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West Ventura County Focus

Supervisors OK Fines for Zoning Violators


Ventura County supervisors have agreed to revise the county's nuisance ordinance, enabling certain departments to levy fines against violators.

The effort is an attempt to avoid costly and time-consuming court action to force violators of county zoning, building and grading codes in unincorporated areas to eliminate health and safety code violations.

Officials say the new ordinance, set for final approval May 13, will generate an additional $100,000 annually for the county's coffers through fines and recovery of enforcement costs.

Still, Supervisor Judy Mikels asked Resource Management Agency officials to take caution in enforcing the new law.

"I, for one, do not want to be seen as the Gestapo," Mikels said. "We need to use prudence and we need to use good judgment in enforcing it. It's a fine line between private property rights and public safety."

Under the revised ordinance, an administrative hearing officer will hear all nuisance cases. Current county codes stress only voluntary compliance to fix problems deemed hazardous by code enforcement officers. Court action is the county's only other recourse.

In addition to fines, landowners found liable under the revised ordinance would have to abate nuisances on their property and recoup the county for all code enforcement and administrative hearing costs. The measure also allows the county to place liens on property similar to those faced by home and landowners who do not pay their property taxes.

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