Chapter 4.65


4.65.010    Findings and purpose.

4.65.020    Definitions.

4.65.030    Penalties.

4.65.040    Inspection of premises.

4.65.050    Administrative penalty procedure.

4.65.060    Commencement of proceedings.

4.65.070    Collection of administrative penalty.

4.65.010 Findings and purpose.

The city of South Lake Tahoe finds it is a responsibility of property ownership, whether a local or an out of town resident, to prevent their property from becoming a burden to the neighborhood and community as well as a threat to the public health, safety or welfare. This finding is based on the following:

A. Vacant buildings are a major cause and source of blight in both residential and nonresidential neighborhoods, especially when the owner of the building fails to actively maintain and mange the upkeep of the building.

B. Vacant or boarded buildings often attract transients and criminals, including drug users. Use of such buildings by transients and criminals, who may employ primitive cooking or heating methods, creates a risk of fire for the building and adjacent properties.

C. Vacant or boarded properties are often used as dumping grounds for junk, debris, and abandoned vehicles and are often overgrown with weeds and other vegetation.

D. Vacant buildings that are boarded up to prevent entry by transients and other long term vacancies discourage economic development and retard appreciation of property values.

E. Seasonal occupancy and out of town ownership frequently account for a majority of nuisances involving vacant or boarded buildings which are also often substandard or unkept, thus constituting public nuisances.

The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to monitor these vacant and boarded buildings and require their upkeep and ongoing maintenance so that they do not become or continue to be attractive nuisances, are not used by trespassers, are properly maintained and do not become a blighting influence in the neighborhood. City departments involved in such monitoring include the police department, the fire department, the public works department, and the planning department. (Ord. 879 § 1. Code 1997 § 17-89)

4.65.020 Definitions.

1. “Abandoned building” means a structure which has been vacated as evidenced by discontinuance of utility service and/or unmaintained, or is uninhabitable as deemed by the building official or code enforcement officer.

2. “Blight” means anything that destroys or prevents economic growth, or causes devaluation of a building or structure.

3. “Boarded building” means a structure which has been covered or closed with boards or similar material to deter entrance or secure for a specific reason or purpose.

4. “Building” means any structure as to which government agencies have regulatory power, used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy (designed or used for the support, shelter, or enclosure of persons, animals, or property of any kind).

5. “Damaged/destroyed” means buildings damaged or destroyed by fire or other similar calamity and determined to be uninhabitable by the city of South Lake Tahoe or other federal or state agency.

6. “Derelict” means an abandoned structure or other development, including foundations. Abandonment is determined without regard to intent to abandon. Evidence of abandonment includes lack of maintenance, access, utility connections, habitability or ability to function in the applicable use category which causes loss of development rights as determined by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

7. “Dwelling” means any building or portion thereof which contains living facilities, including provisions for sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.

8. “Maintenance” is the ordinary maintenance and repair, which is the upkeep, or preservation of the condition of a building both inside and out in order to keep the existing structure in a safe condition, orderly appearance and to prevent corrosion or deterioration caused by weather, age or other conditions.

9. “Multiple-family dwelling” means more than one residential dwelling unit located on a single parcel and used exclusively for residence purposes. Multiple-family dwellings may be contained in separate buildings such as two or more detached houses on a single parcel, or in a larger building on a parcel such as a duplex, a triplex, or an apartment building.

10. “Occupancy” is the purpose for which a building, or part thereof, is used or intended to be used.

11. “Owner” means any person, agent, firm or corporation having a legal or equitable interest in the property.

12. “Parcel” means an area of land or in the case of a condominium, separate space, for which boundaries have been established by some legal instrument such as a recorded map or recorded deed and which is recognized as a separate legal entity for purpose of transfer of title.

13. “Permit” means an official document or certificate issued by the building official authorizing performance of a specified activity.

14. “Rehabilitation” means upgrading existing facilities by repair, reconstruction, or modification.

15. “Repair” means the reconstruction or renewal of any part of an existing building for the purpose of its maintenance.

16. “Residential” means uses, facilities and activities primarily pertaining to the occupation of buildings on a permanent basis for living, cooking, and sleeping.

17. “Residential unit” means one or more rooms which may include one or more bedrooms, with not more than one kitchen, designed to be occupied permanently as an independent housekeeping unit by one family or one collective household with facilities for living, cooking, sleeping and eating.

18. “Shall” as used in this code is mandatory.

19. “Single-family dwelling” means one residential dwelling unit located on a parcel used exclusively for residence purposes. A single-family dwelling unit may be contained in a detached building such as a single-family house.

20. “Site” means a parcel of land bounded by a property line or a designated portion of a public right-of-way.

21. “Structural repairs” means repairs to those elements of a structure that affect the bearing capacity of the structure including without limitation, pier pilings, bracing and supports, bearing walls, rafters, foundations and base materials under asphalt or concrete.

22. “Structure” means anything constructed or built, any edifice or building of any kind, or any piece of work artificially built or composed of parts joined together in some definite manner, which requires location on the ground or is attached to something having a location on the ground.

23. “Uninhabitable structure” means a building, structure or other development determined by the building official to be unfit or unsafe for occupancy.

24. “Utility” means a public or quasi-public entity which provides gas, water, electricity, cable TV, telephone or similar services.

25. “Vacant building” means a structure with no occupant(s), and/or furnishings and may or may not be boarded up.

26. “Vacant parcel” means a parcel which is undeveloped or unimproved and has no established use. (Ord. 879 § 1. Code 1997 § 17-90)

4.65.030 Penalties.

A. The owner(s) of any boarded building, whether boarded by voluntary action of the owner or as a result of enforcement activity by the city, shall cause the boarded building to be rehabilitated for occupancy within 90 days after written notification by the city.

B. No person shall allow a building designed for human use or occupancy to stand vacant for more than 90 days, unless one of the following applies:

1. The building is the subject of an active building permit for repair or rehabilitation and the owner is progressing diligently to complete the repair or rehabilitation.

2. The building meets all codes, does not contribute to blight, is ready for occupancy, and is actively being offered for sale, lease, rent, or used as a second home.

3. The code enforcement officer or his/her designee determines that the building does not contribute to and is not likely to contribute to blight because the owner is actively maintaining and monitoring the building so that it does not contribute to blight. Active maintenance and monitoring shall include:

a. Maintenance of landscaping and plant materials in good condition.

b. Maintenance of the exterior of the building, including but not limited to paint and finishes, in good condition.

c. Regular removal of all exterior trash, debris, and graffiti.

d. Maintenance of the building in continuing compliance with all applicable codes and regulations.

e. Prevention of criminal activity on the premises, including but not limited to use and sale of controlled substances, prostitution and criminal street gang activity.

C. Any owner of a boarded building which remains boarded in violation of this section, or any owner of a building which remains vacant in violation of this section, shall be liable for an administrative penalty in the amount of $1,000 per building for the first violation. A second or subsequent administrative penalty shall be imposed upon any owner pursuant to this chapter if the building remains in violation of this chapter 90 days following the imposition of the first administrative penalty. Additional penalties may be imposed in each 90-day period following the imposition of an administrative penalty under this chapter. Additional penalties may be imposed so long as the violations continue. A second and any subsequent penalty shall be in the amount of $5,000. (Ord. 879 § 1. Code 1997 § 17-91)

4.65.040 Inspection of premises.

Each party shall have the right to rebut or explain the matters so stated by the zoning administrator either for the record during the hearing or by filing a written statement after the hearing for inclusion in the hearing record.

A. The zoning administrator may, with the owner’s consent, inspect the buildings and premises involved in the hearing prior to, during, or after the hearing, provided that:

1. Notice of such inspection shall be given to the parties before the inspection is made;

2. The parties are given an opportunity to be present during the inspection; and

3. The zoning administrator shall state for the record during the hearing, or file a written statement after the hearing for inclusion in the hearing record, upon completion of the inspection, the material facts observed and the conclusion drawn therefrom.

B. An inspection warrant or the owner(s)’ consent to inspect the building and surrounding properties is required unless such inspection can be made from areas in which the general public has access or with permission of other persons authorized to provide access to the property on which the building is located. (Ord. 879 § 1. Code 1997 § 17-92)

4.65.050 Administrative penalty procedure.

An administrative penalty shall be imposed by the designated zoning administrator upon the recommendation of the planning department staff and after the owner shall have been afforded a hearing. The hearing shall be conducted in accord with the provisions of SLTCC 4.65.060.

The administrative penalty shall be due and payable within 30 days after the decision of the zoning administrator. If the penalty is not paid within 45 days after the decision of the zoning administrator, the city council may thereupon order that the penalty be a personal obligation of the property owner or that it be specially assessed against the property involved. If the city council orders that the penalty be specially assessed against the property, it shall confirm the assessment and thereafter said assessment may be collected at the same time and in the same manner as ordinary real property taxes are collected and shall be subject to the same penalties and the same procedure and sale in case of delinquency as provided for ordinary real property taxes. All laws applicable to the levy, collection, and enforcement of real property taxes are applicable to the special assessment.

The city council may also cause a notice of lien to be recorded. The notice shall, at a minimum, identify the record owner or possessor the property and set forth the last known address of the record owner or possessor, the date on which the penalty was imposed by the zoning administrator, a description of the real property subject to the lien, and the amount of the penalty.

A. If it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the owner has violated a provision of this section, then the zoning administrator shall impose an administrative penalty pursuant to SLTCC 4.65.030 with the property owner to pay all the costs incurred. The zoning administrator may also refer this matter to the building official if further proceedings are required.

B. The decision of the zoning administrator shall be in writing, via certified mail and shall contain findings of fact and a determination of the issues presented. The decision shall inform the owner that if the administrative penalty is imposed and is not paid within the time specified, then it may be made a personal obligation of the owner, and a lien may be levied on the property for the amount of the penalty assessed and/or costs involved. (Code 1997 § 17-93)

4.65.060 Commencement of proceedings.

Whenever the code enforcement officer or his/her designee has inspected or caused to be inspected any building and has found and determined that such premises are in violation of this code, he/she shall commence proceedings for collection/assessment of an administrative penalty as provided in SLTCC 4.65.030.

A. Hearing Notice. The code enforcement officer or his/her designee shall issue a notice directed to the record owner of the premises, the holder of any mortgage or deed of trust or other lien or encumbrance of record, the owner or holder of any lease of record, and the holder of any other estate or legal interest of record in the premises. The notice shall contain:

1. The street address and such other description as is required to identify the premises.

2. A statement specifying the conditions which constitute a violation of this code.

3. An order to the owner to appear before the zoning administrator at a stated time, but in no event less than 20 calendar days after having mailed such notice, to justify why an administrative penalty should not be assessed in accordance with this code.

4. A statement advising the owner that he/she has the option of voluntarily correcting the condition(s) which violate the provisions of this code prior to the date set for hearing. If the owner chooses to correct the conditions, the corrections must be completed prior to the hearing date. The owner must advise the code enforcement officer in writing that he/she will correct the conditions and the date of completion. The code enforcement officer or his/her designee will inspect the premises on the completion date, and if the conditions have been corrected, the hearing will be taken off calendar. The owner may request a continuance of the hearing in order to comply, but in no event shall the continuance exceed 30 days.

B. The hearing notice, and any amended or supplemental notice, shall be served either by personal delivery or by certified return receipt mailing upon the record owner at his/her address as it appears on the latest assessment roll of El Dorado County, or as known to the code enforcement officer. A copy of the notice and any amended or supplemental notice shall also be posted on the building. Return of certified mail as refused or undeliverable shall be deemed proof of service.

C. At the time set for hearing, the zoning administrator shall proceed to hear the testimony of the code enforcement officer or his/her designee, the owner, and other competent persons respecting the condition of the building and other relevant facts concerning the matter. The zoning administrator may, upon request of the owner of the premises or upon request of the code enforcement officer or his/her designee, grant continuances from time to time for good cause shown, or upon his own motion. (Code 1997 § 17-94)

4.65.070 Collection of administrative penalty.

A. Any administrative penalty imposed on the owner(s) may, in addition to making it an assessment and a lien on the property, be collected in the same manner as any contractual obligation. In the event a civil action is commenced in order to collect the administrative penalty, the city of South Lake Tahoe shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs associated with collection of the penalty. Costs include, but are not limited to, staff time incurred in the collection of the penalty and those costs set forth in Code of Civil Procedure Section 1033.5.

B. An administrative penalty shall accrue interest at the same annual rate as any civil judgment. Interest shall accrue commencing on the forty-sixth day following service of the zoning administrator’s decision. (Ord. 879 § 1. Code 1997 § 17-95)