Chapter 8.26


8.26.010    Findings.

8.26.020    Definitions.

8.26.030    Purpose.

8.26.040    Nonexclusive regulations.

8.26.050    Property maintenance standards and unlawful conditions.

8.26.060    Enforcement.

8.26.070    Administrative enforcement.

8.26.010 Findings.

The city council finds and determines as follows:

A. The city is interested in improving the appearance and maintenance of property in the city;

B. Areas of the city have undergone social, economic and physical deterioration;

C. This deterioration can result in community problems such as an increase in crime, trash and debris, physical deterioration of the city’s housing stock, visual blight, dying landscaping and graffiti;

D. Minimum property maintenance standards will promote the public health, safety and welfare by preventing further deterioration and the achievement of an enhancement of the physical condition of real property in the city. (Ord. 98-10 § 1, 1999)

8.26.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

“Abatement” means any action the city may take to remove or alleviate a nuisance including, but not limited to, demolition, removal, repair, cleaning, boarding and securing or replacing of property.

“Abatement notice” means a notice issued pursuant to HMC 8.08.080 or 8.26.070 requiring a responsible person to correct violations, abate a public nuisance, or take any other action as authorized or required by this code and applicable state codes.

“Across” includes along, in or upon.

“Assessment lien” means a lien recorded with the Stanislaus County recorder’s office for the purposes of collecting outstanding costs imposed as part of an enforcement cost recovery.

“Backyard” means that portion of property between the back of the building and the rear property line.

“Building” means any structure having a roof supported by columns or walls used or intended to be used for commercial or residential purposes for the shelter or enclosure of persons, animals or property.

“City” means the area within the territorial city limits of the city of Hughson and such territory outside of this city over which the city has jurisdiction or control by virtue of any constitutional provision, by contract, or any law.

“City manager” means the appointed official of the city who occupies the position as the chief administrative officer of the city.

“Council” means the city council of this city.

“County” means the county of Stanislaus.

“Debris” means the same as rubbish or refuse.

“Director” means and includes each of the directors of the following city departments: community development, public works, finance, and the police chief, and any of their designated agents or representatives within their jurisdiction.

“Firewood” means wood cut to fireplace length that has been neatly stacked.

“Front yard” means that portion of property between the street and a building, excluding any porch areas.

“Goods” includes wares and merchandise.

“Imminent health and safety hazard” means any condition which creates a present and immediate danger to life, property, health or public safety.

“Junk” means any cast-off, damaged, discarded, junked, salvaged, scrapped, worn out or wrecked object, thing or material including, but not limited to, those composed in whole or in part of asphalt, brick, carbon, cement, cardboard, plastic or other synthetic substance, fiber, glass, plaster, plaster of Paris, rubber, terra cotta, wool, cotton cloth, canvas, wood, metal, sand, organic matter (excluding compost not in public view), recyclable material, including, but not limited to, metals, glass or plastic, or other item with a redemption value, or any other item or material requiring reconditioning or rebuilding in order to be used for a new or original purpose.

“Notice and order” means a document used in abatement actions and assessment of civil penalties involving serious code violations which provides notice of municipal code, uniform code or applicable state code violations and orders a responsible person to take certain steps to correct the violations within a definitive period of time. Civil penalties may also be imposed in conjunction with this notice.

“Notice of compliance” means a document issued by a director which represents that a property has been brought into compliance with the criteria set forth under this code.

“Notice of satisfaction” means a document or form which indicates that all outstanding civil penalties and costs have either been paid in full, or that the city has negotiated an agreed amount, or that a subsequent administrative or judicial decision has resolved the outstanding debt.

“Oath” means affirmation.

“Operate” or “engage in” includes carry on, keep, conduct, maintain, or cause to be kept or maintained.

“Owner” applied to a building or land, shall include any part owner, joint owner, tenant, tenant in common, joint tenant, of the whole or a part of such building or land.

“Person,” unless it otherwise appears from the context as used, includes any person, firm, association, organization, partnership, business trust, company, corporation, public agency, school district, the state of California, its political subdivisions and/or instrumentalities thereof or any other entity which is recognized by law as the subject of rights or duties.

“Property owner” means the record owner of real property as listed on the last equalized assessment roll as maintained by the county assessor.

“Public nuisance” means any condition caused, maintained or permitted to exist which constitutes a threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare which is injurious to the senses or which significantly obstructs, injures or interferes with the reasonable or free use of property in a neighborhood, community or to any considerable number of persons. A public nuisance also has the same meaning as set forth under the California Civil Code.

“Responsible person” means a person who a director determines is responsible for causing, permitting or maintaining a public nuisance or a violation of the municipal code, uniform code or applicable state codes. The term “responsible person” includes, but is not limited to, a property owner, tenant, person with a legal interest in the property, person in possession of the property, or person that exercises custody and control over the property.

“Rubbish” means nonputrescible waste or any discarded or abandoned material, including, but not limited to, ashes, tires, glass, paper, cardboard, rugs, plastic and construction debris.

“Sale” includes any sale, exchange, barter or offer for sale.

“Shall” is mandatory and “may” is permissive. However, the use of the word “shall” is not intended and shall not impose any mandatory duty to third parties by the city, its commissions, boards, officers, agents, or employees and is not intended and shall not impose any liability on the city, its commissions, boards, officers, agents, or employees.

“Sideyard” means the area between the side of the building and the side property line.

“State” is the state of California.

“Street” includes all streets, highways, avenues, lanes, alleys, courts, places, squares, curbs, sidewalks, parkways, or other public ways in this city which have been or may hereafter be dedicated and open to public use, or such other public property so designated in any law of this state.

“Substandard properties” means any property that is maintained with any of the conditions set out in HMC Title 8, or not in accordance with applicable uniform code or codes or state laws.

“Tenant or occupant” applied to a building or land means and includes any person who occupies the whole or part of such building or land, whether alone or with others.

“Vehicle storage yard” means any location consisting of parcel(s) or lot(s) where two or more vehicles (as defined by Section 670 CVC and excluding those of historical or special interest value as defined under Sections 5004 and 5051 CVC), or vessels (as defined by Section 651 of the Harbors and Navigation Code), or combinations of both, which are disabled, under repair or restoration, and/or vehicles or vessels which are not currently registered with the State Department of Motor Vehicles are stored. For purposes of this section, a vessel and a trailer designed to carry a vessel that are used together as one unit shall count as one vehicle or vessel.

“Visual blight” means any unreasonable or unlawful condition or use of premises or of a building exterior which, by reason of its appearance as viewed at ground level from the public right-of-way or from neighboring premises, is detrimental to the surrounding area and the property of others, or is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of individuals residing within the community. (Ord. 15-09 § 6, 2015; Ord. 98-10 § 1, 1999)

8.26.030 Purpose.

The city council finds and determines as follows:

A. In adopting the ordinance codified in this chapter, one of the primary intents is to promote voluntary compliance with the minimum property maintenance standards set forth herein.

B. The city has an important interest in setting standards for the improvement of the overall appearance and maintenance of properties in the city because adequate maintenance and appearance promote property values and improve the general welfare and quality of life of its citizens.

C. There exists a need for emphasis on property maintenance and sanitation in that certain conditions, as described herein, may proliferate in different locations throughout the city. The existence of the conditions as described in this part are injurious and adverse to the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city and contribute substantially and increasingly to the deterioration and blight of residential neighborhoods, commercial areas and industrial areas. Said conditions are declared to be public nuisances and violations of this code, and constitute visual blight or result in conditions which are harmful or deleterious to the public health, safety and welfare.

D. It is appropriate to develop regulations that will promote the maintenance of property and the enhancement of the livability, community appearance, quality of life, and the social, economic and environmental conditions of the community. Such regulations shall serve to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the public by requiring a level of maintenance of property which will protect the habitability and appearance of the city, and prevent the impairment of property values which result from the neglect and deterioration of property.

E. The purpose of this chapter is to identify those conditions which are offensive or annoying to the senses, detrimental to property values and community appearance, an obstruction to or interference with the comfortable enjoyment of adjacent property, or hazardous or injurious to the health, safety or welfare of the general public in such ways as to constitute a nuisance.

F. Abatement of these conditions is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the city because maximum use and enjoyment of properties closely proximate to one another depends upon maintenance of those properties at or above a minimum standard of sightliness. The beneficial effects of maintaining standards of sightliness for property in the city include, but are not limited to, appreciation of property values, physical improvement and stability of residential and commercial areas, attraction of investors of capital, and maximum use of property for its highest and best use.

G. It is the intent of the city to impose minimum citywide standards for property maintenance.

H. These provisions are intended to exist separate and apart from any existing community standards contained in any set of covenants, conditions and restrictions, and are not intended to enforce those standards.

I. This chapter shall apply to all publicly owned property in the city, including city property, to the extent allowed by law. (Ord. 98-10 § 1, 1999)

8.26.040 Nonexclusive regulations.

The procedures set forth in this chapter constitute an alternative procedure and are nonexclusive and do not, in any manner, limit or restrict the city in the enforcement of other city ordinances or the abatement of public nuisances in any other manner provided by law. (Ord. 98-10 § 1, 1999)

8.26.050 Property maintenance standards and unlawful conditions.

It is unlawful, and a public nuisance, for any responsible person to maintain or allow to be maintained, permit or cause the property, including adjacent parkways, sidewalks or streets, to be maintained with any of the following conditions:

A. The exterior accumulation of weeds as defined in Chapter 8.08 HMC, or dirt on the property to such an extent that it constitutes visual blight.

B. The exterior accumulation of refuse, as defined in Chapter 8.12 HMC, rubbish or debris.

C. The exterior accumulation of more than 120 square feet of junk, except as otherwise provided under Chapter 17.02 HMC; provided, that no junk shall be visible from the street, sidewalk or public right-of-way.

D. Neglected or inadequately maintained landscaping, trees, hedges, lawns, shrubs, plants or other vegetation which:

1. Is dead, decayed, diseased, debris laden, weed infested, overgrown or dying as a result of physical damage, disease, pest infestation or lack of water;

2. Is overgrown as to be blighted or likely to harbor rats or vermin;

3. Could create a fire hazard or is otherwise dangerous to the public health, safety and welfare;

4. Interferes with or impedes the flow of traffic, whether vehicular or pedestrian, or obstructs visibility on streets, intersections, sidewalks, or other public rights-of-way; or

5. Creates a blighted appearance due to lack of water; provided, however, that the provision as to dead or dying vegetation due to lack of water shall not be enforced during a drought, as determined by the city. For purposes of this subsection, a lawn area shall be deemed overgrown if 50 percent or more of its area exceeds six inches in height.

E. The removal or failure to maintain in good condition any fencing required as a condition of any permit or development approval or included in the project plans or application, as approved by the city, including, but not limited to, those fences which abut major thoroughfares, sound walls or those fences required by a use permit. In addition, any required fence must be maintained consistent with and/or match the materials used when the fence was originally constructed.

F. Buildings, windows, walls, fences, trash enclosures, parking areas, or other structures, which are:

1. Significantly cracked or broken, fallen, decayed, dry rotted, warped, deteriorated, defective, defaced, in disrepair or missing components, or which either (a) threaten structural integrity, or (b) result in a dilapidated, decaying, disfigured, or partially ruined appearance to such an extent that they contribute to blight or threaten the public health, safety or welfare;

2. Fences which are leaning or listing more than 15 degrees from perpendicular or are in danger of collapse due to the elements, pest infestation, dry rot, lack of maintenance, or other damage;

3. Poorly maintained so as to become so defective, blighted, or in such condition of deterioration or disrepair that the same causes depreciation of the values of surrounding property or is materially detrimental to nearby properties and improvements.

G. The existence of indoor plumbing fixtures (including, but not limited to, toilets or sinks), appliances or furniture, excluding lawn and patio furniture.

H. Attractive nuisances dangerous to children, including, but not limited to:

1. Abandoned and broken equipment, vehicles, furniture, appliances, or neglected machinery;

2. Improperly fenced, unsanitary or otherwise hazardous pools, ponds and excavations.

I. Lumber or other building materials which have been present on the property for more than 180 days (excluding firewood that has been stacked out of public view or materials for a construction project on the property with a current valid permit), or other salvage materials (including, but not limited to, auto parts, pipe, scrap metals, tires, concrete, bricks, cans, bottles and plastic materials).

J. Broken windows or missing doors constituting blighted or hazardous conditions or which invite trespassers and malicious mischief.

K. Property otherwise maintained in such a blighted condition, or in such condition of deterioration or disrepair, that the same causes appreciable diminution of the property values of surrounding properties or is materially detrimental to proximal properties and improvements.

L. The existence of a vehicle storage yard, except as otherwise provided under Chapter 17.02 HMC.

In addition to any other remedy provided by law, the provisions of this section may be enforced in accordance with any of the procedures set forth in this code or state law. (Ord. 15-09 § 7, 2015; Ord. 98-10 § 1, 1999)

8.26.060 Enforcement.

This chapter may be enforced by the following methods:

A. Issuance of a citation for a violation of this chapter, pursuant to Chapter 1.12 HMC; and/or

B. Abatement of the public nuisance in accordance with Chapter 8.08 HMC, except that notice of violation may be given by the city manager, or his or her designee, as well as the fire chief; and/or

C. The administrative enforcement procedure set forth in HMC 8.26.070. (Ord. 98-10 § 1, 1999)

8.26.070 Administrative enforcement.

Pursuant to California Government Code Section 38773.5, the following procedure is established for abatement of violations of the chapter, which violations are declared to be public nuisances:

A. Upon discovery of any violation of this chapter, the city manager, or his or her designee, or any director, shall issue, by personal delivery, or certified mail, a notice of abatement. Such notice of abatement shall be issued to the responsible person, and, if the responsible person is not the owner of the property, to the owner of the property, as determined from the county assessor’s or county recorder’s records.

B. The notice of abatement shall state the violation(s) existing, and shall cite the applicable sections of the Hughson Municipal Code, and shall specify a date, no less than 30 days from the date of the notice of abatement, by which such violation shall be corrected. Such date shall be known as the required correction date.

C. Such notice of abatement shall also state that, if the responsible person, or property owner, shall dispute the notice of abatement, he or she may file with the city clerk a written appeal of the notice of abatement. Such appeal must be filed prior to five days before the required correction date. Failure to file a written appeal before such time constitutes a waiver of the right to any hearing before the city council.

D. If no appeal is filed, then the city manager, or his or her designee, or director shall reinspect the property on the required correction date. If the violation(s) cited has or have been corrected, then the city manager, or his or her designee, or director shall issue a notice of compliance. If the violation(s) cited have not all been corrected, then the city manager, or his or her designee, or director shall issue to the responsible person, and, if the responsible person is not the owner of the property, to the owner of the property, in the manner in subsection A of this section, a notice and order which shall refer to the previously issued abatement notice, and which shall state that, if the violation(s) are not all corrected within 10 calendar days of the date of issuance of the notice and order, the city, by city personnel or private contractor under contract to the city, may enter onto the property and correct such violation(s), and the cost thereof shall constitute a special assessment against the property unless paid by the property owner or responsible person.

E. If an appeal is filed, the city clerk shall schedule the appeal before the city council at the next regular meeting of the city council, and the required correction date shall be automatically extended until the day following the council meeting at which the appeal is heard, or the original required correction date, whichever is later. At the appeal, the city council may uphold the abatement notice, modify the abatement notice, or dismiss the abatement notice. If the abatement notice is not dismissed, the city manager, or his or her designee, or director, shall, no earlier than the day following the council meeting at which the appeal is heard, reinspect the property. If the violation(s) cited, as originally listed in the abatement notice, or as they may be modified by action of the city council, are not all corrected, the city manager, or his or her designee, shall issue a notice and demand in the manner specified in subsection D of this section.

F. If the city shall be required to correct violation(s), the cost of correcting such violation(s), which shall include city personnel costs, if city personnel are used, shall be calculated for each property for which costs are incurred. Once each calendar quarter, calculations for all such properties shall be submitted to the city council. Ten days prior to the city council meeting at which such costs are submitted, the property owner for each property for which costs are to be submitted shall be notified of the time, date and place of the city council meeting, and of his, her, or its right to appear and contest such costs. The city council, after taking testimony from staff, and from such property owners as may appear, may confirm, reduce or dismiss costs for any property.

G. If the property owner or responsible person shall fail or refuse to pay costs related to any property, as they are confirmed or modified by the city council, within five working days from the date of the council meeting at which such costs were submitted to the council, they shall become a special assessment on the property, and the city clerk shall give notice, and cause recordation, thereof, in the manner specified in Government Code Section 38773.5. (Ord. 98-10 § 1, 1999)