolution of the city council.

B. The schedule of fines may specify increased fines for repeat violations of the same code provision by the same person.

C. The schedule of fines may specify the amount of any late payment charges imposed for the payment of a fine after its due date. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.050 Payment of the fine.

A. The fine shall be paid to the city within thirty days from the date of the administrative citation.

B. Payment of an administrative fine does not relieve a responsible party from remedying an ongoing violation.

C. Where there is more than one responsible party, each responsible party shall be jointly and severally liable for the amount of the fine, plus any interest and penalties that may be owed. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.060 Hearing request.

A. Any recipient of an administrative citation may contest that there was a violation or that he or she is a responsible party by filing a written request for an appeal hearing with the city clerk’s office within ten days from the date of service of the administrative citation.

B. Any appeal shall be accompanied by the deposit of any monies due to city pursuant to the administrative citation or a written statement that the appellant has applied for an advance deposit hardship waiver pursuant to Section 1.20.070.

C. The request shall state the grounds for contesting the administrative citation.

D. Appellant shall be provided at least ten days’ notice of the time and place set for the hearing which shall be not more than sixty days from the date of filing the appeal.

E. Any additional material submitted to the hearing officer in support of the administrative determination shall be served on the appellant at least five days prior to the date of the hearing.

F. Failure to timely request a hearing shall render the administrative citation final and shall constitute a failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.070 Advance deposit hardship waiver.

A. Any person who intends to request a hearing to contest that there was a violation of the code or that he or she is the responsible party and who is financially unable to make the advance deposit of the fine as required in Section 1.20.060B may file a request for an advance deposit hardship waiver to be determined by the finance director.

B. The request shall be filed in writing with the city clerk’s office no later than the date of the appeal.

C. The requirement of depositing the full amount of the fine as described in Section 1.20.060B shall be stayed unless or until the finance director makes a determination not to issue the advance deposit hardship waiver.

D. The finance director may waive the requirement of an advance deposit set forth in Section 1.20.060B and issue the advance deposit hardship waiver only if the cited party provides a sworn affidavit, together with any supporting documents or materials, demonstrating to the satisfaction of the director the person’s actual financial inability to deposit with the city the full amount of the fine in advance of the hearing.

E. If the finance director determines not to issue an advance deposit hardship waiver, the person shall remit the deposit to the city within ten days of the date of that decision or thirty days from the date of the administrative citation, whichever is later. However, in no event may the appeal hearing take place until the deposit is remitted.

F. The finance director shall issue a written determination listing the reasons for its determination to issue or not issue the advance deposit hardship waiver within thirty days of application and the written determination of the director shall be served upon the person within five days thereafter.

G. The written determination shall be final. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.080 Hearing officer.

A. The city manager shall designate the hearing officer for the administrative citation hearing. The city manager may sit as the hearing officer, unless to do so violates the requirements of due process.

B. The employment, performance, evaluation, compensation and benefits of the hearing officer shall not be directly or indirectly conditioned upon the outcome of the decision or the amount of any monies due to the city upheld by the hearing officer. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.090 Hearing procedure.

A. No hearing shall be held unless the fine has been deposited in advance in accordance with Section 1.20.060 or an advance deposit hardship waiver has been issued in accordance with Section 1.20.070.

B. A hearing shall be set for a date that is not less ten days and not more than sixty days from the date that the request for hearing is filed.

C. The formal and technical rules of evidence shall not apply in the conduct of the hearing. Evidence, including hearsay, may be admitted only if it is a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs. Appellant shall be given the opportunity to testify, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses.

D. The failure of appellant to appear at the hearing shall constitute a forfeiture of the fine and a failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

E. The administrative citation and any additional report submitted by the enforcement officer shall constitute prima facie evidence of the respective facts contained in those documents.

F. The hearing officer may continue the hearing and request additional information from the enforcement officer or the appellant prior to issuing a written decision. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.100 Hearing officer’s decision.

A. After considering all of the testimony and evidence submitted at the hearing, the hearing officer shall issue a written decision to uphold, modify, or cancel the administrative citation and shall list in the decision the reasons for that decision. The decision of the hearing officer shall be final.

B. If the hearing officer determines that the administrative citation should be upheld, then the fine amount on deposit with the city shall be retained by the city.

C. If the hearing officer determines that the administrative citation should be upheld and the fine has not been deposited pursuant to an advance deposit hardship waiver the hearing officer shall set forth in the decision a payment schedule for the fine.

D. If the hearing officer determines that the administrative citation should be reduced or canceled and the fine was deposited with the city, then the city shall promptly provide a refund of the amount, together with interest at the average rate earned on the city’s portfolio for the period of time that the fine amount was held by the city.

E. The hearing officer shall issue a written decision including the reasons therefor within thirty days of the conclusion of the hearing. The decision shall be served upon the appellant within five days after the decision is rendered.

F. The decision of the hearing officer shall be final. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996)

1.20.110 Right to judicial review.

Any person aggrieved by an administrative decision of a hearing officer on an administrative citation may obtain review by filing an appeal with the superior court of Los Angeles County within twenty days after service of the hearing officer’s decision in accordance with the provisions set forth in California Government Code Section 53069.4. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996. Formerly 1.20.130)

1.20.120 Failure to pay fines.

A. Any person who fails to pay to the city any fine imposed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter on or before the date that fine is due, according to the administrative citation, hearing officer’s decision, or court order if timely appealed, shall also be liable for the payment of any applicable late payment charges, including a late payment fee and interest, set forth in the schedule of fines. In no event shall the total due for an infraction exceed the amount set forth in Section 1.16.010E.

B. The failure of any person to pay any fine on or before the date that fine is due, according to the administrative citation, hearing officer’s decision, or court order if timely appealed, may result in the city pursuing any and all legal and equitable remedies to collect the civil fines, including but not limited to those remedies set forth herein. In addition to the fine, the city will be entitled to recover its collection costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees, according to proof and shall be entitled to interest on the unpaid fine in an amount allowed by law pursuant to Civil Code Section 3289(b).

C. For unpaid administrative fines which relate to real property, the city may collect such fines and charges through an assessment or nuisance abatement lien in accordance with the procedures set forth in Sections 8.64.150 through 8.64.200. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996. Formerly 1.20.110)

1.20.130 Enforcement – Denial of licenses and permits.

A. Denial of Licenses and Permits. In addition to any other means provided by law, the city may collect any past due administrative citation fine, late payment charge, costs, finally determined taxes or fees by declining to issue or renew any license, permit, zoning variance or other permission required and applied for by the responsible party under any chapter of Titles 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18 of the City of Gardena Municipal Code until the responsible party pays such fine, charge, costs, finally determined taxes and fees.

B. Procedure to Deny Licenses and Permits.

1. When the enforcement officer becomes aware that a responsible party has failed to pay such fine, charge, costs, finally determined tax or fees within the time prescribed in the administrative citation, the hearing officer’s written decision, or in any order of a court of competent jurisdiction, whichever is applicable, the enforcement officer shall notify the departments responsible for issuing the above-described licenses and permits that said responsible party has a delinquent debt, and that no licenses or permits may be issued to the responsible party until the debt has been fully satisfied.

2. At or prior to the time when a responsible party applies for a license or permit, or for a renewal of such license or permit, the department that is responsible for issuing the license or permit shall notify the responsible party that he or she is ineligible for such license or permit issuance or renewal due to the outstanding debt. The notice shall inform the responsible party that he or she may request a description of the outstanding debt from the administrative services department, and shall inform the responsible party of his or her right to appeal the denial of the license or permit under this section. If notice is provided by mail, it shall be sufficient to mail the notice to the last address the responsible party provided to the issuing department. The date of notice shall be the date the notice was deposited in the mail, if served by first class mail; the date of delivery, if served by personal service; or the date of service if served by any other manner.

3. Upon the responsible party’s request, the administrative services department shall provide the responsible party with a written description of his or her outstanding debt.

4. For purposes of this subsection C, “responsible party” shall include any attorney, agent or representative of a responsible party. The applicable department shall have the right to deny the issuance or renewal of a license or permit if the department reasonably believes that the attorney, agent or representative is seeking the issuance or renewal of a license or permit on behalf of the party responsible for the outstanding debt to the city. In such case, the applicable department shall send written notice of ineligibility to both the responsible party and his or her attorney, agent or representative.

C. Request for Appeal. The appeal provisions of this subsection C shall specifically apply to the denial of a license or permit, notwithstanding any provision of Chapter 1.12 to the contrary.

A responsible party shall have ten business days from the date of notice to appeal the department’s denial by requesting a hearing by the city manager. Requests for an appeal hearing shall be made in writing to the city manager’s office. A request for hearing shall include:

1. The full name, address and telephone number of the responsible party/appellant;

2. A written statement signed by the responsible party/appellant setting forth facts, law or other information relevant to establishing a defense to the department’s denial of the license or permit;

3. A copy of the notice provided to the responsible party/appellant by the license/permit issuing department under subsection (B)(2) of this section;

4. Any documentary evidence that supports the responsible party/appellant’s appeal, including receipts demonstrating payment of the alleged debt; and

5. Payment of the applicable appeal fee in an amount as may be set by city council resolution.

D. Appeal Procedure. Upon receipt of a timely and proper request for a hearing, the city manager shall assign a hearing date no later than fifteen business days after the date of request. The hearing shall not be continued without the consent of the responsible party/appellant. The city manager shall determine whether or not the responsible party/appellant is ineligible for a license/permit pursuant to this section. The hearing shall comply with the following provisions:

1. The city manager shall abide by any prior determination that a debt exists and the scope of review shall be limited to: (a) whether the debt has been satisfied and (b) whether the responsible party/appellant was properly notified that a debt exists pursuant to this chapter, whether by administrative citation, written decision of the hearing officer, or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, whichever is applicable. The responsible party/appellant shall not be entitled to raise any defenses related to his or her liability for the underlying debt.

2. The formal and technical rules of evidence shall not apply in the conduct of the hearing. Evidence, including hearsay, may be admitted only if it is a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs.

3. At the conclusion of the hearing, the city manager shall issue a final order that the responsible party/appellant is either eligible or ineligible for issuance or renewal of the license/permit. If the responsible party/appellant is found to be ineligible, his or her license/permit may not be issued or renewed prior to the payment of the outstanding debt. The city manager shall issue an order no more than fifteen business days after the conclusion of the hearing, which shall be served upon the responsible party/appellant within five days after the decision is rendered. The decision of the city manager, or his designee, shall be final.

E. Optional Issuance by City Department. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection B of this section, a city department may, but shall not be required to, issue an initial or renewal license or permit to a responsible party if the director of the issuing department or other appropriate city department or agency determines that:

1. The responsible party has entered into an agreement with a court of competent jurisdiction, the administrative services department, or other appropriate city department or agency, for the payment of all debts owed and the responsible party is in compliance with the agreement; or

2. The responsible party is contesting liability for or the amount of the debt in a pending administrative or judicial proceeding; or

3. The responsible party has filed a petition in bankruptcy and the debts owed are dischargeable in bankruptcy.

F. Existing License/Permit to Remain in Effect Pending Appeal. When the holder of a license or permit is notified in accordance with subsection B of this section that such license or permit will not be renewed unless an outstanding debt is paid, and provided that the license or permit at issue is still valid and current at the time a request for appeal is timely filed with the city manager’s office, the license or permit shall remain in effect during the pendency of the appeal process described in subsection D of this section. When a license or permit is found to be eligible for renewal, through the appeal process, it shall remain in effect until the renewal is issued. When a license or permit is found to be ineligible for renewal, through the appeal process, it shall expire at such time as the license or permit holder has exhausted or failed to exhaust the appeal procedures described in subsection D of this section.

No provision of this subsection shall be construed to keep in effect or extend the life of a license or permit that has expired, been terminated or otherwise been rendered invalid prior to the date that a request for appeal is filed with the city manager’s office. Further, no provision of this subsection shall be construed to grant any new license or permit rights to a responsible party that does not have a valid and current license or permit prior to the date that a request for appeal is filed with the city manager’s office. (Ord. 1744 § 3 (part), 2013: Ord. 1656 § 1, 2004; Ord. 1504 § 1 (part), 1996. Formerly 1.20.120)