Chapter 1.20
ADMINISTRATIVE CITATIONS

Sections:

1.20.010    Applicability.

1.20.020    Definitions.

1.20.030    Scope.

1.20.040    Issuance of administrative citation – Contents.

1.20.050    Service of citation.

1.20.060    Payment of administrative penalties, late charges – Interest.

1.20.070    Administrative penalties, late charges – Collection of fees and costs.

1.20.080    Right to an administrative hearing.

1.20.090    Hardship waiver of advance deposit of fine.

1.20.100    Administrative hearing – Procedures.

1.20.110    Hearing decision – Right of appeal.

1.20.120    Failure to comply constitutes misdemeanor.

1.20.010 Applicability.

(A) Use of this chapter shall be at the sole discretion of the City and is one remedy that the City has to address violations of the Palmdale Municipal Code. By adopting this chapter, the City does not intend to limit its discretion or ability to utilize any criminal, civil or other remedies, or any combination thereof, to address any violations of the City’s laws.

(B) This chapter makes any violation of the provisions of the Palmdale Municipal Code subject to administrative penalties.

(C) This chapter establishes the administrative procedures for the imposition, enforcement, collection, and administrative review of administrative penalties pursuant to Government Code Section 53069.4.

(D) An administrative penalty in the amount adopted by resolution of the City Council is hereby imposed on all persons found to have violated any provision of the Palmdale Municipal Code.

(E) City of Palmdale Enforcement Officers and other persons designated by the City Manager are hereby authorized to issue administrative citations in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

(F) Administrative penalties shall be paid directly to the Finance Office of the City of Palmdale. Payment of the penalty shall not excuse failure to correct or abate a violation, nor shall it bar concurrent or further enforcement actions by the City.

(G) The City Attorney/designee may review and dismiss all or any part of any citation at any time if the City Attorney/designee determines that the citation or any part of it was issued in error, in which event the corresponding penalty paid shall be refunded. Notice of such dismissal shall be given to the citee in writing.

(H) The City Manager/designee is authorized to promulgate procedural rules and regulations governing the implementation of this chapter. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following words are defined as follows:

(A) “Citation” means an administrative citation that is issued to a responsible person pursuant to this chapter.

(B) “Citee” means a responsible person to whom a citation is issued.

(C) “Code” shall include: (1) the entire Palmdale Municipal Code and all Los Angeles County and other codes incorporated therein by adoption or reference, (2) any uncodified ordinance adopted by the Palmdale City Council.

(D) “Enforcement Officer” (also referred to as “Officer”) shall mean any City employee with obligations to enforce the Palmdale Municipal Code, including the following: Senior Code Enforcement Officer, Code Enforcement Officer, Community Service Officer, Building Official, Supervising Building Inspector, Senior Building Inspector, Building Inspector, City Engineer, Supervising Public Works Inspector, Parking Enforcement Supervisor, Supervising Public Security Officer, Senior Public Security Officer and Public Security Officer classifications of employees. The City Manager may designate additional persons to act as Officers for purposes of implementing the provisions of this chapter.

(E) “Hearing Officer” means the person, private entity, organization, association, public official, or duly constituted reviewing authority or commission, designated or appointed by the City Manager.

(F) “Owner” means and includes any person having legal title to, or who leases, rents, occupies or has charge, control or possession of, or responsibility for, any real property in the City, including all persons identified as owners on the last equalized assessment roll of the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office. An owner of personal property or animals shall be any person who has legal title, charge, control or possession of, or responsibility for, personal property. An owner may include an agent, manager or representative thereof.

(G) “Property” or “premises” means any real property, or improvements thereon, or portions thereof, as the case may be. “Property” includes any parkway or unimproved public easement abutting such real property. “Property” shall also include all forms of personal property or animals, where applicable.

(H) “Responsible person” means any person who violates any provision of the code or who allows, causes, creates, maintains or permits a violation of the code to exist or continue, by any act or omission to act, and includes any owner, tenant, renter, lessor, lessee, manager, agent, lienholder or any fiduciary or person with power of attorney or other person who is occupying or having charge, possession or control of the premises or has the authority and ability to act on behalf of, or in the interest of, the owner of property where a violation exists. When property is held in common by more than one owner, each owner is a responsible person, even when a homeowner’s association has been formed to manage and maintain such commonly owned property. Such a homeowner’s association shall also be a responsible person.

(I) “Violation” shall mean an act or omission of any act, or use or condition that constitutes an offense of the code, as well as a breach or violation of any condition of a permit, approval or license issued pursuant to the code. A “transient” violation is one that is brief or spontaneous in its commission, or that is not typically confined to a fixed location. A “nontransient” violation is continuing in nature and generally present at one location. (Ord. 1408 § 2, 2010; Ord. 1378 § 2, 2009; Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.030 Scope.

This chapter imposes an administrative penalty pursuant to an administrative citation for any violation of the code, as well as for a breach or violation of any condition of a permit, approval or license issued pursuant to the code. This remedy may be utilized in place of, or in addition to, any other remedy allowed by the code or state law. The City Manager/designee shall have sole discretion to utilize any remedy or remedies as authorized by law. This administrative citation remedy may be utilized notwithstanding the fact that a violation of any specific code section is designated therein to be a misdemeanor or infraction. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.040 Issuance of administrative citation – Contents.

(A) Whenever an Officer determines that a violation of the code has occurred, the Officer may issue an administrative citation on a City-approved form listing the code violation(s) and the amount of the administrative penalties required to be paid by the responsible person(s) in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

(B) When the violation pertains to building, plumbing, electrical or other similar structural or zoning issues that creates an immediate danger to health or safety, a citation may be issued forthwith together with a notice to abate in accordance with PMC Title 8. In the absence of an immediate danger, a citation for such a violation shall not be issued pursuant to this chapter unless the responsible person has first been provided with notice to abate and a reasonable period, as determined by the Officer, in which to abate or correct the violations.

(C) An Officer may issue an amended administrative citation when the Officer determines that the original administrative citation contained errors or did not accurately reflect prior citations or convictions.

(D) Each citation shall contain the following information:

(1) Name and mailing address of the responsible person;

(2) The address or description of the location of the violation;

(3) The date of the citation;

(4) The code or ordinance section(s) violated;

(5) A description of the violation(s);

(6) Amount of the administrative penalty for each violation, the procedure and place to pay the penalties, and any late and interest charge(s), if not timely paid, and notice that if the City is required to take action to collect such penalties, the responsible person may be charged costs and attorney fees;

(7) When appropriate, the action(s) required to correct the violation(s), and, if applicable, any deadlines or time limitations for commencing and completing such action(s);

(8) A description of the administrative citation review process and the manner by which a hearing on a citation may be requested (including the form to be used, how to obtain the form, and the period within which a request must be made in order to be timely);

(9) The name and signature of the Officer, and the signature of the citee, if he or she is physically present and will sign the citation at the time of its issuance. The refusal of a citee to sign a citation shall not affect its validity or any related subsequent proceeding, nor shall signing a citation constitute an admission that a person is responsible for a violation of the code;

(10) Any other information deemed necessary by the City Manager. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.050 Service of citation.

(A) A citation including any amended citation may be served in any manner provided for service of summons by the California Code of Civil Procedure and also may be served by certified mail through the United States Postal Service. The date of service shall constitute the issuance date of a citation.

(B) If served by certified mail, the citation shall be sealed in an envelope with postage prepaid and addressed to the citee at the address shown on the most current tax roll of the County or, if more current information is contained in City records, at that address. The date a citation is deposited with the United States Postal Service shall: (1) constitute its issuance date, and (2) the date that service by certified mail shall be deemed to have been completed. If this is the method of service, a courtesy copy of the citation shall also be sent to the responsible person in a sealed envelope by first class mail to the same location.

(C) If an agent, manager or representative of a responsible person is personally served with a citation, a copy thereof shall also be served by certified mail to the responsible person at his or her last-known business or residence address as the same appears in public records of the City. In such instances, the date a copy of the citation is deposited with the U.S. Postal Service shall constitute the issuance date of a citation.

(D) Any notice or order given pursuant to any provision of this chapter shall be served in the manner provided for in this section, unless otherwise stated.

(E) Failure of a citee to receive a citation or notice shall not invalidate any penalty, late charge, action or proceeding that is imposed or brought pursuant to this chapter, if service was given in a manner stated in this section. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.060 Payment of administrative penalties, late charges – Interest.

(A) A citee shall pay the administrative penalties listed on the citation to the City within 20 calendar days from the issuance date of the citation. For penalties not paid in full within that time, a late charge in the amount set forth by resolution of the City Council is hereby imposed and must be paid to the City by the citee. Penalties not paid within the time established by resolution of the City Council shall accrue interest at the rate set forth therein.

(B) Administrative penalties and any late charges and interest due shall be paid to the City at such location or address as stated in the citation, or as may otherwise be designated by the City Manager.

(C) Upon confirmation of a citation or when the citation is deemed confirmed, all unpaid administrative penalties shall constitute a judgment which may be collected in any manner allowed by law for collection of judgments including but not limited to recordation to create a lien on any real property owned by the responsible person. The City shall be entitled to recover its attorney fees and costs incurred in collecting any administrative penalty, late charges and/or interest.

(D) Payment of the administrative penalty shall not excuse or discharge a citee from the duty to immediately abate and correct a violation of the code, nor from any other responsibility or legal consequences for a continuation or repeated occurrence(s) of a violation of the code.

(E) Abatement of a violation shall not excuse the obligation of a citee to pay an administrative penalty, and any late charge or interest. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.070 Administrative penalties, late charges – Collection of fees and costs.

(A) The City Council shall establish the amounts of administrative penalties, late charges and interest in a schedule of penalties adopted by resolution of the City Council. The City Council may, by resolution, also impose escalating penalties in amounts it deems appropriate for repeat offenses within the time periods listed in the resolution.

(B) The City Council may, by resolution, also establish and impose a daily interest charge on penalties and the commencement of its accrual. Interest shall not be imposed on a late charge. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.080 Right to an administrative hearing.

(A) Any citee may contest the violation(s), or that he or she is a responsible person, by filing a request for an administrative hearing on a City-approved form with the Office of the City Clerk, 38300 Sierra Highway, Palmdale, CA 93550, within 20 calendar days from the issuance date of a citation. If the Office of the City Clerk does not receive the request in the required period, the citee shall have waived the right to a hearing and the citation shall be deemed confirmed and final.

(B) No fee shall be charged for the filing of a request for a hearing.

(C) Citees must deposit the full amount of the penalty listed on the citation on or before the request for a hearing is filed unless a request for waiver of advance deposit, as described herein below, is filed before or with the request for hearing. Failure to deposit the full amount of all penalties within the required time period, or the tender of a nonnegotiable check, shall render a request for an administrative hearing incomplete and untimely, unless a waiver of advance deposit is granted as set forth below. Penalties that are deposited with the City shall not accrue interest. Penalties deposited shall be returned to the person who deposited them if the citation is overturned.

(D) A request for a hearing shall contain the following:

(1) The citation number.

(2) The name, address, telephone and any facsimile numbers, of each person contesting the citation.

(3) A statement of the reason(s) why a citation is being contested.

(4) The date and signature of the citee(s).

(E) The City will notify all persons who filed a request for a hearing in writing by first class mail of the date, time and place set for the hearing at least 10 calendar days prior to the date of the hearing. Service of this notice is deemed complete at time of mailing. The failure of a citee to receive a properly addressed notice shall not invalidate the citation or any hearing, City action or proceeding conducted pursuant to this chapter.

(F) The hearing will be conducted within 60 days of the date a timely and complete request is received by the Office of the City Clerk.

(G) If the Officer submits an additional written report concerning the citation to the Office of the City Clerk for consideration at the hearing, the Officer shall also serve a copy of such report by first class mail on the person requesting an administrative hearing no less than three calendar days prior to the date set for hearing. Failure to receive said report shall not invalidate the citation or any hearing, City action or proceeding conducted pursuant to this chapter.

(H) A timely request for a hearing shall not excuse a citee from the duty to immediately abate or correct a violation of the code, nor from any other responsibility or legal consequences for a continuation or repeated occurrence(s) of a violation of the code. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.090 Hardship waiver of advance deposit of fine.

(A) A citee who is financially unable to deposit the administrative penalty with his or her request for a hearing may request a waiver of this requirement by completing and submitting the City-approved application form for an advance deposit hardship waiver (hereafter the “hardship waiver”). This form and all required accompanying records must be submitted before or together with the request for a hearing, to the Office of the City Clerk, 38300 Sierra Highway, Palmdale, CA 93550.

(B) To be considered for a hardship waiver, the application form must be complete, signed, and must be accompanied by documents that enable the City to reasonably determine the citee’s present inability to deposit the penalty. Documents suitable for consideration may include, without limitation, accurate, complete and legible copies of state and federal income tax returns and all schedules for the preceding tax year; financial statements, loan applications, bank account records, income and expense records for 12 months preceding submittal of the waiver form, as well as other documentation demonstrating the citee’s financial hardship. The City will, after a citation is final or confirmed, destroy the documents submitted by a citee for a hardship waiver without prior notice to the citee.

(C) The City will issue a written decision specifying the reasons for issuing or not issuing the hardship waiver. This decision is final and nonappealable. The decision shall be served upon the person requesting the hardship waiver by first class mail.

(D) Approval of a hardship waiver shall result in the City setting a hearing pursuant to PMC 1.20.100.

(E) If the City determines that the citee is not entitled to a hardship waiver, the citee shall deposit the full amount of the administrative penalties with the Office of the City Clerk within seven calendar days of the date the decision is deposited with the U.S. Postal Service. In the event the City Clerk does not receive the full amount of the penalties within the required period: (1) a late charge shall be imposed; (2) the request for a hearing shall be considered incomplete and untimely; and (3) the citee shall have waived the right to a hearing and the citation shall be deemed confirmed and final. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.100 Administrative hearing – Procedures.

(A) The Hearing Officer designated or appointed by the City Manager shall hear all requests for administrative hearings of administrative citations in accordance with the procedures established herein.

(B) Administrative hearings are informal, and formal rules of evidence and discovery do not apply. The City bears the burden of proof to establish a violation and responsibility therefor by a preponderance of evidence. The citation is prima facie evidence of the violation, however, and the Officer who issued the citation is not required to attend or participate at the hearing. The citee(s), and Officer, if present, shall have an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses. A citee may bring an interpreter to the hearing provided there is no expense to the City therefor. The Hearing Officer may question any person who presents evidence or who testifies at any hearing.

(C) A citee may appear at the hearing in person or by written declaration executed under penalty of perjury. Said declaration and any documents in support thereof shall be tendered to and received by the Office of the City Clerk at least three City business days prior to the hearing. If the citee fails to attend the scheduled hearing, or does not submit a written declaration in a timely manner, he or she shall be deemed to have waived the right to a hearing. In such an instance, the Hearing Officer shall cancel the hearing and not render a decision. In such instances, the citation shall be deemed confirmed.

(D) Hearings may be continued once at the request of a citee or the Officer who issued the citation. The Hearing Officer may also continue the hearing for cause. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.110 Hearing decision – Right of appeal.

(A) After considering all of the testimony and evidence submitted at the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall issue a written decision to uphold or overturn the citation and shall state the reasons therefor. If the citation is upheld and the violation has not been fully abated or corrected on or before the date of the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall order abatement and/or correction thereof in the decision and specify deadline(s) by which the abatement and/or correction must be completed.

(B) The Hearing Officer shall serve citee(s) by first class mail with a copy of the written decision. The date the decision is deposited with the U.S. Postal Service shall constitute the date of its service. The failure of a citee to receive a properly addressed decision shall not invalidate any hearing, City action or proceeding conducted pursuant to this chapter.

(C) Decisions of the Hearing Officer may be appealed, in accordance with Government Code Section 53069.4(b), to the superior court within 20 days after the date of their service. Each decision shall contain a statement advising the citee(s) of this appeal right and the procedures and court filing fee for its exercise. A citee shall serve a copy of the court-filed notice of appeal on the Office of the City Clerk, 38300 Sierra Highway, Palmdale, CA 93550, by personal service or first class mail within five calendar days of filing the original thereof.

(D) If a Hearing Officer’s decision is not appealed in a timely manner, the decision shall be deemed confirmed.

(E) The superior court is the sole reviewing authority and an appeal from a Hearing Officer’s decision is not appealable to the City Council. If a responsible person prevails on appeal, the City shall reimburse his or her filing fee, as well as the fine deposit in accordance with the court judgment. These moneys shall be mailed to the responsible person within 30 calendar days of the City’s receipt of a notice of judgment or ruling from the superior court clerk. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)

1.20.120 Failure to comply constitutes misdemeanor.

Failure of a citee to comply with a corrective action stated in any uncontested citation, or with regard to a correction order in any Hearing Officer decision that is deemed confirmed and not appealed to the superior court, shall constitute a misdemeanor. (Ord. 1303 § 2, 2007)