Chapter 1.14
NUISANCE ABATEMENT

Sections:

1.14.010    Order for abatement—When issued—Duration.

1.14.020    Order for abatement—Appeal.

1.14.025    Summary abatement.

1.14.030    Abatement performed by County—When authorized.

1.14.040    Abatement—Report and costs.

1.14.050    Hearing on report—Assessment of costs.

1.14.060    Service of orders or notices.

1.14.070    Rescheduling or continuing hearings.

1.14.080    Court action—Time limit.

    Prior history: Ords. 1794, 2025, 2165 and 2250; prior code §§ 1.08.060(a), (f), (g) and (h).

1.14.010 Order for abatement—When issued—Duration.

(A)    Whenever a County department head or designee with responsibility to enforce any of the provisions of this code determines that a nuisance exists as a result of a violation of any of the provisions of this code, he may issue a written order requiring that the conditions constituting the nuisance be abated within a period of 10 days thereafter. He shall forthwith serve the order on the person maintaining such conditions, or the person occupying any premises on which the conditions are found to exist. If no person is occupying the premises, the order shall be posted upon the premises in a conspicuous place, and a copy shall be mailed to the owners of the premises as their names and addresses appear upon the last equalized assessment roll.

(B)    An order for abatement shall continue in full force and effect until modified or rescinded by the County department head or designee issuing same, or until modified, vacated or superseded by order of the County’s Hearing Officer, after hearing, as provided in this chapter. The time specified in the order may be extended for good cause by written order of the issuing County department head or designee. The order shall advise the person served of his right to appeal to the County Hearings Officer, and that order will be stayed pending such appeal. The order for abatement shall also identify the Hearing Officer designated to conduct the hearing and advise the recipient(s) of the notice of their right to submit within 10 business days of the date of the order for abatement a writing rejecting the designated Hearing Officer. Hearing officers shall be licensed attorneys of the State Bar of California in good standing. A Hearing Officer shall disqualify himself or 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 Sections 87100 et seq.), and shall otherwise comply with the disqualification provisions of Canon 3.E. of the Code of Judicial Ethics. In the event of such a disqualification, a new Hearing Officer shall be randomly selected from the panel of alternate Hearing Officers established by the Board of Supervisors. Each party shall only have the right to disqualify one Hearing Officer for a particular matter. In any proceeding before a 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 have the power to administer oaths and affirmations and to certify to official acts. 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. [Ord. 4695 § 5, 2002; Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.020 Order for abatement—Appeal.

(A)    Any person ordered to abate a nuisance pursuant to SCCC 1.14.010 may, within 10 days after receipt of the written order, file an appeal to the County’s Hearing Officer, with the County department head or designee issuing the order, who shall in turn convey it to the Hearing Officer. The appeal shall be in writing and accompanied by the filing fee established by resolution of the Board, and shall specify the grounds upon which the appeal is taken.

(B)    Upon receipt of the appeal, the Hearing Officer shall set the matter for hearing not less than 10 nor more than 60 days after the date the appeal was received by the clerk. The filing of such an appeal shall stay the effect of the order for abatement until the Hearing Officer hears the appeal and issues an order modifying, vacating or affirming the order for abatement. Written notice of the time and place of hearing shall be given to the appellant at least five days prior to the date set for the hearing. [Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.025 Summary abatement.

(A)    Whenever a County department head or designee with responsibility to enforce any of the provisions of this code determines that a nuisance exists as a result of a violation of any such provision which poses an immediate threat to the public health or safety, the County department head or designee may order the summary abatement of the nuisance in accordance with this section. Upon determining that there is such a nuisance condition posing an immediate threat to the public health or safety, the County department head or designee may issue a written order requiring that the condition be abated within 48 consecutive hours from the time the person maintaining the condition or occupying the premises on which it exists is personally served with a written order to abate such condition. If the person occupying the property is not the owner, the County department head or designee shall also give oral or written notification of the abatement order to the owner of the property as soon as possible.

(B)    An order to abate a nuisance condition pursuant to this section shall continue in full force and effect until rescinded by the County department head or designee or vacated or superseded by an order of the County Hearing Officer made after a hearing before the Hearing Officer. The order to abate shall advise the person served of his right to file an appeal to the Hearing Officer as provided in this section.

(C)    Whenever an order to abate a nuisance condition is to be issued by a County department head or designee pursuant to this section, the County department head or designee shall contact the Hearing Officer to obtain a time for a hearing in the event a timely appeal is filed, and shall thereafter transmit to the Hearing Officer a copy of the order and the County department head or designee’s written report concerning the condition. The hearing shall be scheduled to be held within 12 business hours after the expiration of the period for appeal provided by this section, which hearing shall be held as scheduled if an appeal is filed, and canceled if an appeal is not filed. The order to abate a nuisance condition shall advise the person of his or her right to appeal, shall notify said person of the time and place of the hearing scheduled on this matter before the Hearing Officer if an appeal is filed and of said person’s right to be present, and to present evidence to the Hearing Officer.

(D)    Any person maintaining the condition or occupying or owning the premises whereon said condition exists may appeal to the County’s Hearing Officer within 48 consecutive hours after personal service of the order of abatement on the person maintaining the condition or occupying the premises whereon the condition exists. If the 48-hour period expires on a day when County offices are closed, the time within which to file an appeal shall be extended until 5:00 p.m. of the next day County offices are open. The right of appeal may be exercised by notifying the County department head or designee, who issued the order or abatement, either verbally or in writing, that a hearing is desired. Such appeal shall stay the effect of such order until the Hearing Officer hears and decides the appeal, but such stay of the order of abatement shall not relieve any person from any other civil or criminal liability and responsibility for maintaining a nuisance or violation of this code.

(E)    If an appeal is taken, the Hearing Officer shall meet pursuant to a notice given by the County department head or designee. The Hearing Officer shall review the evidence presented by the County department head or designee, and any evidence presented by the appellant, and shall thereafter affirm, modify or vacate the order. In addition, the Hearing Officer shall determine whether to authorize the County department head or designee to abate a nuisance condition in the event that there is a failure to comply with an order, as affirmed or modified. [Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.030 Abatement performed by County—When authorized.

In the event that a nuisance is not abated in accordance with the County department head or designee’s order of abatement or the order of the Hearing Officer, if any, the County department head or designee may proceed to abate the nuisance by force account, contract, or any other method deemed most expedient by the County department head or designee, subject to such budgetary controls as established by the Board of Supervisors. [Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.040 Abatement—Report and costs.

When an abatement is completed, the County officer shall prepare and file with the Hearing Officer a report specifying the work done, the total abatement costs, including but not limited to the itemized and total cost of the work, including the administrative and enforcement costs incurred by the County, and attorneys’ fees, if applicable, a description of the real property upon which the nuisance is or was located, and the names and addresses of the record owner, the holder of any mortgage or deed of trust of record, and any other person known to have a legal interest in the property. Attorneys’ fees may be recovered if the County elects, at the initiation of the action or proceeding, to seek recovery of its own attorneys’ fees. If the County so elects, attorneys’ fees will be recovered by the prevailing party. In no action or proceeding shall an award of attorneys’ fees exceed the amount of reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by the County in the action or proceeding. [Ord. 5147 § 2, 2013; Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.050 Hearing on report—Assessment of costs.

The Hearing Officer shall hold a hearing on the report and any protest or objections thereto, and notice of the hearing shall be given to the persons with a legal interest in the property at least 10 days prior to the date set for the hearing. The Hearing Officer shall determine at the conclusion of the hearing the proper charge, if any, assessed for the work. The Hearing Officer shall determine whether any enforcement cost and cost for abatement work are to be made a special assessment against the property on which the violation(s) occurred and collected on the secured tax roll, or are to be the personal obligation of the person committing or permitting the violation and collected on the unsecured tax roll. The Hearing Officer shall submit the decision to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. If such costs are not paid within 21 days of the decision by the Hearing Officer, the Planning Director shall cause to be recorded in the County Recorder’s Office a notice of special assessment lien. Upon recordation of a notice of special assessment lien, the assessment lien shall be attached to the property. Each such assessment lien shall be subordinate to all existing special assessment liens previously imposed upon such property and paramount to all other liens except those for State, County and municipal taxes with which it shall be upon parity. The lien shall continue until the amount of the lien and all interest and penalties due and payable thereon are paid. Such assessment shall be collected at the same time and in the same manner as County taxes are collected, and shall be subject to the same penalties and the same procedure and sale in case of delinquency as is provided for ordinary County taxes. All laws applicable to the levy, collection and enforcement of County taxes shall be applicable to such special assessment. In the event the costs of abatement exceed the value of the property to which the assessment lien attached, such excess costs shall be the personal obligation of the owner of the property. [Ord. 4466 § 1, 1997; Ord. 4447 § 1, 1997; Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.060 Service of orders or notices.

Except as provided in SCCC 1.14.025 for summary abatements, each notice or order to be given or made under this chapter shall be served upon the person occupying the premises upon which the nuisance exists, or, if no person occupies the premises, the notice or order shall be posted upon the premises in a conspicuous place, and, in addition, a copy of the notice or order shall be served on the property owner of the premises. Service of each notice or order shall be made upon all persons entitled thereto, either personally or by mailing a copy of the notice or order by certified mail, postage prepaid, return receipt requested, to each such person at his address as it appears on the last equalized assessment roll of the County, or as known to the County department head or designee. If no address of any such person so appears or is known to the County department head or designee, then a copy of the notice or order shall be so mailed, addressed to such person at the address of the premises. The failure of any such person to receive such notice or order shall not affect the validity of any proceeding taken under this chapter. Service by certified mail in the manner herein provided shall be effective on the date of the mailing. [Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.070 Rescheduling or continuing hearings.

The Hearing Officer may reschedule or continue any proceeding under this chapter if necessary to ensure that the parties are afforded due process. [Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994].

1.14.080 Court action—Time limit.

Any court action or proceeding to attack, review, set aside, void or annul any decision made by the Hearing Officer under this chapter, or concerning any of the proceedings, acts or determinations taken, done or made prior to such decision, shall not be maintained by any person unless such action or proceeding is commenced within the time period set forth in SCCC 1.04.170. Thereafter, all persons are barred from maintaining any such action or proceeding, or asserting any defense of invalidity or unreasonableness of the Hearing Officer’s decision, proceedings, acts or determination. [Ord. 4330 § 1, 1994; Ord. 4251 § 1, 1993].