Chapter 8.64
ABATEMENT OF REAL PROPERTY NUISANCES

Sections:

8.64.010    Definitions.

8.64.020    Nuisances designated.

8.64.030    Duty to maintain free of nuisance.

8.64.040    Abatement.

8.64.050    Responsibility for abatement.

8.64.060    Notices and orders/manner of giving.

8.64.070    Notice/order of abatement.

8.64.080    Appeals.

8.64.090    Hearing/testimony and oaths.

8.64.100    Hearing – Conduct.

8.64.110    Decision of hearing officer.

8.64.120    Notice of decision.

8.64.130    Compliance with final order.

8.64.140    Cost of abatement.

8.64.150    Notice of cost hearing.

8.64.160    Report hearing and proceedings.

8.64.170    Service on owner of statement of costs/recordation.

8.64.180    Assessment of costs against property.

8.64.190    Nuisance abatement lien.

8.64.200    Assessment – Refunds.

8.64.210    Alternatives.

8.64.220    Emergency abatement.

8.64.230    Violation – Criminal penalty.

    Prior code history: Prior code §§ 5-3.301 – 5-3.314.

8.64.010 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, unless otherwise apparent from the context, the following definitions shall apply:

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

“Occupant,” when used in connection with a lot building or structure, means any person, including an owner, who has the legal or equitable right to use, occupy or possess the same, on either an exclusive or nonexclusive basis.

“Parkway” means and refers to that portion of street right-of-way between the back of the established curb line and the existing sidewalk.

“Property” for purposes of this chapter shall include the sidewalk and parkway abutting or adjoining the lot, parcel, tract, or piece of land at issue.

“Sidewalk” means any surface provided for the primary use of pedestrians.

“Weeds” means:

1. Weeds which bear seeds of a downy or wingy nature;

2. Sagebrush, chaparral, and any other brush or weeds which attain such large growth as to become, when dry, a fire menace to adjacent improved property;

3. Weeds which are otherwise noxious or dangerous; and

4. Dry grass, stubble, brush, litter, or other combustible material which endangers the public safety by creating a fire hazard. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.020 Nuisances designated.

It is declared a public nuisance for any person owning, leasing, occupying or having charge or possession of any real property in the city:

A. To maintain any building or structure on the property in such a manner as to constitute a health hazard, fire hazard or a danger to human life; or

B. To maintain the property, the topography or configuration of which, whether in a natural state or as a result of grading operations, in such a manner as to cause erosion, subsidence or surface water runoff problems which will or may be injurious to persons and/or to adjacent or nearby public or private properties; or

C. To maintain or fail to maintain the property so as to allow the overgrowth of vegetation or the accumulation of debris so as to constitute a fire or health hazard, be likely to harbor rats or other vermin, be dangerous to the public health, safety or welfare, or have a tendency to depreciate property values of surrounding properties; or

D. To maintain or fail to maintain the property so as to allow an overgrowth of weeds or grasses on the property to exceed twelve inches in height; or

E. To maintain or fail to maintain the property, or any building or structure thereon, in such condition so that it is defective, unsightly or in such condition of deterioration or disrepair that it causes or may be reasonably expected to cause any diminution of the property values of nearby properties or otherwise interferes with the peaceful use, possession and/or enjoyment of nearby properties and improvements; or

F. To abandon or vacate any real property, building or structure so that it becomes readily available to unauthorized persons, including but not limited to juveniles and vagrants; or

G. To cause or maintain any real property, building, structure, or improvement thereon, or uses and activities thereon, to be in violation of any provision of the Gardena Municipal Code; or

H. To use, occupy or maintain any building, structure, improvement or property, or any part thereof, in violation of any specific requirement or prohibition applicable to such building, structure, or property contained in the Gardena Municipal Code; or

I. To maintain any building or portion thereof in a manner which constitutes a substandard building pursuant to Section 17920.3 of the California Health and Safety Code; or

J. To maintain property in such condition as to be detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare or in such a manner as to constitute a public nuisance as defined by Civil Code Section 3480; or

K. To store, discharge, hold, handle, maintain, use or otherwise deal with hazardous substances, as defined by applicable state or federal laws or regulations:

1. In violation of federal, state or local laws or regulations, or

2. In such a manner to affect in any way air or water quality, or

3. In such a manner as to create an identifiable risk of accidental release of the substances, which release might adversely affect the health or safety of persons, damage property, or adversely affect air or water quality; or

L. To keep any animal, reptile or insect in such a manner as to pose a threat, disturbance, danger or menace to persons or property of another or in a public right-of-way; or

M. To operate or maintain any device, instrument, vehicle or machinery such that the operation or maintenance causes noise, vibrations, dust, exhaust or fumes which cause discomfort or annoyance to reasonable persons of normal sensitivity or endangers the comfort, repose, health or peace of the residents in the area; or

N. To fail to remove underground or aboveground storage vessels or tanks within six months after the use of such tanks or vessels ceases; or

O. To maintain property containing refuse, rubbish, garbage, offal, animal excrement or other waste materials visible from the public right-of-way or adjoining properties which are not kept or disposed of in accordance with regulations of this code or other provisions of law; or

P. To dispose of animal excrement in such a manner as to expose the excrement to fly and/or maggot infestation or resultant odor; or

Q. To allow and/or to cause animal excrement to run off onto any property not belonging to the owner or person in charge of such animal; or

R. To park or store any operable vehicle on property used or zoned for residential purposes, in any parkway, front or side yards, or on any part of the property other than on a lawfully installed surface which leads to a residential garage, carport, or other area specifically designated by Title 18 of the Gardena Municipal Code, the community development department, planning commission or city council; or

S. To cause or permit the accumulation or storage of abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative trailers, campers, boats, airplanes or other mobile equipment, or parts thereof, in yard areas or driveways visible from the public right-of-way or any adjoining properties unless such is stored or parked in a lawful manner on private property in connection with the business of a licensed dismantler, licensed vehicle dealer, or a junkyard; or

T. To maintain property containing attractive nuisances dangerous to children, including but not limited to:

1. Abandoned or broken equipment or machinery, or

2. Unfenced or otherwise unprotected swimming pools, spas, ponds or excavations, or

3. Refrigerators, iceboxes or deep freeze lockers having a capacity of one and one-half cubic feet or more which is not being used, without removing the door or such portion of the latch or locking mechanism as will prevent the latching or locking of the door, or

4. Uncapped or otherwise dangerous wells;

U. To maintain premises containing broken or discarded furniture or household equipment visible from the public right-of-way or any adjoining properties; or

V. To maintain premises with garbage or trash containers contrary to the provisions of the Gardena Municipal Code except when placed in places of collection at the times permitted; or

W. To maintain premises containing packing boxes, lumber, junk, trash or other materials and debris stored in yards and/or other areas visible from public streets or adjoining properties;

X. To maintain any building or structure on property which is partially destroyed, abandoned, or permitted to remain in a state of partial construction for more than twelve months after expiration of a valid building permit or extension thereof issued by the city; or

Y. To maintain any building, fence, landscaping or structure and/or the access thereto, with inscriptions, writings, scratches or other markings commonly referred to as “graffiti.” (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.030 Duty to maintain free of nuisance.

It shall be the duty of the owner, agent of the owner, lessee, and occupant or person in possession of any property, or any building or structure thereon, to maintain such property, building or structure free from the nuisances designated in Section 8.64.020 above. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.040 Abatement.

All or any part of any real property, or building or structure located thereon found, as provided in this chapter, to constitute a public nuisance, shall be abated by rehabilitation, repair, removal, clearing, demolition, cessation of the use or a combination thereof pursuant to the procedures set forth herein. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.050 Responsibility for abatement.

Whenever the public works director or the community development director or their designees (hereinafter “director”) reasonably believe a public nuisance exists, the director shall then commence abatement proceedings. The public works director shall have the responsibility for abating all violations of this chapter relating to weeds and graffiti. The community development director shall have the responsibility for abating all other violations of this chapter. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.060 Notices and orders/manner of giving.

A. All notices and orders shall be served on:

1. The owner of the affected property, building, or structure as shown on the latest equalized tax assessment roll or the supplemental roll, whichever is more current;

2. Any occupants of the affected property;

3. Any persons holding permits for the applicable property, building or structure;

4. The holder of any mortgage or deed of trust or other lien or encumbrance of record;

5. The holder of any lease of record;

6. The holder of any other estate or legal interest of record; and

7. To any other person who has requested such notice.

B. All notices shall be served on the owners and occupants by personal delivery or by registered or certified mail and shall be served on all others by regular mail.

C. The failure of any person to receive any notice required by this chapter shall not affect the validity of any proceeding under this chapter.

D. Notices shall be deemed to have been given as of the date of personal service or two calendar days following its deposit in the mail. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.070 Notice/order of abatement.

A. When the director reasonably believes a nuisance to exist, the director shall issue a notice of the director’s order requiring the abatement of such public nuisance to those persons and in the manner specified in Section 8.64.060A, and shall, within the same time period, conspicuously post the notice on the affected property, building or structure.

B. The order shall indicate the nature of the alleged nuisance, the description of the property involved, and shall direct the owner and/or occupant of the property to abate the conditions causing such nuisance and shall specify the manner of the abatement if applicable. The order shall set forth the time frames by which the nuisance must be abated.

C. The notice shall set forth the right to appeal the order within ten days from the date of service and shall specify that the order shall be deemed final, absent a timely filed appeal. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.080 Appeals.

A. Appeals shall be in writing and shall be filed with the city clerk within ten calendar days following service of the order. The appeal shall contain a complete statement of the legal and/or factual grounds for the appeal. The appeal shall be accompanied by a filing fee in an amount set by resolution of the city council.

B. A timely filed appeal shall stay the order. If an appeal is not timely filed, the order of the director shall be deemed to be final.

C. Upon the timely filing of an appeal, the city clerk shall give at least ten days’ notice of the time and place of an appeal hearing to the appellant and to all other persons listed in Section 8.64.060 in the manner specified therein. The hearing shall be not more than sixty days from the date of the appeal. The notice shall specify that the person has the right to be represented by an attorney, to present evidence and to cross-examine witnesses.

D. Nothing herein shall prevent any property owner or other person with the legal ability to so do from abating the nuisance prior to the time of the hearing and notifying the city of the same. Upon confirmation by the city that the nuisance has been abated, the need for the appeal hearing shall be deemed terminated, no costs shall be assessed or fines imposed and the appeal fee shall be refunded. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.090 Hearing/testimony and oaths.

A. The city manager shall designate the hearing officer. The city manager may sit as the hearing officer, unless to do so violates the requirements of due process. The hearing officer is authorized to take testimony and, in the course of doing so, is authorized to administer oaths or affirmations pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2093(a).

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. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.100 Hearing – Conduct.

A. 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.

B. The hearing officer shall consider all relevant evidence, including but not limited to applicable staff reports. The hearing officer shall give any interested persons a reasonable opportunity to be heard in conjunction therewith. Based upon the evidence so presented, the hearing officer shall determine whether a nuisance within the meaning of this chapter exists. The hearing officer may continue the hearing from time to time. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.110 Decision of hearing officer.

The hearing officer shall render his decision as soon as possible, but in no event more than thirty days after the close of the hearing and a copy of that decision shall be mailed to the appellant within five days after the decision is rendered. The decision of the hearing officer shall be final and conclusive. If it is determined that a nuisance exists, the decision shall include an order to abate the nuisance within a reasonable period of time as determined by the hearing officer and shall also include the manner in which the nuisance should be abated. The decision shall provide that pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1094.6, any action to review said decision shall be commenced not later than the ninetieth day after service of the decision. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.120 Notice of decision.

A copy of the city manager’s decision shall be given as provided for in Section 8.64.060 within five working days after the adoption thereof. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.130 Compliance with final order.

A. The owner and/or occupant of the property to which a final order relates shall promptly comply with all the provisions of the final order within the time specified.

B. If the nuisance is not completely abated as ordered, the city manager may cause the director to abate the same by city forces or private contract, and entry upon the premises, property, building and/or structure is expressly authorized for such purposes. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.140 Cost of abatement.

A. Where the director and/or the city attorney is required to cause the abatement of a public nuisance pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, an accounting of the actual costs shall be kept, including incidental expenses for the abatement. The term “incidental expenses” includes but is not limited to the actual expenses and costs of the city in the preparation of notices, specifications and contracts, inspection of the work, and the costs of printing and mailing required under this chapter, city overhead costs and city administrative costs including any attorney’s fees expended in the abatement of the nuisance, through civil action or otherwise. The city attorney shall be responsible for keeping an accounting of attorney’s fees and costs and transmitting the same to the director.

B. The prevailing party may recover its attorney’s fees in any action or administrative proceeding authorized by this chapter to abate a public nuisance if the city elects at the initiation of such action or proceeding to recover its own attorney’s fees. In no event shall an award of attorney’s fees to a prevailing party exceed the amount of reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the city.

C. Costs shall be assessed at the conclusion of the abatement; in the case of an abatement by any method which takes more than six months, costs may be assessed at any time after six months, but in no event more than two times a year.

D. The accounting of costs with an itemized statement shall be submitted to the city clerk who shall set the same for a hearing before the city manager. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.150 Notice of cost hearing.

A. When the city desires to assess costs against real property, an itemized report with available backup documentation shall be prepared by the finance director and submitted to the city clerk.

B. The city clerk shall fix a time, date, and place for hearing such report and any protests or objections thereto by the city manager.

C. The city clerk shall cause written notice to be served on the property owner not less than ten days prior to the time set for the hearing, as well as all other persons listed in Section 8.64.060. Notice to the property owner shall be by certified mail at the address as shown on the last equalized assessment roll of the Los Angeles County assessor with a duplicate copy to be sent by first-class mail. Notices to all other persons shall be by first-class mail. A copy of the notice shall be conspicuously posted on the property.

D. The notice shall include the time and place of the hearing and shall include the itemized report and backup documentation.

E. The notice shall specify that the property may be sold after three years by the tax collector for unpaid delinquent assessments. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.160 Report hearing and proceedings.

At the time and place fixed for receiving and considering the report, the city manager shall hear and pass upon the report of the director, together with any objections or protests thereto. Thereupon, the city manager shall make such revision, correction and modification to the report as he may deem just, after which the report as submitted, or as revised, corrected or modified, shall be confirmed. The hearing may be continued from time to time. The decision of the city manager shall be final. The decision shall specify that pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1094.6, any action to review said decision shall be commenced not later than the ninetieth day after the date the city manager’s decision is mailed. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.170 Service on owner of statement of costs/recordation.

A. The city clerk shall give notice of the city manager’s decision to the property owner and all such other persons as specified in Section 8.64.060. A copy of the notice shall also be conspicuously posted on the property.

B. The city clerk shall cause a copy of the decision to be recorded with the recorder of Los Angeles County. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.180 Assessment of costs against property.

The confirmed costs shall constitute a special assessment against the respective lot or parcel of land to which it relates; and, after its recording, as thus made and confirmed, the same shall constitute a lien on the property in the amount of the assessment. After the confirmation of the report, a copy thereof shall be transmitted to the tax collector for the city, whereupon it shall be the duty of the tax collector to add the amounts of the assessment, or assessments, to the next regular bills of taxes levied against the respective lots and parcels of land for municipal purposes; and thereafter the amounts shall be collected at the same time and in the same manner as ordinary municipal taxes are collected, and shall be subject to the same penalties and the same procedure for foreclosure and sale in case of delinquency as provided for ordinary municipal taxes. (Ord. 1744 § 10 (part), 2013: Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.190 Nuisance abatement lien.

A. As an alternative to imposing the cost of abatement as a special assessment against the property, the city may choose instead to collect the cost of abatement by a nuisance abatement lien in accordance with the provisions of this section.

B. The procedure to impose a nuisance abatement lien shall be the same as specified in Sections 8.64.140 through 8.64.180 herein except that the notice sent to the property owner as required by Section 8.64.060 must be served in the same manner as service of a summons in a civil action in accordance with Code of Civil Procedure Section 415.10 et seq. and the notice need not specify that the property can be sold for delinquent assessments. If after diligent search the owner of record cannot be found, the notice may be served by posting a copy thereof in a conspicuous place upon the property for ten days and by publication of the notice in a newspaper of general circulation pursuant to Government Code Section 6062.

C. A nuisance abatement lien imposed pursuant to this section shall be recorded in the county recorder’s office of the county of Los Angeles and from the date of recording shall have the force, effect and priority of a judgment lien.

D. A nuisance abatement lien imposed pursuant to this section shall specify the amount of the lien, the name of the city, the date of the abatement order, the street address, legal description and assessor’s parcel number of the parcel on which the lien is imposed, and the name and address of the recorded owner of the parcel.

E. In the event that the nuisance abatement lien is discharged, released, or satisfied, either through payment or foreclosure, notice of the discharge containing the information specified in paragraph D of this section shall be recorded by the city.

F. A nuisance abatement lien and the release of the lien shall be indexed in the grantor-grantee index.

G. A nuisance abatement lien may be foreclosed by an action brought by the city for a money judgment.

H. The city may recover from the property owner any costs incurred regarding the processing and recording of the nuisance abatement lien and providing notice to the property owner as part of a foreclosure action to enforce the lien. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.200 Assessment – Refunds.

The city manager may order refunded all or a part of an assessment made pursuant to the provisions of this chapter if the city manager shall find that all or a part of the assessment has been erroneously levied. An assessment, or part thereof, shall not be refunded unless a claim is filed with the city clerk on or before November 1st of the year after the tax becomes due and payable. Such claim shall be verified by the person who paid the tax or by his guardian, executor, or administrator. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.210 Alternatives.

A. The procedures set forth in this chapter are in addition to all other legal remedies, civil or criminal, which may be pursued by the city, including but not limited to:

1. Commencing a civil or criminal action to enforce all or any of the provisions of any final order;

2. Commencing a civil action to abate a public nuisance;

3. Filing a civil action to recover the amount of a confirmed accounting from an owner and/or occupant of the lot to which it relates;

4. Commencing a criminal action with respect to the nuisance set forth in this chapter;

5. Ordering the city’s enforcement officer to issue a citation for maintaining a public nuisance as defined by this chapter; and/or

6. Imposing administrative fines in accordance with Chapter 1.20 of this code in an amount set by resolution of the city council.

B. Where a civil action is filed, if the court issues an order or a judgment which finds a public nuisance to exist and orders or approves the abatement of the public nuisance, or where the court validates an accounting, the city is entitled to and the court shall also award the city its actual costs of abatement, as defined in Section 8.64.140. Failure of a court to award attorney’s fees as part of a judgment does not preclude the city from assessing costs against the property pursuant to the procedures set forth above.

C. Where a criminal action is filed which results in a conviction or plea of guilty, the city shall be entitled to its actual costs of abatement, as defined in Section 8.64.140. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.220 Emergency abatement.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter with reference to the abatement of a public nuisance, whenever the city manager determines that a condition exists which is structurally unsafe, constitutes a fire hazard, or is otherwise dangerous to human life, and such condition constitutes an immediate hazard or danger, he shall, without observing the provisions of this chapter with reference to abatement procedures, immediately and forthwith cause the existing public nuisance to be abated in such a manner as is determined to be reasonably required.

B. If the city manager deems it feasible, the city manager shall attempt to give the owner and/or occupant verbal notice of the existence of the public nuisance, and the proposed timing and method of abatement thereof. The city manager shall, forthwith, report such circumstances to the city council.

C. Where such abatement is ordered by the city manager pursuant to this section, the director or other person abating such nuisance shall, after completing the abatement of the public nuisance, comply with the provisions of Sections 8.64.140 through 8.64.190 hereof. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)

8.64.230 Violation – Criminal penalty.

The owner or any other person having charge or control of any such buildings or premises who maintains any public nuisance defined in this chapter, or who violates an order of abatement, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Ord. 1529 § 2 (part), 1997)