Signs of urban blight such as illegal dumping, front-yard parking and substandard housing are becoming more frequent in Oxnard, according to an annual report by the city's Code Enforcement Division.
Community leaders have criticized Oxnard officials for failing to curb the city's growing code violations. But Richard K. McIntosh, the city's code enforcement chief, said he simply does not have enough resources to combat the deluge of infractions.
"The biggest problem we have is people--the lack of them," said McIntosh, who has seven code inspectors at his disposal. "We can't cite everyone, and we don't have the personnel to investigate everything."
Some Oxnard leaders agree. Denise Gunn, chairwoman of the Wilson Neighborhood Council, acts as a liaison between the city's neighborhoods and the Code Enforcement Division.
"I think code enforcement gets a bum rap a lot," Gunn said. "They do the best they can with what they have. People want things done yesterday, and they just don't have the time.. . .The public is a bunch of whiny rats."
The report, which summarized the 1993-94 fiscal year, found that the Code Enforcement Division received 355 complaints regarding parking on lawns--172 more than the previous year. The complaints came from all parts of the city, McIntosh said.
Code officers made 1,128 inspections for yard parking violations last year, an increase of 427 from the year before.
Code enforcement received about the same number of substandard housing complaints as the previous year, 326 compared to 323. But that number is substantially higher than five years ago, and will probably increase in the next few years, McIntosh said.
He added that overcrowding in certain neighborhoods, such as North Bartolo Square, has reached critical proportions.
Mike Coz, vice chairman for the North Bartolo Square Neighborhood Council, said his neighborhood is facing an overcrowding epidemic. But he does not blame code enforcement officials.
The steady stream of migrant farm workers in Ventura County, and Oxnard's lack of affordable housing, are responsible for the city's substandard housing problem, Coz said.
"The garages are converted to houses, the houses are converted to 15 people per home," Coz said. "It all has to do with the underground immigrant economy. It's not code enforcement's problem. It's a national and statewide problem."
Complaints about illegal dumping have also leveled off, from 65 in 1992-93 to 69 last year. The numbers are actually down from five years ago, when there were 103 complaints. But McIntosh said there is reason to believe that illegal dumping actually is on the rise.
"One of the increasing problems is people disposing of chairs, washing machines and mattresses, just chucking them in the alleys," McIntosh said. "We get a lot of complaints about that from the Southwinds neighborhood."
McIntosh believes tougher restrictions from landfills have led people to ditch appliances and furniture rather than pay a fee.
But some progress has been made in dealing with some of the city's longstanding eyesores, the report concluded.
The two greatest improvements from last year are in abandoned vehicles and weed abatement, the report found.
There were 576 deserted or stripped cars towed away from Oxnard's streets last year, compared to 788 the year before and 1,061 five years ago. And the number of code inspections related to unsightly weeds has decreased from 2,402 to 2,010.