Back to: Opinion
August 31, 2013
Follow Opinion

Compromise uncommon with code enforcement

Nevada County’s CEO Rick Haffey addressed Code Enforcement complaints recently in The Union in an Other Voices guest column.

He painted a very rosy picture of the Community Development Agency and how “workable” they have been with building projects and people. Nothing could be further from the truth when one considers all of the hundreds of issues that have been documented through the years.

Eighty-year-old ladies and others have been threatened with jail if they didn’t tear down a structure or pay exorbitant fees to leave it standing or, worse yet, take out a permit to demolish it. This is Rick Haffey’s definition of being workable?

It is a thumbnail sketch of CDA , where fire planner fees run $179 per hour while permit fees keep rising every year — and that’s in spite of the many contractors who have been protesting against the injustices, but CDA remains unmoved.

Most everyone in California knows by now that city and county governments are out of control when it comes to code enforcement issues.

This is why Clark and Karla Fratus who had vacation rentals in Contra Costa County won their case in Superior Court and are now in federal court suing the supervisors, the planners and code enforcers for the cause of justice and unalienable property rights.

Property owners have become victims of environmental “injustice” and an unworkable code compliant system that favors an administrative bureaucracy, the money changers and a charade of codes for the “common good,” which will not even allow a “dog house” as an outbuilding on 37 acres. Those were the very words of a Nevada County planner who is workable?

The cat is out of the bag. CDA isn’t interested in helping anybody. Their hearts have been hardened, and their goal is not to compromise.

While Sonoma County gives amnesty to property owners who are noncompliant, Nevada County promotes tear-downs. Rick Haffey’s claim of due process is all but a cover while countless property owners suffer.

What is transpiring today in Nevada County, might be comparable to the city of Bell. CDA’s permits fees, salaries, and code compliance issues are running wild and off the charts. And more recently, in the city of Bell, five of six city administrators were found guilty for the misappropriation of funds. Three of those were convicted of felony counts. Mayor Ali Saleh’s view in a press release shared that Bell’s resources, which were plundered, “shackled Bell’s hardworking families with an overwhelming tax burden.”

Aside from the extortion that is evident within CDA, the gods of code compliance have used every trick in the book to get money and also take away one’s natural property rights from a free people on a regular basis.

While we are told it is all for the “health, safety and welfare” of the people, the county has fashioned a simply self-serving business that caters to the elite club of Haffey’s so-called “expert” planners, while environmental health, public works and the building department personnel are bringing in hundreds of dollars per hour and making life unbearable for property owners while adding to the county’s slush fund.

Finally, while an anonymous neighbor reported my own guest cabin that could be left even as an outbuilding, it mistakenly was singled out by Rick Haffey as a structure that is in a flood plain, while the biologist’s sterling report explicitly stated that there is no impact.

At the same time, there is an entire house, which lies a quarter-mile upstream, that is in a FEMA-designated flood plain and was given a final in 2002. But in the case of my cabin, it is scheduled for a tear down.

In spite of this, it falls within an equal protection issue, used to protect property owners, but Nevada County doesn’t see it that way. They play the code game, while others are given a free pass in a flood plain.

Chuck Frank lives in Penn Valley.

Stories you may be interested in

The Union Updated Aug 31, 2013 09:43AM Published Sep 7, 2013 10:37AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.