By Kathy Lee Scott/Garden Grove Journal
The new administrative citation program gives Garden Grove staff another tool in its arsenal to compel compliance with city codes, according to police Capt. Todd Elgin. “We can use it as a stick,” he told the Garden Grove City Council at Tuesday’s study session.
Under the new ordinance, Garden Grove residents and businesses face fines of up to $1,000 each, should they violate any of the city’s municipal codes. Although the ordinance passed last June, the city has delayed implementing it until now.
“We want to make sure the word gets out before we start issuing citations,” said Matt Fertal, city manager.
“Our goal is compliance with CUPs [conditional use permits] and the municipal codes,” Elgin added.
Before the council approved the ordinance last summer, the city had limited ability to force residents and businesses to abide by the rules. Code enforcement officers could give them notices when they broke the rules. If those were ignored, the city had no recourse except to ask the city attorney to file charges.
Now it can issue citations after all other avenues are exhausted, said Elgin.
Under the new ordinance, police, fire officials, as well as building personnel and city engineers could issue the citations.
“We won’t be issuing them willy-nilly,” Elgin said. Every citation requires at least a police sergeant or the equivalent manager in other departments to approve them.
Keith Jones, public works director, said, “We probably would issue one or two a year.” And Susan Emery from the community development department estimated they would issue around five. “It would be rare,” she said.
“The fines for fireworks worked so well, we wanted to expand it to other areas,” police Chief Joe Polisar said. Since it involved several city departments, they wanted to coordinate the implementation so everyone was on the same page.
An exception to the notices before a citation procedure would be if people’s health and safety were jeopardized, such as fireworks and graffiti. In those cases, the officer could issue an administrative citation on the spot.
Parents of youngsters arrested for graffiti would receive the citation, which could reach $1,000 per incident.
Councilmember Dina Nguyen asked if the city could help parents whose children were arrested for graffiti. “Maybe a graffiti seminar to reduce the fine,” she suggested.
Fines for graffiti and unkempt vacant properties start at $300 for the first violation, $600 for the second and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses within a year.
Less serious infractions would generate a $100 fine for the first incident, a $200 fine for the second one and a $500 fine for any after that.
Those cited can fight the fines through an appeals process and if that is unsuccessful, in Superior Court.
The person getting a citation can also request a fine waiver based on financial hardship. He would need to document his request. If he fails to provide the necessary paperwork, his request will be automatically denied, and he’ll owe the entire fine.
“This is fast and hits them in the pocketbook,” said Councilmember Bruce Broadwater. “It’s great.”