Yuba County will appeal decision revoking pot penalty | TheUnion.com

Yuba County will appeal decision revoking pot penalty

Yuba County will appeal a court ruling ordering the Board of Supervisors to revoke a penalty imposed on the landlords of property where an illegal marijuana grow site was found.

Supervisors in closed session voted unanimously to seek a review by the 3rd District Court of Appeal on a Yuba County Superior Court ruling.

Judge Stephen W. Berrier had ordered the board to revoke a nearly $16,000 nuisance abatement penalty assessed on Jon and Amy Messick.

The announcement of the appeal came in a formal public report of action taken in closed session. The notice states the board voted 5-0 to authorize the County Counsel’s Office to file an appeal for the reason “the decision is wrong under the law on several grounds.”

Elected bodies are allowed to meet out of public view to discuss litigation. Formal action taken in closed session, however, must be reported.

A marijuana garden on the Messicks’ property in the 4600 block of Ardmore Avenue in Olivehurst violated a county nuisance ordinance. The Messicks were informed of the violation on Sept. 22, 2014, and the violation was corrected by Sept. 26, 2014.

The board held a hearing last February and approved a $15,974 assessment against the Messicks’ property for daily administrative penalties. The Messicks were found liable by the county even though tenants on their property were growing the marijuana.

In his order, Berrier cited county code that provides an exception to an owner’s responsibility to abate a public nuisance if the owner “did not cause, permit, or otherwise allow the existence of the violation and cannot legally abate said violation but has reasonably taken action to do so.”

It has been the practice of county supervisors to impose fines on property owners, whether they live within view of marijuana gardens grown by tenants or not. Owners can be assessed $100 per day per violation with each plant considered to be a separate violation.

Some property owners during recent appeal hearings before the board have claimed ignorance of cannabis grows on their land and cited state laws that limit landlord inspections.

Supervisors last spring approved a tighter set of restrictions that bans outdoor growing and limits indoor plants to a dozen in a qualified accessory structure. It’s resulted in a deluge of code enforcement complaints and responses.

Vodden is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat; he can be reached at 530-749-4769.

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