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Vehicle abatement ordinance approved by supervisors

The road to a new ordinance amending an existing Plumas County code on abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or excess inoperable vehicles has found direction and been approved.

Plumas County Building Department Director Charles White was before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 4, for a public hearing on the new amendments. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Supervisor Kevin Goss.

It’s been “a very difficult road,” White responded.

Supervisors and residents alike have clamored for an ordinance that would allow the county, state and California Highway Patrol grounds to remove abandoned vehicles. They’ve cropped up beside roadways, at the entrances to communities, and elsewhere.

And supervisors have had their fill of telling the concerned public there wasn’t much they could do until a 2005 ordinance was brought up to date. “I’m very thankful,” Supervisor Lori Simpson said about the completed ordinance. “I’ve had so many complaints and calls.”

Since the original ordinance was approved 15 years ago, White pointed out that the county was no longer in compliance with state regulations.

One of the recognized problems behind the ordinance change was that Plumas County didn’t have a dismantling facility that met state requirements. But then that changed when a business in Greenville was approved.

“The Vehicle Abatement Service Authority has been working on this problem for over a year and we are now in the position with the inclusion of a new state-licensed dismantler within the county to be able to vigorously deal with vehicle abatement,” White said.

Within the new ordinance, White explained that its language, time periods, and additional ordinances referenced have been corrected. The ordinance is now in accord with state regulations.

The new ordinance goes into effect 30 days after final approval by the Board of Supervisors. It was expected that supervisors would approve the ordinance amendments yesterday, Feb. 11, when White returned for the second reading. No one appeared before the Board of Supervisors during the first public hearing to comment or dispute the ordinance.

Findings and determinations

Within the code amendments it was found that the accumulation and storage of abandoned, wrecked, dismantled, excess inoperable vehicles or parts on private or public property have been determined “to promote blight and deterioration, to invite plundering, to create fire hazard, to constitute an attractive nuisance creating a hazard to the health and safety of minors, to create harborage for rodents and insects, and to be injurious to the health, safety and general welfare.”

The ordinance does not apply to a vehicle or its parts that are fully contained within a building. Another exception applies to a vehicle and parts that are stored or parked in a lawful manner on private property in connection to a dismantler or licensed junk yard.

Regulations within the code are administered and enforced by the code enforcement office and its officer. That department is under the building department supervision.

A code enforcement officer can enter private or public property to examine a vehicle, its parts or to obtain information for identification of a vehicle, or to remove it once it has been declared a nuisance under the code.

Administrative costs involved with identified vehicles or parts depend on a fee schedule under the code enforcement office and as approved by its board.

A notice of violation or order to abate violation stating the intent of the enforcement agency is to be sent to the property owner or the last registered and legal owner of the vehicle by registered mail not less than 10-days prior to any further action.Circumstances where a vehicle identification number is no longer evident are also covered under the code.

Anyone who receives a notice is entitled to an appeal hearing by the appeal board within the compliance period specified on the notice.

Ten days after the adoption of the order concerning the state of the vehicle or parts, it may be removed to the dismantler’s yard or another identified place.

Within five days after the vehicle has been removed, the Department of Motor Vehicles is notified. Notification includes registration, title and license plates if available.

Administrative costs and fees of removal are billed to the property owner and payment is expected within 45 days. If these are not paid, the costs are assessed against the property and interest at 6.5 percent per year is applied.

The complete ordinance is available at the Plumas County Building Department in Quincy.

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