Chapter 4. Penalty Provisions

Sec. 1-4.01 Violation a Misdemeanor or Infraction; Public Nuisances.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to violate any of the provisions or to fail to comply with any of the requirements of this Code. Every act prohibited or declared unlawful and every failure to perform an act required by this Code is a misdemeanor unless specifically specified as an infraction in this Code. Every person convicted of a misdemeanor for a violation of this Code shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not longer than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment (unless this Code or State statute specifically provides otherwise).

(b) Every person convicted of an infraction for a violation of this Code shall be punished upon a first conviction by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.00) and for a second conviction for the same offense within a period of one (1) year by a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200.00), and for a third or any subsequent conviction for the same offense within a period of one (1) year by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) (unless this Code or State statute specifically provides otherwise). Any person violating this Code or causing or permitting a violation thereof shall be regarded as committing a separate offense on each day that the violation occurs or continues. (Ord. 499 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 375 § 1, 2002; Ord. 314 § 1, 1993: Ord. 289 Div. 1, 1990: Ord. 249 Div. 1, 1987)

Sec. 1-4.02 Administrative Citations—Procedures.

The following provisions govern the procedures relating to administrative citations:

(a) Declaration and Purpose. The Council finds and determines that there is a need for an alternative method of enforcement for minor violations of the Municipal Code. The Council further finds and declares that an appropriate method of enforcement for these types of violations is an administrative citation program. The procedures established in this Section shall be in addition to criminal, civil or any other legal remedy established by law which may be pursued to address violations of this Municipal Code.

(b) Every violation of a provision of this Code, the penalty for which is defined as an “infraction” or “misdemeanor,” shall be subject to an administrative fine. The provisions of this Section are in addition to all other legal remedies, criminal or civil, which may be pursued by the City and nothing shall prevent the City from initiating civil, criminal or other legal or equitable proceedings as an alternative to the proceedings set forth in this Section, or abating a nuisance and recovering the costs of abatement.

(c) The administrative citation shall state the fine imposed by the City as a result of the violation. If the violation pertains to building, plumbing, electrical, or other similar structural or zoning issues that do not create an immediate danger to health or safety, the citation shall provide for a reasonable period of time to correct the violation prior to the imposition of an administrative fine. Said reasonable period of time shall be at least five (5) days, but not more than forty-five (45) days, unless the Enforcement Officer finds that a greater length of time for compliance is necessary. The Enforcement Officer may also provide for the same reasonable period of time to correct other types of violations.

(d) Contents of an Administrative Citation. Each administrative citation issued to a person shall contain the following:

(1) The date of the violation.

(2) The address or a legal description of the location where the violation occurred.

(3) The section of the Code violated and a description of the violation.

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

(5) The number of days allowed to correct the violation prior to the imposition of the fine, if applicable.

(6) The amount of the fine assessed for the violation.

(7) A description of the fine payment process, including a description of the due date and the place where the fine shall be paid.

(8) An order prohibiting the continuation or repeated occurrence of the violation described in the administrative citation.

(9) A description of the administrative citation review process, including the time within which the administrative citation may be contested and where a request for hearing may be obtained.

(10) The name and signature of the Enforcement Officer.

(e) Service of the Administrative Citation. Service shall be made by:

(1) Personal service by any of the methods for service of a summons in a civil action pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 415.10; or

(2) First class mail to the address shown on the last equalized assessment roll. Service shall be complete at the time the citation is deposited into the United States mail; or

(3) If personal service or service by first class mail is not possible, service shall be provided by publishing a notice in a newspaper of general circulation and posting an eight-and-one-half (8-1/2) inch by eleven (11) inch enlargement of the administrative citation in a conspicuous location on the property.

(f) Amount of Fines. The amount of fines imposed pursuant to this Section shall not exceed the maximum amount of the fine established for an infraction in Section 1-4.01(b).

(g) Time to Pay. All fines shall be paid to the City within thirty (30) calendar days from the effective date of the administrative citation. The effective date of an administrative citation shall be the date the citation is issued, unless the Enforcement Officer granted an opportunity for the person cited to correct the violation. Where a correction period has been granted, the effective date of the administrative citation shall be on the final date of the correction period, if the person has not corrected the violation. An administrative citation fine shall be refunded if it is determined after hearing that the person charged was not the person responsible for the violation, or there was no violation as charged in the administrative citation.

(h) Methods of Collection. The City may use all available legal means to collect any past due fines imposed by administrative citations including, but not limited to, contracting with collection agencies, filing liens and seeking judgments in court.

(i) Request for Hearing.

(1) Any person issued an administrative citation may contest the issuance of the citation by filing a written request for hearing no later than fifteen (15) calendar days from the effective date of the citation. The written request shall include a detailed written explanation of the reasons for contesting the administrative citation.

(2) The person to whom an administrative citation is issued shall deposit the amount of the fine with the City Clerk at the time of the request for hearing, or request an advance deposit hardship waiver pursuant to subsection (j) of this section.

(3) The person requesting the hearing shall be notified of the time and place set for the hearing at least ten (10) calendar days prior to the date of the hearing. The hearing shall be set for a date that is not less than fifteen (15) calendar days from the date that a completed request for administrative hearing is filed in accordance with the above provisions.

(j) Advance Deposit Hardship Waivers.

(1) Any person who requests an administrative hearing and is financially unable to make the advance deposit of the fine, may file a request for an advance deposit hardship waiver by completing a form approved by the City Manager and submitting the form to the City Clerk within three (3) days after filing the request for a hearing.

(2) The City Manager, or the City Manager’s designee, may waive the requirement of an advance deposit only if the applicant submits the required advance deposit hardship waiver form and includes supporting documents demonstrating to the satisfaction of the City Manager that it would be a significant financial burden on the recipient of the administrative citation to deposit the fine prior to the hearing. The City Clerk shall serve written notice of the City Manager’s determination on the recipient of the administrative citation by first class mail, return receipt requested. Service shall be deemed complete at the time the notice is deposited into the mail and addressed to the person at the address indicated on the hearing request form. Personal service may also be used.

(3) If an advance deposit hardship waiver is not granted, the recipient of the administrative citation shall deposit the fine with the City Clerk within five (5) days of service of the decision, or at least twenty-four (24) hours before the hearing, whichever is sooner.

(k) Appointment of Hearing Officer. The City Manager shall designate a fair and impartial Hearing Officer for the administrative citation hearings.

(l) Hearing Procedure.

(1) All hearings shall be held before the Hearing Officer.

(2) Failure of the party contesting the administrative citation to appear at the hearing shall constitute forfeiture of the fine and a failure to exhaust administrative remedies.

(3) The administrative citation and any additional report submitted by the Enforcement Officer shall constitute prima facie evidence of the violation. The Enforcement Officer may present additional evidence at the hearing.

(4) At the hearing, the person contesting the administrative citation shall be given the opportunity to testify and present evidence concerning the administrative citation. Both parties may question the witnesses.

(5) The Hearing Officer may continue the hearing from time to time and provide the person contesting the administrative citation with additional time to remedy the violation. In addition, the Hearing Officer may request additional information or evidence from the Enforcement Officer or the recipient of the administrative citation prior to issuing a written decision.

(6) All hearings shall be recorded by a video or audio device, unless the City decides to utilize a court reporter. If a court reporter is not utilized, the City is not required to provide a transcription of the hearing, but shall make the video or audio recording available to the person cited within thirty (30) days after the hearing. The City may charge a reasonable fee for reproducing the recording. If a court reporter is utilized, the recipient of the administrative citation may obtain a copy of the transcript upon payment of any applicable reasonable fees or costs. The City may destroy such recordings or transcripts after all appeals of the administrative citation are exhausted and in accordance with the City’s Records Retention Policy.

(7) The hearing need not be conducted in accordance with technical rules of evidence. Any relevant evidence shall be admitted if it is the type on which reasonable persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule that might consider such admission improper in a civil action. Oral evidence shall be taken only on oath or affirmation. Irrelevant or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.

(8) After considering all of the testimonies and evidence submitted at the hearing, the Hearing Officer shall issue a written decision to affirm or cancel the administrative citation. The written decision shall include the Hearing Officer’s findings and information regarding the recipient’s appeal rights to the Superior Court. The recipient of the administrative citation shall be served with a copy of the Hearing Officer’s written decision by first class mail, or by personal service. The decision of the Hearing Officer shall be the City’s final administrative decision.

(9) If the Hearing Officer determines that the administrative citation should be affirmed, the fine on deposit with the City shall be retained. In addition, the Hearing Officer shall assess the cost of holding the hearing to the violator, and order the violator to pay the hearing costs to the City within thirty (30) days.

(10) 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 and the cost of the hearing.

(11) If the Hearing Officer determines that the evidence presented does not support the issuance of the administrative citation, the fine shall be deemed null and void and the City shall, within thirty (30) calendar days, refund the amount of the fine. In addition, the City shall not assess hearing costs.

(m) Right to Judicial Review. A person aggrieved by the administrative decision of a Hearing Officer may file an appeal with the Contra Costa County Superior Court within twenty (20) days of the service of the Hearing Officer’s decision, in accordance with the provisions in California Government Code Section 53069.4. (Ord. 499 § 1 (part), 2016)

Sec. 1-4.03 Arrest Authority of Officers and Employees.

The City Manager, the Finance Director, the City Clerk, the Planning Director, the Public Works Director, the City Engineer, the Parks and Recreation Director, the Building Official, and their designees, shall have the authority as public officers or employees to arrest without warrant another person when such officers or employees have reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has, in their presence, violated any provision of this Code, violation of which is a public offense. (Ord. 499 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 249 Div. 2, 1987. Formerly 1-4.02)