Chapter 4.24
RECOVERY OF CIVIL PENALTIES AND ABATEMENT COSTS

Sections:

4.24.010    Declaration of purpose.

4.24.020    Procedures for recovering costs.

4.24.030    Recovery of civil penalties.

4.24.040    Confirmation of costs hearing.

4.24.050    Recovery of costs as a personal obligation.

4.24.060    Recovery of costs by special assessment.

4.24.070    Repayment to code enforcement civil penalties fund.

4.24.010 DECLARATION OF PURPOSE.

The city council finds that, in addition to the filing of civil collection actions by the city attorney, the use of nuisance abatement liens collected as personal obligations against property owners, and the use of special assessments on real property will assist in the collection of civil penalties, abatement costs, administrative costs, reinspection fees and late fees assessed pursuant to administrative citations, administrative hearings, judicial orders and other appropriate code enforcement actions. The city council further finds that collection of civil penalties, costs and fees assessed for code enforcement violations is important in deterring future violations and maintaining the integrity of the city’s code enforcement system. The city has the authority to make the expense of enforcement actions and abatement of any nuisance a lien against the property on which it is maintained and a personal obligation against the property owner, in accordance with California Government Code Section 38773.1; or in the alternative, the city has the authority to make the cost of abatement of a nuisance upon a parcel of land a special assessment against that parcel, in accordance with California Government Code Section 38773.5. The procedures established in this chapter shall be used to complement existing administrative or judicial remedies which may be pursued to address violations of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code or applicable state codes.

(Ord. 2000-17 § 2 (part), 2000).

4.24.020 PROCEDURES FOR RECOVERING COSTS.

This chapter governs the procedures for recovery of all administrative and actual costs incurred by the city in the recovery of civil penalties, in the abatement of a public nuisance, and for recordation and recovery of costs of enforcing nuisance abatement liens pursuant to the procedures and authority found in the California Government Code. The provisions of Government Code Sections 38771 through 38773.5 and any amendments to those sections are hereby incorporated by reference and made a part of this chapter.

(Ord. 2000-17 § 2 (part), 2000).

4.24.030 RECOVERY OF CIVIL PENALTIES.

(1)    The enforcement official may collect all civil penalties and related administrative costs by the use of all appropriate legal means, including referral to the finance director or city attorney.

(Ord. 2000-17 § 2 (part), 2000).

4.24.040 CONFIRMATION OF COSTS HEARING.

(1)    After the city has abated a public nuisance, the enforcement official shall request the hearing officer to schedule a cost confirmation hearing in accordance with the administrative enforcement hearing procedures set forth in Chapter 4.22. A cost confirmation hearing is also appropriate if the city incurred abatement preparation costs before a responsible person or property owner voluntarily abated the public nuisance.

(2)    A notice of the date, time and place of the cost confirmation hearing shall be served on the responsible person or property owner at least ten calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing by any one of the methods set forth in Chapter 4.03.

(3)    A copy of the report describing the work performed and an itemized account of the total abatement costs prepared pursuant to this chapter shall also be served on the responsible person or property owner at least ten calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing by any one of the methods set forth in Chapter 4.03.

(4)    The hearing officer at the cost confirmation hearing shall limit the scope of review to the enforcement official’s report describing the work performed and the itemized account of costs together with any objections to its accuracy. The hearing officer may make such revisions, corrections or modification in the report or the account as may be just and reasonable.

(5)    The hearing officer may issue an order which assesses the costs as either a personal obligation against the responsible person or property owner or a special assessment against the real property abated by the city.

(6)    At the cost confirmation hearing, the hearing officer shall not consider evidence regarding the merits of a previous abatement hearing and shall not review a decision ordering administrative or summary abatement, or imposition of civil penalties.

(7)    The hearing officer’s order confirming or modifying the amount of costs incurred by the city in performing the abatement shall be final and non-appealable.

(Ord. 2000-17 § 2 (part), 2000).

4.24.050 RECOVERY OF COSTS AS A PERSONAL OBLIGATION.

If the hearing officer orders that abatement costs be charged as a personal obligation of the responsible person, the enforcement official shall collect the obligation by use of all appropriate legal means. This may include the recordation of a nuisance abatement lien against the real property on which a nuisance is maintained. An enforcement official may assess a nuisance abatement lien pursuant to Government Code Section 38773.1 by following the procedures set forth in this chapter including the requirements set forth below:

(1)    Once a final administrative decision or judicial order establishes the amount of civil penalties, abatement costs, administrative fees and costs assessed against a responsible person for code violations, the enforcement official may record a nuisance abatement lien against the real property on which the nuisance is maintained.

(2)    Before recordation, the enforcement official shall provide to the responsible person or property owner a written “Notice of Intent to Record Nuisance Abatement Lien” informing such person that a nuisance abatement lien will be recorded unless the city receives full payment for the outstanding amount of civil penalties, costs and fees within the time period prescribed in the notice. Such notice shall be served in the same manner as a summons in a civil action in accordance with California Code of Civil Procedure, commencing at Section 415.10 et seq. Payment shall be due a minimum of ten calendar days from the date of the mailing.

(3)    If the property owner cannot be found after a diligent search, the notice can be posted on the property for a period of ten calendar days and the notice must be published in a general circulation newspaper once at least ten calendar days prior to recordation of the nuisance abatement lien.

(4)    A nuisance abatement lien shall be recorded in the Santa Cruz County recorder’s office and from the date of recording shall have the force, effect and priority of a judgment lien.

(5)    The nuisance abatement lien shall include the name of the agency on whose behalf the lien is imposed, the name of the property owner, responsible party and any financial institution with a legal interest in the property, the property’s assessor’s parcel number, the property’s legal description, the total amount of civil penalties, costs and fees due, including a breakdown of penalty assessments and reimbursement for the city’s administrative costs and a copy of any administrative or judicial order which awarded the civil penalties, costs and fees.

(6)    Once payment in full is received for the outstanding civil penalties and costs or the amount is deemed satisfied pursuant to a subsequent administrative or judicial order, the enforcement official shall either record a notice of cancellation or provide the property owner or financial institution with the Notice of Cancellation so they can record this notice with the Santa Cruz County recorder’s office. The notice of cancellation shall include the same information as provided for in the original nuisance abatement lien as described in Chapter 4.24. Such notice of cancellation shall cancel the nuisance abatement lien.

(7)    A copy of the recorded nuisance abatement lien shall be served upon the responsible person or property owner by one of the methods of service set forth in Chapter 4.03 of this code.

(8)    The failure of any person with a financial interest in the property to actually receive the notice of the lien shall not affect the validity of the lien or any proceedings taken to collect the outstanding civil penalties.

(9)    A nuisance abatement lien may be foreclosed by an action brought by the city for a money judgment. If unable to collect the nuisance abatement lien, the enforcement official may refer the case to the city attorney to file a court action to recover the costs.

(10)    The city may recover from the property owner any costs incurred regarding the processing and recording of the lien and providing notice to the property owner as part of its foreclosure action to enforce the lien.

(Ord. 2000-17 § 2 (part), 2000).

4.24.060 RECOVERY OF COSTS BY SPECIAL ASSESSMENT.

(1)    Once a final administrative decision or judicial order establishes that the amount of civil penalties, abatement costs, administrative fees and costs be charged against the property as a special assessment, the enforcement official shall prepare a notice of special assessment.

(2)    The enforcement official shall deliver the notice of special assessment to the county auditor who shall place it on the county assessment roll pursuant to Government Code Section 38773.5.

(3)    The notice of special assessment shall include a copy of the hearing officer’s cost confirmation order and shall summarize the abatement action. The enforcement official may record a copy of this special assessment notice to inform any subsequent purchasers or owners of the abatement action, costs and assessment.

(4)    The enforcement official shall record a cancellation of special assessment notice with the Santa Cruz county recorder when either: (i) the responsible person or property owner pays in full the abatement costs; or (ii) the Santa Cruz county auditor or tax collector posts a lien on the property pursuant to Government Code Section 38773.5.

(5)    Pursuant to the provisions of Government Code Section 38773.5 the Santa Cruz county tax collector may collect the amount of a special assessment at the same time and in the same manner as ordinary property taxes and impose the same penalties and procedures, including the sale of the property, in case of delinquency, as provided for with ordinary property tax collection. All laws applicable to the levy, collection and enforcement of property taxes shall be applicable to the special assessment.

(Ord. 2000-17 § 2 (part), 2000).

4.24.070 REPAYMENT TO CODE ENFORCEMENT CIVIL PENALTIES FUND.

All monies recovered by payment of the charge or assessment or from the sale or transfer of the property shall be remitted to the city finance director who shall credit the appropriate amount to the code enforcement civil penalties fund provided for in Chapter 4.28 or, alternatively use the monies to reimburse the department responsible for the subject code enforcement action where appropriate.

(Ord. 2000-17 § 2 (part), 2000).