Chapter 6.25
CITATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE ABATEMENT

Sections:

6.25.010    Purpose.

6.25.020    Scope.

6.25.030    Enforcement alternatives.

6.25.040    Administrative citation.

6.25.050    Procedure for administrative citations.

6.25.060    Service of administrative citations.

6.25.070    Opportunity to correct violation.

6.25.080    Satisfaction of an administrative citation.

6.25.090    Appeal of administrative citation.

6.25.100    Administrative hearing officers.

6.25.110    Notice of administrative appeal hearing.

6.25.120    Administrative hearing officer disqualification.

6.25.130    Hearing procedures.

6.25.140    Penalties and costs assessed.

6.25.150    Failure to pay civil penalties.

6.25.160    Severability.

6.25.170    Civil or criminal actions not affected.

6.25.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a clear and explicit process for the enforcement of animal control regulation as set forth in the Santa Cruz County Code related to the protection of the health, safety and welfare of animals. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.020 Scope.

This chapter sets for procedures for the enforcement of County animal control regulations in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.030 Enforcement alternatives.

(A)    Any violation of animal control regulations shall be enforced through one or more of the following remedies:

(1)    Abatement as a public nuisance pursuant to this title and Chapter 1.12 SCCC.

(2)    Criminal prosecution.

(3)    Administrative citation, for the recovery of civil penalties and enforcement costs pursuant to this chapter and Chapter 1.12 SCCC.

(4)    Civil action for injunction, civil penalties, or other appropriate remedies provided by law including, but not limit to, Chapter 1.12 SCCC.

(5)    Any other remedies provided by law. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.040 Administrative citation.

The Animal Shelter General Manager or any Animal Shelter Control Officer may issue an administrative citation assessing a civil penalty to any person violating any provision of this title.

(A)    Administrative penalties established pursuant to this chapter shall be imposed and collected as set forth herein including, but not limited to, Chapter 1.12 SCCC.

(B)    Each provision of this title that is violated constitutes a separate offense. Each and every day a violation of any provision of this title exists constitutes a separate and distinct offense.

(C)    A civil penalty assessed by an administrative citation shall be payable directly to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

(D)    Civil penalties assessed by an administrative citation shall be collected in accordance with the procedures specified in this chapter and Chapter 1.12 SCCC. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.050 Procedure for administrative citations.

(A)    The Animal Shelter General Manager or any Animal Shelter Control Officer may issue an administrative citation to any person responsible for a violation of this title.

(B)    When a violation of any of the provisions of this title is identified, the Animal Shelter General Manager or an Animal Shelter Control Officer shall identify the owner or responsible party and issue an administrative citation. A responsible party shall be deemed to be the person who is in immediate control of the animal or activity that constitutes a violation.

(C)    The administrative citation shall be issued on a form prescribed by the Animal Shelter General Manager and shall contain the following information:

(1)    The form shall be titled “Administrative Citation.”

(2)    The date, approximate time, and address or definite description of the location where the violation(s) was observed.

(3)    The provisions of this title violated and a description of the violation.

(4)    A description of the action required to correct the violation.

(5)    An order to the owner or responsible party to correct the violation(s) within a time specified and an explanation of the consequences of failure to correct the violation(s).

(6)    The amount of monetary penalty for each violation.

(7)    An explanation of how the penalty shall be paid and directing that it be made payable to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, the time period within which it shall be paid, and the address at which the penalty payment shall be remitted or mailed.

(8)    A statement regarding the right to appeal the administrative citation, including the time within which the appeal must be filed, the place to obtain a notice of appeal and request for administrative citation appeal hearing form.

(9)    The name and signature of the officer issuing the administrative citation and, if possible, the signature of the owner or responsible party acknowledging receipt of the citation.

(10)    A single administrative citation may charge a violation for one or more days on which a violation exists, and for the violation of one or more provisions of this title. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.060 Service of administrative citations.

The Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee shall issue any required notice to the owner or responsible party of the violation in the following manner:

(A)    Personal Service. The Animal Shelter General Manager, or his/her designee, shall attempt to locate and personally serve the owner or responsible party and, if possible, obtain the signature of the owner or responsible party on the administrative citation. If the owner or responsible party served refuses or fails to sign the citation, the failure or refusal to sign shall not affect the validity of the citation or subsequent proceedings and the Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee shall make service of the citation as otherwise provided herein.

(B)    Mail. If for any reason the Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee is unable to personally serve the citation on the owner or responsible party, the citation shall be mailed to the owner or responsible party by first class mail, postage prepaid, with a declaration of service under penalty of perjury. The declaration of service shall be made by the person mailing the citation showing the date and manner of service by mail and reciting the name and address of the citation addressee. The failure of any owner, responsible party, or person with an interest in the animal, where applicable, to receive a properly addressed citation shall not affect the validity of any proceeding under this chapter. Service of the citation in the manner described above shall be effective on the date of mailing.

(C)    Posting of Citation. As an alternative to service by mail, and if the Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee is unable for any reason to personally serve the owner or responsible party, the Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee may post the citation by affixing the citation to a surface in a conspicuous location on any real property in which the owner or responsible party has a legal interest, and such posting shall be deemed effective service. Failure of a posted citation to remain in place after posting shall in no way affect the validity of the citation or the proceeding. Service shall be deemed effective pursuant to posting on the date that the citation is actually posted.

(D)    The failure of any owner or responsible party to receive any notice served in accordance with this section will not affect the validity of any proceedings taken under this chapter when the owner or responsible party has actual notice of these proceedings. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.070 Opportunity to correct violation.

Upon the issuance of an administrative citation that has been served upon an owner or responsible party, the owner or responsible party shall be allowed seven days to correct or remedy the violation(s), except 30 days are allowed to correct a spay/neuter violation. If the owner or responsible party properly corrects the violation(s), he or she shall not be assessed an administrative penalty. If the owner or responsible party fails to correct or remedy the violation(s), administrative penalties shall be assessed from the date written upon the citation. This section shall not be construed to waive any fee or payment that would ordinarily be required pursuant to this title. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.080 Satisfaction of an administrative citation.

(A)    Upon receipt of an administrative citation, the owner or responsible party must do the following:

(1)    Pay the administrative penalty to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter; and

(2)    Demonstrate to the Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee that the violation has been corrected or remedied, if the violation(s) is of such a nature that it can be remedied. The Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee may not accept payment of an administrative penalty unless the owner or responsible party has demonstrated that the violation(s) has been corrected or remedied. If the violation(s) is corrected or remedied within the time set forth in SCCC 6.25.070, no administrative penalty shall be imposed.

(B)    If an owner or responsible party fails to properly correct or remedy a continuing violation in accordance with SCCC 6.25.070 or otherwise, the owner or responsible party shall pay the accrued administrative penalty amount to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. Penalty amounts shall continue to accrue as specified until the date the owner or responsible party satisfies the administrative citation or files a notice of appeal. Payment of an accrued penalty shall not excuse or discharge the owner’s responsibility to correct or remedy the cited violation, nor shall it bar further enforcement action by the Animal Shelter General Manager. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.090 Appeal of administrative citation.

(A)    An owner or responsible party receiving an administrative citation may contest that there was a violation of this title or that he or she is the responsible party by completing a notice of appeal and request for appeal hearing form and filing it with the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter within 10 calendar days from the date of issuance of the citation. Any appeal of the administrative citation must include a detailed written explanation of the grounds for appeal.

(B)    The filing of a notice of appeal does not stay, postpone or excuse the owner or responsible party’s duty to correct or remedy a violation. If the administrative hearing officer upholds the administrative citation, the applicable penalty shall accrue as of the date on the administrative citation.

(C)    The failure to submit a timely and complete notice of appeal shall terminate a person’s right to contest the administrative citation, result in a failure to exhaust administrative remedies and the administrative citation shall then serve as a final determination and conclusive evidence of the named owner or responsible party’s liability. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.100 Administrative hearing officers.

Duties. The Board of the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority shall provide independent contractor hearing officers to conduct administrative appeal hearings, to issue subpoenas, to receive evidence, to administer oaths, to rule on questions of law and the admissibility of evidence, to prepare a record of the proceedings, to issue enforcement orders with regard to violations of this title, and to provide for the recovery of enforcement costs, any civil penalties and any other costs of abatement as a personal obligation of the owner or responsible party violating, causing, permitting or continuing the violation(s). [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.110 Notice of administrative appeal hearing.

Upon receipt of a timely and complete notice of appeal, the Animal Shelter General Manager or his/her designee shall provide written notice of the time, date and location of a hearing before the administrative hearing officer by personal service or by first class mail, postage prepaid, including a copy of the affidavit or certificate of mailing to the owner or responsible party alleged to have violated this chapter, and to any other person known to own or possess the animal(s) which are the subject of the citation, at least 10 days prior to the date of the administrative hearing. The hearing officer shall be designated by the Animal Shelter General Manager. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.120 Administrative hearing officer disqualification.

Administrative hearing officers shall be licensed attorneys of the State Bar of California in good standing. An administrative hearing officer shall disqualify himself/herself from serving as hearing officer in a particular matter where he/she has a conflict of interest within the meaning of the Political Reform Act (Government Code Section 87100 et seq.), and shall otherwise comply with the disqualification provisions of Canon 3.E. of the Code of Judicial Ethics. The notice of hearing shall also identify the administrative hearing officer designated to conduct the hearing and advise the recipient(s) of their right to submit within 10 business days of the date of the notice of hearing a written objection to the designated hearing officer. In the event of such a disqualification, a new administrative hearing officer shall be randomly selected from the panel of alternate hearing officers established by the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority. Each party shall only have the right to disqualify one administrative hearing officer for a particular matter. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.130 Hearing procedures.

(A)    Requirements for Taking Testimony. In any appeal hearing before an administrative hearing officer, oral testimony offered as evidence shall be taken only on oath or affirmation, and the hearing officer, his/her clerk, or other designee shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations. Oaths of witnesses may be given individually or en masse. Witnesses shall be asked to raise their right hands and to swear or affirm that the testimony they shall give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

(B)    The owner, agent, persons responsible for the violation and appealing the administrative citation shall be given the opportunity to testify and present witnesses and evidence concerning the alleged violation(s).

(C)    The administrative hearing officer may impose conditions and deadlines for correction of violations or payment of outstanding penalties.

(D)    The failure of the owner or responsible party who receives an administrative citation to appear at the administrative appeal hearing or, in the alternative, to present written or demonstrative evidence shall constitute an admission of the violation by that owner or responsible party and an admission that the amount of the civil penalty is appropriate and shall also constitute a failure to exhaust administrative remedies that may bar judicial review.

(E)    The administrative citation and any additional documents submitted by the Animal Shelter General Manager, or his/her designee, shall constitute prima facie evidence of the respective facts contained in those documents.

(F)    The administrative hearing officer shall only consider evidence relevant to whether the violation(s) occurred and whether the owner or responsible party has caused, maintained, or allowed the violation(s) of this title that was subject to the citation.

(G)    The administrative hearing officer shall not be required to provide transcripts of hearings, but shall be required to tape record the hearings and make the recordings of the hearings available for a fee.

(H)    Continuances. The administrative hearing officer may continue the administrative hearing for good cause as determined by the administrative hearing officer.

(I)    Administrative Interpretations. In conducting the hearing, the administrative hearing officer shall consider as controlling the previously established interpretation of any provision of this title by the officials charged with its enforcement unless that interpretation is shown to be clearly erroneous or unauthorized.

(J)    Administrative Hearing Officer Decisions. At the conclusion of the administrative hearing held on the alleged violation(s), the administrative hearing officer shall have the authority, subject to the limitations set forth in this chapter, to render a decision, supported by written findings, which:

(1)    Determines whether the owner or responsible party has committed, maintained or permitted the alleged violation(s) of this chapter.

(2)    Orders the payment of the total verified amount of the enforcement costs and other abatement costs by any such owner or responsible party found to have committed or permitted the violation(s).

(3)    Orders the payment of civil penalties to be paid by any such owner or responsible party found to have committed or permitted the violation(s).

(4)    Orders action to be taken to correct any violation(s) by any such owner or responsible party found to have committed or permitted the violation(s).

(5)    Determines whether any enforcement costs, other abatement costs, and civil penalties are to be the personal obligation of the owner or responsible party committing or permitting the violation(s).

(6)    In determining the amount of civil penalties to be assessed against any owner or responsible party violating a provision of this chapter, which would otherwise be an infraction or a misdemeanor, the administrative hearing officer shall take into consideration the following:

(a)    The extent to which the owner or responsible party knowingly and willingly committed the violation(s);

(b)    The magnitude of the violation(s);

(c)    Any prior history of related violation(s) by the same owner or responsible party;

(d)    The financial ability of the owner or responsible party to pay based on submitted documentation;

(e)    Any corrective action voluntarily undertaken by the owner or responsible party prior to the hearing to eliminate the violation(s) and any other mitigating circumstances justifying a reduction of the amount of the penalties.

(7)    The decision of the administrative hearing officer shall be final when issued in writing and shall be thereafter immediately enforceable. The decision of the administrative hearing officer shall include a statement of the judicial appeal rights of any party to the proceeding as set forth in subsection (J)(8) of this section.

(8)    The decision of the administrative hearing officer shall be subject to judicial review pursuant to the provisions of California Government Code Section 53069.4. Pursuant to Section 53069.4 a notice of appeal must be filed with the Santa Cruz County Superior Court Clerk, together with the applicable appeal fee, within 20 days after service of the administrative hearing officer’s decision by first class mail, postage prepaid, including a copy of the affidavit or certificate of mailing. Any person filing a Superior Court appeal shall serve a copy of the notice of appeal in person or by first class mail on the administrative hearing officer with a copy to the Animal Shelter General Manager. Within 15 days of the Superior Court’s request, the administrative hearing officer shall forward to the court the file of the hearing together with the subject notice of violation, the notice of administrative appeal hearing before an administrative hearing officer, and the decision of the administrative hearing officer. If a Superior Court appeal is not timely filed in accordance with this subsection, all persons shall thereafter be barred from commencing or prosecuting any such action or proceeding concerning the underlying violation or asserting any defense of invalidity or unreasonableness of the administrative hearing officer’s decision, proceedings, determinations or actions taken in connection therewith.

(9)    The administrative hearing officer shall submit the decision to the Animal Shelter General Manager.

(10)    The County counsel upon receipt of a final decision of an administrative hearing officer which orders payment of civil penalties or payment of enforcement costs or other abatement costs, or upon obtaining authorization from the Board of the County Animal Services Authority, may, in addition to any other collection procedures provided by this chapter, prepare and file a civil action on behalf of the County Animal Services Authority and County Animal Shelter in any court of competent jurisdiction to obtain compliance with the administrative decision, SCCC Title 6 regulations, and recover the civil penalties and costs of enforcement provided by this chapter and for injunctive relief or any other available legal remedy. In addition, the Animal Shelter General Manager, or his or her designee, may prepare and file small claims actions in this regard or pursue collection by any available legal remedy.

(11)    In the event a civil action is initiated to obtain enforcement of the decision of the administrative hearing officer, and judgment is entered to enforce the decision, the person against whom the order of enforcement has been entered shall be liable to pay the County’s total costs of enforcement, including reasonable attorney fees.

(12)    The remedies and civil penalties provided for in this chapter shall be in addition to any other remedies and penalties provided for by law. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.140 Penalties and costs assessed.

(A)    The Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority may establish a civil penalty schedule setting forth the penalty to be assessed by an administrative citation for violation of a particular provision of this title in accordance with California Government Code Section 53069.4(a)(1) and may, in connection therewith, also authorize the reductions specified therein for timely payment.

(B)    If the animal owner or responsible party fails to correct the violation(s), subsequent administrative citations may be issued for the same continuing violation(s). The amount of the penalty shall increase at a rate specified in subsection (C) of this section or the civil penalty schedule provided for in subsection (A) of this section.

(C)    Except as otherwise provided by subsection (D) of this section, the civil penalty assessed by administrative citation for violation of a provision of this title shall be as follows:

(1)    First administrative citation—$100.00;

(2)    Second administrative citation within one year for violation of the same code section—$200.00;

(3)    Third or subsequent administrative citation within one year for violation of the same code section—$500.00.

(D)    The civil penalty assessed by the administrative citation for the following violations shall be as set forth below:

(1)    Failure to display license (each dog): $50.00.

(2)    Dog off leash, first offense: $50.00.

(3)    Dog off leash, second offense within one year: $100.00.

(4)    Dog off leash, third offense within one year: $150.00.

(5)    Failure of owner to pick up after dog or cat defecating: $100.00.

(6)    Habitual noisy animals (SCCC 6.12.090): $100.00.

(7)    Permitting livestock to trespass, per offense: $200.00.

(E)    Payment of the civil penalty shall not excuse the failure to correct the violation nor shall it bar further enforcement action by the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority or the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. All assessed penalties and enforcement costs assessed shall be payable to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

(F)    Penalties collected in the manner described in this section may be deposited in an animal shelter fund or other appropriate designated account. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.150 Failure to pay civil penalties.

(A)    Any person who fails to pay a civil penalty imposed pursuant to this chapter shall owe a debt to the Santa Cruz Animal Services Authority. To enforce the debt the Animal Shelter General Manager may file a claim with the small claims court, or pursue any other legal remedy to collect the amount owed.

(B)    Any person who fails to pay any civil penalty imposed pursuant to this chapter on or before the penalty payment due date shall also be liable in any action brought by the Santa Cruz Animal Services Authority and/or the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter for all costs incurred in securing payment of the delinquent amount, including, but not limited to, administrative costs and attorney fees. Such collection costs are in addition to any required costs, penalties, interest and late charges.

(C)    In addition to all of the procedures set forth in this section, the Animal Shelter General Manager shall have the ability and discretion to impose necessary conditions, to forgive portions of a debt or penalty owed to the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority under this chapter, and to otherwise coordinate collection and enforcement efforts. A written finding explaining the basis for each action taken pursuant to this subsection shall be prepared and maintained by the General Manager, or his or her designee. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.160 Severability.

If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are declared to be severable. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].

6.25.170 Civil or criminal actions not affected.

Any administrative citation pursuant to this chapter shall not prejudice or adversely affect any other action, civil or criminal, that may be brought to abate a public nuisance or violation or prevent the County from seeking compensation for damages suffered. A civil or criminal action may be brought concurrently with any other process regarding the same public nuisance or violation. [Ord. 5137 § 1, 2012].