Chapter 1.59
ADMINISTRATIVE CITATIONS

Sections:

1.59.010    Findings.

1.59.020    Applicability and scope.

1.59.030    Definitions.

1.59.040    Issuance of administrative citation—Contents thereof.

1.59.050    Service of citation.

1.59.060    Imposition of administrative fines, late fees, interest charges, and reinspection fees—Payment and collection of fines, fees and other charges.

1.59.070    Right to an administrative hearing—Waiver of advance deposit of fine.

1.59.080    Administrative hearing—Procedures.

1.59.090    Hearing officer decision—Right of appeal therefrom.

1.59.100    Penalties.

1.59.110    Severability.

1.59.010 Findings.

A.    Enforcement of the South Gate Municipal Code and adopted ordinances throughout the city is an important public service. A program for enforcement of local codes is vital to protect public health, safety, and welfare. The establishment of a comprehensive and effective code enforcement program that is able to utilize both administrative and judicial remedies against violations of the city’s laws is best equipped to protect public health, safety, and welfare.

B.    Government Code Section 53069.4 authorizes local jurisdictions to enact legislation making a violation of any local ordinance subject to an administrative fine or penalty. The state legislature has also enacted other provisions of California law that allow local governments to impose administrative fines and/or penalties for violations of specified provisions of state law. The city council intends, pursuant to this statute, to establish an administrative citation program that:

1.    Imposes a nonjudicial administrative fine and/or penalty for offenses of the South Gate Municipal Code (including, but not limited to, any other code adopted therein) and other state laws as authorized by statute;

2.    Encourages prompt abatement or correction of prohibited conditions, uses or activities in the city;

3.    Creates deterrence against future violations of the city’s laws; and

4.    Minimizes the expense and delay where the sole remedy is to pursue responsible parties in the civil or criminal justice system.

C.    The administrative citation remedy is not intended to replace any other remedy allowed by the South Gate Municipal Code or state law. It is intended to provide an alternative and/or additional means by which the city’s laws may be enforced.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.020 Applicability and scope.

A.    Use of this chapter shall be at the sole discretion of the city and is one remedy that the city has to address violations of the South Gate Municipal Code or other applicable provisions of state law. By adopting this chapter, the city does not intend to limit its discretion or ability to utilize any administrative, civil, criminal, or other remedy available at law or equity, or any combination thereof, to address violations of the city’s laws.

B.    This chapter makes a violation of any provision, restriction, or requirement of this code or any code adopted by reference herein, any ordinance of the city, any rule or regulation promulgated pursuant thereto, any condition of any permit, license, or other entitlement issued pursuant to this code, or any other state law (as authorized by statute) subject to an administrative fine.

C.    This chapter establishes the administrative procedures for the imposition, enforcement, collection, and administrative review of administrative fines and/or penalties pursuant to Government Code Section 53069.4.

D.    An administrative fine in an amount adopted by resolution of the city council shall be imposed by means of an administrative citation issued by an enforcement officer, and shall be paid directly to the city of South Gate. Payment of a fine shall not excuse a failure to correct a violation, nor shall it bar concurrent or further enforcement actions by the city.

E.    The city manager, or a designee thereof, may dismiss a citation at any time if a determination is made that it was issued in error, in which event any deposit of a fine shall be refunded. Notice of such action shall be given to the citee in writing.

F.    The city manager, or a designee thereof, is authorized to promulgate procedural rules and regulations governing the provisions in this chapter.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.030 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following words are defined as follows:

A.    “Administrative fine” and/or “administrative penalty” shall mean the monetary sanction established by resolution of the city council that is imposed upon a responsible person by means of a citation.

B.    “Citation” shall mean an administrative citation that is issued to a responsible person pursuant to this chapter.

C.    “Citee” shall mean a responsible person to whom a citation is issued.

D.    “City” shall mean the city of South Gate, California.

E.    “City manager” shall mean the chief administrative official of the city as appointed by the city council.

F.    “Code” shall include: (i) the entire South Gate Municipal Code and any other code, rule, or regulation incorporated therein by adoption or reference, (ii) any uncodified ordinance adopted by the city council of South Gate, (iii) any rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to the provisions of the South Gate Municipal Code, (iv) any condition of any permit, license, or other entitlement issued pursuant to this code, and (v) other state laws as authorized by statute.

G.    “Enforcement officer” and “officer” shall mean any city employee or law enforcement personnel with obligations to enforce the South Gate Municipal Code.

H.    “Hearing officer” shall include a private entity, organization, association or person, or a public official, or duly constituted reviewing authority or commission that the city manager designates or appoints to consider all timely requests for an administrative hearing upon issuance of a citation.

I.    “Owner” shall mean and include any person having legal title to, or who leases, rents, occupies or has charge, control or possession of, or responsibility for, any real property in the city, including all persons shown as owners on the last equalized assessment roll of the Los Angeles County assessor’s office. Owners include persons with powers of attorney, executors of estates, trustees, or who are court appointed administrators, conservators, guardians or receivers. An owner of personal property shall be any person who has legal title, charge, control, responsibility for, or possession of such property.

J.    “Person” shall mean and include any individual, partnership of any kind, a corporation of any kind, limited liability company, association, joint venture or other organization or entity, however formed, as well as fiduciaries, trustees, heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns, or any combination of such persons. “Person” also includes any public entity or agency that acts as an owner in the city.

K.    “Property” or “premises” shall mean any real property, or improvements thereon, or portions thereof, as the case may be. “Property” includes any parkway or unimproved public easement abutting such real property. “Property” shall also include all forms of personal property or animals, where applicable.

L.    “Responsible person” shall mean any person, whether as an owner or an agent, manager, or representative of an owner, tenant or otherwise, that allows, causes, creates, maintains, suffers, or permits a violation of the code to exist or continue, by any act or the omission of any act or duty.

M.    “Violation” shall mean an act or omission of any act, or use or condition that constitutes an offense of the code, as well as a breach or violation of any condition of a permit, approval or license issued pursuant to the code.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.040 Issuance of administrative citation—Contents thereof.

A.    Whenever an officer determines that a violation of the code has occurred, the officer may issue a citation on a city-approved form imposing an administrative fine or fines to the responsible person(s) in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

B.    When the violation pertains to building, plumbing, electrical or other similar structural or zoning issues that create an immediate danger to health or safety, a citation may be issued forthwith. In the absence of an immediate danger, a citation for a violation pertaining to building, plumbing, electrical, or other similar structural or zoning issues shall not be issued pursuant to this chapter unless the responsible person has first been provided with a reasonable period, as determined by the officer, in which to complete the abatement or compliance actions.

C.    An officer may issue a citation for a violation not committed in the officer’s presence if the officer has determined, through investigation, that the citee did commit, or is otherwise responsible for, the violation.

D.    Each day, or any portion thereof, that a prohibited condition, use or activity under the code is committed, continued or permitted shall constitute a separate violation for which an administrative fine may be imposed. A single citation may charge multiple violations of the code; however, each violation is subject to a separate and distinct administrative fine.

E.    Each citation shall contain the following information:

1.    Name and mailing address of the responsible person;

2.    The address or description of the location of the violation;

3.    The date and approximate time of the commission of the violation(s), or detection thereof by an officer;

4.    The relevant provision(s) or section(s) of the code alleged to have been violated;

5.    A description of the violation(s);

6.    Amount of the fine for each violation, the procedure and place to pay the fine(s) and/or reinspection fees, and any late penalty and/or interest charge(s), if not timely paid;

7.    When appropriate, the action(s) required to correct the violation(s), and, if applicable, any deadlines or time limitations for commencing and completing such action(s);

8.    A description of the administrative citation review process and the manner by which a hearing on a citation may be obtained (including the form to be used, where it may be procured from, and the period in which a request must be made in order to be timely);

9.    The name and signature of the officer, and the signature of the citee, if he or she is physically present and will sign the citation at the time of its issuance. The refusal of a citee to sign a citation shall not affect its validity or any related subsequent proceeding, nor shall signing a citation constitute an admission that a person has committed a violation of the code;

10.    A statement that the failure to timely tender the fine(s) and other fees, costs, and/or charges imposed pursuant to this chapter may result in the recordation of a lien, a delay in the issuance or renewal of any city license, permit, and/or other collection efforts as allowed by law; and

11.    Any other information deemed necessary by the city manager.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.050 Service of citation.

A.    A citation may be served either by personal delivery to the citee or by first class mail through the United States Postal Service. The date of personal service shall constitute the issuance date of a citation.

B.    If served by first class mail, the citation shall be sealed in an envelope with postage prepaid and addressed to the citee at his or her last-known business or residence address as same appears in public records of the city, the Los Angeles County tax assessor’s office, and/or the Secretary of State. The date a citation is deposited with the United States Postal Service shall: (i) constitute its issuance date, and (ii) the date that service by certified mail shall be deemed to have been completed.

C.    If an agent, manager or representative of a responsible person is personally served with a citation, a copy thereof shall also be served by first class mail to the responsible person at his or her last-known business or residence address as same appears in public records of the city, the Los Angeles County tax assessor’s office, and/or the Secretary of State. In such instances, the date a copy of the citation is deposited with the U.S. Postal Service shall constitute the issuance date of a citation.

D.    If service cannot be accomplished personally or by mail for citations involving a real property-related violation of the code, the officer shall post the citation on the real property where the violation is alleged to have occurred. The date of posting shall constitute the issuance date of a citation.

E.    Any notice or order given pursuant to any provision of this chapter shall be served in the manner provided for in this section, unless otherwise stated.

F.    Failure of a citee to receive a citation or notice shall not invalidate any fine, late penalty charge, action or proceeding that is imposed or brought pursuant to this chapter, if service was given in a manner stated in this section.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.060 Imposition of administrative fines, late fees, interest charges, and reinspection fees—Payment and collection of fines, fees and other charges.

A.    The amounts of the fines imposed pursuant to this chapter shall be set forth in a schedule of fines established by resolution of the city council. The city council may, by resolution, also impose escalating fines in amounts it deems appropriate for repeat offenses of the same ordinance. The amounts of fines may be modified from time to time by a resolution of the city council.

B.    If a violation is otherwise classified as an infraction under the code, the administrative fine shall not exceed $100.00 for a first offense, $200.00 for a second offense of the same ordinance within a twelve month period of time, and $500.00 for a third or greater offense of the same ordinance within a twelve month period of time, as set forth in subdivision (b) of Section 25132 and subdivision (b) of Section 36900 of the California Government Code. The amounts of such fines may be modified from time to time by a resolution of the city council, provided they do not exceed the limits allowed by state law.

C.    In addition to any fine imposed pursuant to this chapter, a reinspection fee shall be assessed against any responsible person in an amount established by resolution of the city council if the responsible person does not timely and completely correct or abate a violation (with all requisite approvals, permits, licenses, and/or inspections) after having received notification from the city to correct or abate same.

D.    Failure to pay an administrative fine within the period specified on the citation shall result in the assessment of a late penalty charge. The late penalty charge shall be equal to one hundred percent of the total fine owed (excluding any reinspection fee).

E.    Failure to pay an administrative fine within sixty days of the issuance of an administrative citation or, if contested, within sixty days of an order to pay pursuant to a decision by a hearing officer or judicial officer confirming the fine, shall result in the imposition of an interest charge at a rate established by resolution of the city council. Interest shall not accrue on a late penalty charge or reinspection fee. The rate of interest may be modified from time to time by resolution of the city council.

F.    Administrative fines, reinspection fees, late penalty charges, and any interest due shall be paid to the city at such location or address as stated in the citation, or as may otherwise be designated by the city manager.

G.    The due date for the city’s receipt of an administrative fine shall be twenty calendar days from the issuance date of a citation. Thereafter, a late penalty charge shall be due and owing, as well as interest, as imposed by this chapter.

H.    Payment of an administrative fine shall not excuse or discharge a citee from the duty to immediately abate a violation of the code, nor from any other responsibility or legal consequences for a continuation or repeated occurrence(s) of a violation of the code.

I.    Abatement of a violation shall not excuse the obligation of a citee to pay an administrative fine or any other charges, fees, or costs imposed as a result of the issuance of a citation.

J.    Unpaid administrative fines and other charges, fees, or costs imposed in accordance with this chapter shall constitute a debt that may be collected in any manner allowed by law, including but not limited to the recordation of a lien (secured or unsecured) with the county recorder’s office and/or with the California Franchise Tax Board Inter-Agency Offset Program (pursuant to Section 12419.10 of the California Government Code). The city may also withhold issuance or renewal of any license, permit, or other entitlement for any property or business whenever an administrative penalty resulting from a code violation at said property or business remains unpaid. The city shall be entitled to recover its attorney fees and costs arising from an action to collect an administrative fine and other charges, fees, or costs imposed in accordance with this chapter if it is the prevailing party and provided it made the election to seek attorney fees at the commencement of the action. A citee shall be entitled to recover his or her attorney fees if the city made the election to seek attorney fees at the outset of the action and the citee prevails thereon.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.070 Right to an administrative hearing—Waiver of advance deposit of fine.

A.    Any citee may contest the violation(s), or that he or she is a responsible person, by filing a request for an administrative hearing on a city-approved form with the office of the city clerk, South Gate City Hall, 8650 California Avenue, South Gate, CA 90280 within twenty calendar days from the issuance date of a citation. If the office of the city clerk does not receive the request in the required period, the citee shall have waived the right to a hearing and the citation shall be deemed final.

B.    A request for a hearing shall contain the following:

1.    The citation number.

2.    The name, address, telephone and any facsimile numbers, of each person contesting the citation.

3.    A statement of the reason(s) why a citation is being contested.

4.    The date and signature of the citee(s).

C.    No filing fee shall be charged for the filing of a request for a hearing.

D.    Requests for a hearing shall be accompanied by an advance deposit of the entire amount of the fine stated in the citation. Failure to deposit a fine within the required period, or the tender of a nonnegotiable check in the required period, shall render a request for an administrative hearing incomplete and untimely, in which case the citee shall have waived the right to a hearing and the citation shall be deemed final. Fines that are deposited with the city shall not accrue interest. Fines deposited shall be returned to the person tendering the fines in the event a citation is overturned.

E.    A citee who is financially unable to deposit the administrative fine with his or her request for a hearing may complete a city-approved application form for an advance deposit hardship waiver (hereinafter, “hardship waiver”). This form and all required accompanying records shall be tendered, along with a request for a hearing, to the office of the city clerk, South Gate City Hall, 8650 California Avenue, South Gate, CA 90280 within twenty calendar days from the issuance date of a citation.

F.    To be considered for a hardship waiver, the application form must be complete, signed, and must be accompanied by documents that enable the city to reasonably determine the citee’s present inability to deposit the fine. Documents suitable for consideration may include, without limitation, accurate, complete and legible copies of state and federal income tax returns and all schedules for the preceding tax year, financial statements, loan applications, bank account records, income and expense records for twelve months preceding submittal of the waiver form, as well as other documentation demonstrating the citee’s financial hardship. The city may, at its sole discretion, request additional documents in order to determine a citee’s financial ability to tender an advance deposit of the fine. Failure to submit sufficient evidence of a citee’s financial inability to tender an advance deposit of the fine shall result in a denial of the hardship waiver. The city may, at a time chosen in its sole discretion and after a citation is final or confirmed, destroy or discard the documents submitted by a citee for a hardship waiver without prior notice to the citee.

G.    Failure to submit a completed, signed hardship waiver form, along with sufficient records that support a claim of financial hardship, shall render the request for hearing incomplete and untimely. In this event, the citee shall have waived the right to a hearing and the citation shall be deemed final.

H.    The city shall issue a written decision regarding the application for a hardship waiver. If the hardship waiver is denied, the written decision shall specify the reasons for not issuing the hardship waiver. This decision is final and nonappealable. The decision shall be served upon the person requesting the hardship waiver by first class mail.

1.    Approval of a hardship waiver shall result in the city setting a hearing pursuant to Section 1.59.080.

2.    If the city determines that the citee is not entitled to a hardship waiver, he or she shall tender the full amount of the administrative fine to the office of the city clerk within twenty calendar days of the date the decision is deposited with the U.S. Postal Service. In the event the city clerk does not receive the full amount of the fine in the required period (i) the request for a hearing is rendered incomplete and untimely, (ii) the citee shall have waived the right to a hearing and the citation shall be deemed final, and (iii) a late penalty charge shall be imposed upon the administrative fine.

I.    A timely request for a hearing shall not excuse a citee from the duty to immediately abate a violation of the code, nor from any other responsibility or legal consequences for a continuation or repeated occurrence(s) of a violation of the code.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.080 Administrative hearing—Procedures.

A.    An administrative appeal hearing shall be scheduled and conducted within sixty calendar days of the date a timely and complete request is received by the office of the city clerk. A citee who files a request for an administrative hearing to contest a citation (hereinafter, “appellant”) shall be notified in writing by first class mail of the date, time, and location of the hearing at least ten calendar days prior to the date of the hearing. The failure of an appellant to receive a properly addressed notice shall not invalidate the citation or any hearing or city action or proceeding conducted pursuant to this chapter.

B.    At the place and time set forth in the notification of administrative hearing, the hearing officer shall hear and consider the testimony of the issuing officer, the appellant(s), and/or their witnesses, as well as any documentary evidence presented by these persons concerning the violation(s) alleged in the citation.

C.    Administrative hearings are informal, and formal rules of evidence and discovery do not apply. The city bears the burden of proof to establish a violation and responsibility therefor by a preponderance of evidence. The issuance of an administrative citation shall constitute prima facie evidence of the violation and the enforcement officer who issued the citation is not required to attend or participate at the hearing. The appellant(s), and officer, if present, shall have an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses. An appellant may bring an interpreter to the hearing at the appellant’s sole expense. The hearing officer may question any person who presents evidence or who testifies at any hearing.

D.    An appellant may appear at the hearing in person or by written declaration executed under penalty of perjury. Said declaration and any documents in support thereof shall be tendered to and received by the office of the city clerk at least three city business days prior to the hearing. If the appellant fails to attend the scheduled hearing, or to otherwise submit a written declaration in a timely manner, the hearing officer shall cancel the hearing and send a notice thereof to the appellant(s) by first class mail to the address(es) stated on the appeal form. A cancellation of a hearing due to nonappearance of the appellant shall constitute the appellant’s waiver of the right to appeal. In such instances, the citation (and corresponding fine and other applicable fees) shall be deemed final.

E.    Hearings may be continued once at the request of an appellant or the officer who issued the citation. The hearing officer may also continue the hearing for cause.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.090 Hearing officer decision—Right of appeal therefrom.

A.    After considering all of the testimony and evidence submitted at the hearing, the hearing officer shall issue a written decision to uphold or overturn the citation and shall state the reasons therefor. If the citation is upheld and the violation has not been fully corrected as of the date of the hearing, the hearing officer shall order correction thereof in the decision and provide a deadline to complete said action(s). The decision of the hearing officer shall be final. If the citation is upheld and the appellant did not deposit the fine at the time the appellant requested an administrative appeal hearing, the hearing officer shall also order the payment of the fine (and other applicable fees and costs) as set by council resolution within twenty calendar days of the decision.

B.    The appellant(s) shall be served by first class mail with a copy of the hearing officer’s written decision. The date the decision is deposited with the U.S. Postal Service shall constitute the date of its service. The failure of an appellant to receive a properly addressed decision shall not invalidate any citation(s) or any hearing, city action or proceeding conducted pursuant to this chapter.

C.    Decisions of the hearing officer are, in accordance with Government Code Section 53069.4(b), appealable to the superior court within twenty days after the date of their service. Each decision shall contain a statement advising the appellant(s) of this appeal right and the procedures and court-filing fee for its exercise. An appellant shall serve a copy of the court filed notice of appeal on the office of the city clerk, South Gate City Hall, 8650 California Avenue, South Gate, CA 90280 by personal service or first class mail within five calendar days of filing the original thereof.

D.    If a hearing officer’s decision is not appealed in a timely manner, the decision shall be deemed confirmed.

E.    The superior court is the sole reviewing authority and an appeal from a hearing officer’s decision is not appealable to the city council. If a responsible person prevails on appeal, the city shall reimburse his or her filing fee, as well as the fine deposit in accordance with the court judgment. These monies shall be mailed to the responsible person within forty-five calendar days of the city’s receipt of a notice of judgment or ruling from the superior court clerk.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.100 Penalties.

Failure of a citee to comply with a corrective action stated in any uncontested citation, or with regard to a correction order in any hearing officer decision that is deemed confirmed and not appealed to the superior court, shall constitute a misdemeanor.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)

1.59.110 Severability.

If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or otherwise invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. The city council declares that it would have adopted this chapter, and each section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, phrases, or portions be declared invalid or unconstitutional.

(Ord. 2293 § 2 (part), 3-13-12)