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On October 14, 2008 the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt a new Code Enforcement Ordinance. LandWatch, along with several other groups throughout the County, participated in this process for the past five years. Through many stakeholder discussions with groups that were both supportive and opposed to a new county ordinance, we were able to come to an agreement. Some of the groups and individuals who were allied with LandWatch on this effort have included: Paula Lotz on behalf of LandWatch and the Carmel Valley Association; the Open Monterey Project; Jan Mitchell of the Prunedale Preservation Alliance and the Prunedale Neighbors’ Group; Carolyn Anderson of the North County Citizens’ Oversight Coalition; and the Sierra Club.

LandWatch participated in this process because a clear and strong Code Enforcement Ordinance is essential in maintaining land-use policies. LandWatch and our allies wanted an ordinance adopted that would have some “teeth” and one that would take inappropriate political pressure out of the current code enforcement process.

The code enforcement update was a long process and not all stakeholders agreed with the county staff’s proposal to form a new “Code Enforcement Board” which would have five appointed members. Indeed, LandWatch and our allies were concerned that each Supervisor would appoint someone to the new Code Enforcement Board, which could make the process of implementing the ordinance subject to the same inappropriate pressures and preferential treatment. A good compromise was reached when the Board of Supervisors agreed to hire an Administrative Law Judge on a rotating basis.

What happens next?
Even though the Supervisors unanimously adopted the ordinance, the county staff still has to report back to the Supervisors on the costs for using an Administrative Law Judge. Additionally, the staff has been directed to provide alternative language providing for “hardship waivers”. The final language and the costs will return to the Board of Supervisors on December 16, 2008.

LandWatch will continue to monitor the new language to make sure it doesn’t allow for loopholes to enforcement. We will also attend the Board hearing to encourage the Board of Supervisors to stick to the original adoption of the ordinance and to move ahead with the hiring of the Administrative Law Judge. The costs for utilizing the service of a judge will be offset and perhaps entirely provided for by the more effective enforcement of the new policy and the more timely payment of fines when enforcement of the County codes finally takes place. Please check our website for the draft ordinance language for the Board in December.


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posted 11.25.08

LandWatch's mission is to protect Monterey County's future by addressing climate change, community health, and social inequities in housing and infrastructure. By encouraging greater public participation in planning, we connect people to government, address human needs and inspire conservation of natural resources.



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