Chapter 1.30
ADMINISTRATIVE NOTICE AND ORDER PROCEEDINGS

Sections:

Article I. Purpose and Authority for Administrative Notice and Order Proceedings – Definitions

1.30.100    General enforcement authority for this chapter.

1.30.110    Violations of an ordinance subject to an administrative fine, remedy, or penalty.

1.30.120    Definitions.

Article II. Procedures for Administrative Notice and Order for Code Violations and Nuisances

1.30.130    Administrative notice and order.

1.30.140    Procedures after the administrative notice and order is issued – Recordation of administrative notice and order.

Article III. Administrative Hearing Procedures

1.30.150    Declaration of purpose.

1.30.160    Hearing officer.

1.30.170    Hearing procedures.

1.30.180    Hearing officer’s decision.

1.30.190    Recovery of administrative notice and order penalties and costs.

1.30.200    Limited appeal – Right to judicial review.

1.30.210    Private right of action.

Article IV. Collection of Administrative Fines and Penalties

1.30.220    Administrative hearing fund – General.

1.30.230    Maintenance of fund.

1.30.240    Filing of administrative enforcement order.

1.30.250    Repayment of administrative hearing fund.

1.30.260    Repealed.

1.30.270    Repealed.

1.30.280    Repealed.

1.30.290    Repealed.

1.30.310    Repealed.

Article I. Purpose and Authority for Administrative Notice and Order Proceedings – Definitions

1.30.100 General enforcement authority for this chapter.

This chapter is adopted pursuant to the municipal affairs provision contained in Section 7 of Article XI of the Constitution of the State of California and Government Code Section 36900 for the purpose of making any violation of this code or of any ordinance enacted by the Sonoma city council subject to administrative fines, remedies, and penalties, to set forth the procedures authorized in Government Code Section 53069.4 for the imposition, enforcement, collection, and administrative review of such fines and penalties, and to redress and enforce violations of this code that constitute public nuisances through a nuisance abatement mechanism. The purpose and intent of this chapter is to effectively enforce violations of this code committed on a continuing or ongoing basis. This chapter shall be used at the sole discretion of the city.

Whenever any provision of this code refers to the “administrative penalties” chapter, this chapter is being referenced. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.110 Violations of an ordinance subject to an administrative fine, remedy, or penalty.

This section declares that a violation of this code or of any ordinance enacted by the Sonoma city council may be subject to an administrative fine, remedy, or penalty in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The procedures are activated by an administrative notice and order, which may be used at the sole discretion of the city of Sonoma. The remedies provided by this chapter shall be in addition to and cumulative of all other remedies, criminal or civil, which may be pursued by the city of Sonoma to address any violation of its ordinances. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.120 Definitions.

A. For the purposes of this chapter, “code enforcement officer” shall mean any city of Sonoma employee or agent of the city with the authority to enforce any provision of this code or ordinance.

B. For the purposes of this chapter, “responsible party” means the person or persons responsible for the event or incident and may include any of the following regarding the property where the violation exists:

1. An owner of record;

2. A manager of the property;

3. One in charge of the premises;

4. An occupant of the premises;

5. A user.

If a responsible party is a minor, then the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the minor shall be the responsible party.

C. Notice and Method of Service. Except as otherwise set forth below, whenever a notice is required to be given under this chapter, the notice shall be served by any of the following methods:

1. Personal service; or

2. Prepaid first class United States Postal Service; or

3. Posting the notice conspicuously on or in front of the property; or

4. Printed verification of notice by electronic mail (email).

Where real property is in violation of this code, written notice shall be personally served or mailed to the property owner at the address as shown on the last equalized county assessment roll available. In addition, a copy of the notice shall be conspicuously posted at the property which is in violation of this code.

Notwithstanding the method of delivery, the failure of any person with an interest in the property to receive any notice served in accordance with this section shall not affect the validity of any proceedings taken under the Sonoma Municipal Code.

D. “Penalty” refers to the fines in a resolution adopted pursuant to SMC 1.28.030 and shall include any of the following:

1. Penalty or penalties shall include both the singular and plural form;

2. Fine or fines shall include both the singular and plural form;

3. Abatement of a nuisance or violation shall include both the singular and plural form.

E. “City manager” refers to the city manager or his or her designee.

F. The administrative costs include any and all costs incurred by the city in connection with the matter before the hearing officer including, but not limited to, costs of investigation, staffing costs incurred in preparation for the hearing and for the hearing itself, the services of the hearing officer, any abatement costs, costs for all inspections necessary to enforce the administrative notice and order or the administrative enforcement order, including attorneys’ fees.

1. Pursuant to Government Code Section 38773.5, when the action or proceeding is for the abatement of a nuisance, the prevailing party is entitled to recovery of attorneys’ fees and these fees may be included in the costs charged as administrative costs when the city prevails. An award of attorneys’ fees to a prevailing party shall not exceed the amount of reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by the city in the action or proceeding. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

Article II. Procedures for Administrative Notice and Order for Code Violations and Nuisances

1.30.130 Administrative notice and order.

A. Whenever a code enforcement officer determines that a violation of a provision of this code has occurred, the code enforcement officer may issue an administrative notice and order to the responsible party for the violation.

B. Each administrative notice and order shall contain the following elements:

1. The date of the violation or, if the date of the violation is unknown, the date the violation is identified;

2. The address or a definite description of the location where the violation occurred, such as a tax assessor parcel number (A.P.N.);

3. The section of this code that the responsible party has violated and a description of how the responsible party has violated the section;

4. A description of the action necessary to correct the violation and a reasonable time designated to correct the violation prior to the imposition of penalties;

5. The amount of the penalty for the code violation;

6. An explanation of how the penalty shall be paid, the time period in which it shall be paid, and the consequences of failure to pay the penalty;

7. An order prohibiting the continuation or repeated occurrence of the code violation described within administrative notice and order;

8. A description of the administrative review procedures. The description shall include the time, date and place of the hearing, which shall be at least 10 days after the date of the administrative notice and order. The description shall also state that the purpose of the hearing will be to make a determination on the existence of the violation(s) and public nuisance and on the adoption of an administrative order, including imposition of civil penalties and administrative costs under this chapter;

9. The name, date, and signature of the code enforcement officer;

10. A statement that any violation of this code is deemed to constitute a public nuisance, which if not corrected or abated as required under this notice and order may be found to exist and ordered to be abated after a public hearing, with abatement and related administrative costs being imposed on the responsible person and/or property owner, and collected judicially, or by special assessment or tax collection, as provided under this chapter.

C. For a continuing violation of this code pertaining to building, plumbing, electrical, or other similar structural or zoning issues, that do not create an immediate danger to health or safety, the code enforcement officer shall serve a correction notice on the person responsible for the violation containing the following information:

1. The date the violation was observed;

2. The address or a description of the location where the violation was observed;

3. The section of this code violated and a description of the violation;

4. A date not less than 10 days and not more than 90 days from the date of the notice constituting a reasonable time by which the violation is to be corrected or remedied;

5. The statement that failure to correct or remedy the violation by the date established will result in proceedings being commenced under this chapter; and

6. The name and signature of the enforcement officer issuing the correction notice. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.140 Procedures after the administrative notice and order is issued – Recordation of administrative notice and order.

If the responsible party does not comply with the order within a reasonable time, the code enforcement officer may file in the office of the county recorder a certificate describing the property and certifying the following:

A. That the building, structure, or property is in violation of this code or of an uncodified ordinance adopted by the city council;

B. That the owner has been so notified.

This certificate may be filed either prior to the administrative hearing designated in the administrative notice and order, or prior to any continuance thereof, or within a reasonable time following the filing of the administrative enforcement order as that term is defined in SMC 1.30.180.

Whenever the corrections ordered in the administrative notice and order shall thereafter have been completed or the building, structure, or property has been repaired, demolished, or removed so that it no longer exists as a violation thereof, the code enforcement officer shall, at his sole discretion, either file, or cause to be filed, with the county recorder, or, in lieu of such filing, provide to the property owner with notice, a new certificate certifying that the building, structure, or property has been brought into compliance with the administrative notice and order, or that all required corrections have been made so that the building, structure, or property conforms to the requirements contained in the administrative notice and order. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

Article III. Administrative Hearing Procedures

1.30.150 Declaration of purpose.

The purpose of the hearing is to provide a review of the administrative notice and order by a hearing officer and an opportunity to the person subject to a notice and order to object to the determination that a violation has occurred and/or that the violation has continued to exist or that a public nuisance exists. The hearing officer shall only consider evidence that is relevant to the determination of facts contained in the administrative notice and order and whether a public nuisance as defined under this code exists. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.160 Hearing officer.

A. The city manager shall appoint one or more individuals as the hearing officer for administrative hearings held pursuant to this chapter.

B. The employment, performance evaluation, compensation and benefits of the hearing officer shall not be directly or indirectly conditioned upon the amount of administrative notice and order penalties upheld by the hearing officer.

C. The hearing officer shall not be a city employee or an appointed city official. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.170 Hearing procedures.

A. Administrative hearings are intended to be informal in nature. Formal rules of evidence and discovery need not apply. The city manager or his/her designees may from time to time adopt procedure, and format, for the administrative hearing.

B. The city bears the burden of proof at an administrative hearing to establish the existence of a violation of the Sonoma Municipal Code.

C. The burden of proof in an administrative hearing is to be supported by a preponderance of the evidence.

D. The hearing officer shall hear and consider all relevant evidence, including but not limited to applicable staff reports, oral, physical, and documentary evidence regarding the alleged violation, proposed method of abatement, and the administrative costs incurred by the city.

E. Each witness, prior to testifying, shall be sworn by the hearing officer or a clerk designated by the hearing officer.

F. Each party shall have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence in support of the party’s cause.

G. The failure of a responsible party named in an administrative notice and order to appear at the administrative notice and order hearing shall constitute a failure to exhaust the party’s administrative remedies.

H. On its own motion or on the motion of either party, the hearing officer may continue the hearing for good cause; provided, that notice is given to each party. The notice shall include the time, date and place to which the hearing is continued.

I. City staff has the right to withdraw any item from the administrative hearing agenda. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.180 Hearing officer’s decision.

A. After considering all of the testimony and evidence submitted at the hearing, the hearing officer shall, within 45 days, file a written decision with the code enforcement officer. The decision is to be entitled “administrative enforcement order” and shall either uphold or cancel the administrative notice and order as to each named responsible party. The decision shall list the finding in support of the decision and the imposition of the administrative fine or penalty. If the hearing officer finds that a public nuisance exists then the written decision shall also include all of the following: (1) a description of the nuisance, which if based upon a violation of this code shall identify the provision being violated; (2) factual findings and determinations supporting the decision; (3) an order to correct or abate the nuisance by a certain date, which if not complied with shall direct that the city take those steps necessary to enter onto the property and abate the nuisance at the cost of the property owner through a special assessment or lien as provided under Chapter 1.12 SMC.

B. The hearing officer shall serve the administrative enforcement order on each party; when the administrative enforcement order is served on the code enforcement officer, the order shall be final.

C. When the administrative enforcement order cancels the administrative notice and order as to a responsible party, the case shall be terminated as to that party.

D. When the administrative enforcement order upholds the administrative notice and order as to one or more responsible parties, the hearing officer shall impose and assess the prescribed fine and/or penalty against each responsible party. When the administrative enforcement order directs that the nuisance be corrected or abated it shall also impose and assess administrative costs against each responsible party. When the administrative enforcement order directs the abatement of a violation, including a nuisance, the violation may be corrected or abated as authorized within this chapter or as otherwise permitted by law.

E. The administrative enforcement order shall include notice to the responsible party that the administrative costs may become the subject of a lien against the property where the violations occurred if a nuisance is determined to exist and payment is not received within 30 days of the date of the final order. The administrative enforcement order shall also state the penalty for any late payment and that, if the violation continues, the responsible party may be subject to additional penalties authorized by law. The administrative enforcement order shall also state that fines and any penalty for late payment shall be collectible as set forth under SMC 1.28.100 and shall include a restatement of that section.

F. Failure to Commence Work. Whenever the required repair or demolition of a substandard building or structure is not commenced within 30 days after any final administrative enforcement order issued under this chapter becomes effective:

1. The code enforcement officer shall cause the building, structure, or other property described in such order to be vacated by posting at each entrance thereto a notice reading:

SUBSTANDARD BUILDING

DO NOT OCCUPY

It is a misdemeanor to occupy this building, or to remove or deface this notice.

Code Enforcement Officer

City of Sonoma.

2. No person shall occupy any building that has been posted as specified in this subsection. No person shall remove or deface any such notice so posted until the repairs, demolition, or removal ordered by the code enforcement officer has been completed and, where applicable, a certificate of occupancy issued pursuant to the provisions of the building code.

3. Code enforcement officers are authorized to enter upon any property or premises within the city to abate, repair, or demolish any building, structure, or other property pursuant to an administrative enforcement order. If an owner, occupant, or agent refuses permission to enter, inspect, abate, repair, or demolish any thing described in such order, the code enforcement officer may seek an administrative inspection warrant pursuant to the procedures provided for in California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1822.50 et seq., as may be amended from time to time.

4. The code enforcement officer may, in addition to any other remedy herein provided, cause the building, structure, or other property to be repaired to the extent necessary to correct the conditions that render the building substandard as set forth in the administrative enforcement order; or, if the administrative enforcement order required demolition or abatement, to cause the building, structure, or other property to be sold and demolished; or, to be demolished, and the materials, rubble and debris therefrom removed and the lot cleaned. Any such repair or demolition work shall be accomplished and the cost thereof paid and recovered in the manner hereinafter provided in this chapter. Any surplus realized from the sale of any such building, or from the demolition thereof, over and above the cost of demolition and of cleaning the lot shall be paid over to the person or persons lawfully entitled thereto. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.190 Recovery of administrative notice and order penalties and costs.

The city may collect any past due penalty assessed in the administrative enforcement order by all available legal means. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.200 Limited appeal – Right to judicial review.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter 1.24 SMC or California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1094.5 or 1094.6, within 20 days after service of the final administrative order or decision of the local agency is made pursuant to an ordinance enacted in accordance with California Government Code Section 53069.4 regarding the imposition, enforcement or collection of the administrative fines or penalties, any person contesting the fine in the final administrative order or decision made pursuant to this chapter may seek review by filing an appeal to be heard by the superior court. The right to appeal is limited to the terms and conditions set out in California Government Code Section 53069.4. In the event that a copy of the notice of appeal is served in person or by first-class mail upon the city of Sonoma by the contestant-appellant pursuant to the appeal to the superior court, the time for payment shall be suspended from the date of said service until the judgment of the court is final. Any finding in an administrative enforcement order that a nuisance exists and any order made within an administrative enforcement order to abate or correct the nuisance shall constitute a final, administrative determination, not be appealable, and shall be subject to judicial review in the superior court by filing with the court a petition for writ of mandate pursuant to the provisions and time limits set in Code of Civil Procedure Section 1094.6. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.210 Private right of action.

Any person, entity, association, or organization aggrieved by a willful violation of any provision of this chapter, where the owner(s) of a property has failed or refused to correct and/or abate a violation under this chapter for 40 days after the administrative enforcement order becomes final, shall have the right to file an action and/or proceeding for injunctive relief and damages against the owner(s) of such property. Any person, entity, association, or organization which prevails or is successful in any such action or proceeding shall be entitled, in addition to any other relief, to recover all reasonable costs, expenses and attorneys’ fees incurred in such action or proceeding. Treble damages also shall be awarded for such willful failure to comply with this chapter. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

Article IV. Collection of Administrative Fines and Penalties

1.30.220 Administrative hearing fund – General.

A. The city council shall establish a special revenue fund to be designated as the administrative hearing fund.

1. Revenue to the fund shall include, but is not limited to, assessments and personal obligations made pursuant to this chapter.

2. Transfers or expenditures from administrative hearing fund shall be budgeted for and approved by the city council. Reimbursements shall be budgeted for said funds to reimburse or defray the costs and expenses that may be incurred by the city in doing or causing to be done the necessary work involving one or more violations identified in an administrative notice and order or in an enforcement order.

B. When any work, including but not limited to repair, demolition, or abatement, is to be done pursuant to this chapter, the city manager, under his or her signing authority, shall cause the work to be accomplished by city personnel or by private contract, pursuant to SMC 1.08.010. Any amount in excess of the city manager’s signature authority shall be approved by the city council. Plans, specifications, and other work requirements necessary to accomplish the objectives of this chapter therefore may be prepared by or at the direction of the city manager, who may employ such labor or professional services on a contract basis as may be deemed reasonably necessary. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.230 Maintenance of fund.

The city council may at any time transfer to the administrative hearing fund, out of any money in the general fund of the city, such sums as it may deem necessary in order to expedite an administrative notice and order or an enforcement order, and any sum so transferred shall be deemed a loan to the administrative hearing fund and shall be repaid out of the proceeds of the collections hereinafter provided for. All funds collected under the proceedings hereinafter provided for shall be paid to the city of Sonoma which shall credit the same to the administrative hearing fund. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.240 Filing of administrative enforcement order.

If the responsible party does not comply with the administrative enforcement order and a public nuisance has been found to exist, the code enforcement officer may file with the county recorder a copy of the administrative enforcement order with which the responsible party has failed to comply. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.250 Repayment of administrative hearing fund.

All money recovered by payment of the fine shall be paid to the treasurer of this jurisdiction who shall credit the same to the administrative hearing fund. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005. Formerly 1.30.300).

1.30.260 Report to assessor and tax collector – Addition of assessment to tax bill.

Repealed by Ord. 03-2018. (Ord. 03-2018 § 3 (Exh. C), 2018; Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.270 Filing copy of report with county auditor.

Repealed by Ord. 03-2018. (Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.280 Priority of lien.

Repealed by Ord. 03-2018. (Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.290 Collections of assessment – Penalties for foreclosure.

Repealed by Ord. 03-2018. (Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).

1.30.310 Satisfaction of lien.

Repealed by Ord. 03-2018. (Ord. 02-2005 § 3, 2005).