Calexico Nuisance Ordinance Chapter
The fire-gutted remains of the former Guadalajara’s restaurant at Third Street and Emerson Avenue in Calexico are among the eyesores the city hopes to remove with a proposed update to its nuisance ordinance. | CORISSA IBARRA PHOTO

Calexico To Revisit Nuisance Ordinance

CALEXICO — More than a month after first opening a public hearing to consider changes to its nuisance abatement ordinance, the Calexico City Council was expected to take up the issue again.

The public hearing and consideration of preliminary approval of the changes was scheduled for a city council meeting on Jan. 22 after this newspaper’s deadline. The objective was to hasten cleanup of “hazardous and unsightly public-nuisance conditions” and cut city costs to achieve that.

 The issue was initially brought up at the council’s Dec. 18 meeting, but was held over when only three of five council members were present.

Under consideration is the revision of a critical chapter of the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance, according to a report prepared for the council by City Attorney Carlos Campos and contract city planner Christopher Velasco.

The chapter defines common nuisances, ensures due process for those cited for violations and allows the city to recover costs to initiate nuisance removals. The changes “were not directed at any one particular property,” Calexico City Manager David Dale said in an interview last month.

Proposed Changes Detailed

It is recommended the council repeal a chapter of the ordinance that contains only a limited list of public nuisances and an “overly brief and general recitation of the city’s authority to, and procedures for, abating public nuisances,” according to Campos’ and Velasco’s December report.

The chapter as worded does not provide adequate notice to property owners and code enforcement officials on what conditions constitute public nuisances, the report states. Further, it does not define what due-process protections property owners have available to them during the mitigation process. That increases city liability if it is taken to court over issuing citations and removing public nuisances, the report indicated.

“The lack of clear and uniform procedures for seeking property owners’ compliance and affording property owners due process will continue to mire the city’s efforts to abate dangerous nuisance conditions in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” Campos’ and Velasco’s report states.

The replacement chapter to the ordinance is intended to create uniform policies and procedures for code enforcement officers and other city officials. In turn, that would allow nuisances to be removed faster and at less cost.

Nuisances Specified

As part of the expanded chapter, a list of common public nuisances would be defined and described so that violators and city enforcers have a clearer picture of what constitutes a nuisance. A partial list includes:

  • A building, structure or facility in violation of California Standards Building Code;
  • A building that is abandoned, partially destroyed or unsafe, as defined by the Uniform Building Code;
  • A building left in an unreasonable state of partial construction;
  • An unfinished building or structures whose appearance detracts from the appearance of the immediate neighborhood or which reasonably may be expected to reduce the property value in the immediate neighborhood;
  • Any excavation, well, pit or hole that is open to the public, unguarded or abandoned that could pose a hazard to life or limb;
  • A solid wall or fence structure that has barbed wire, broken glass, metal spike, or other sharp-edged objects affixed to it, unless approved or otherwise granted by the city’s building official;
  • Any condition that obscures the safe visibility of any public right of way, road intersection or pedestrian walkway;
  • Obstructions that interfere with any natural or mechanical light, heat, or ventilation for a building or structure or that impedes getting into or out of a building or structure;
  • Abandoned personal property that is visible from public or private property;
  • Any form of an attractive nuisance;
  • Interior portions of buildings or structures that have fallen into a state of disrepair or dilapidation that interferes “with the peaceful use, possession or enjoyment of occupants or properties in the immediate vicinity …”;
  • Refuse, rubbish, broken or discarded furniture or household equipment, which is visible from the public right of way or adjoining properties. This includes the keeping, disposing, or scattering over the property of junk, trash, debris, or abandoned or discarded objects or equipment such as furniture, stoves, refrigerators, freezers, cans or boxes;
  • The existence of any one or more of the following conditions on improved or unimproved real property: a) vegetation that is dead, decayed, dry or hazardous, b) overgrown vegetation that is likely to harbor such nuisances as rats or vermin, or is in a condition to cause unsightliness, c) lack of landscaping to such an extent that it detracts from the appearance of the surrounding community or may reasonably be expected to reduce surrounding property values, and d) animal excrement or other waste materials that emit odors that are unreasonably offensive to the physical senses of a normal person or that may attract insects;
  • Abandoned, unfenced or otherwise unprotected wells, swimming pools, spas, ponds, or excavations;
  • Stagnant water;
  • Dead, decayed, diseased, or hazardous trees, weeds, ground cover, and other vegetation that causes a) an attractive nuisance, b) a condition that increases the risk of fire, c) the creation or promotion of dust or of soil erosion, d) a condition which is a detriment to public health, safety, or welfare, e) landscaping consisting only of dirt or weeds, when the area is more than 25 percent of any bounded area of a front or side yard that is viewable from the public right of way;
  • Any clothesline or clothes hanging in any front yard, front porch, balcony or fence, which is visible from a public street;
  • Burial of the carcass of any dead animal within the city limits by anyone other than the police.
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