"I look forward to the day when we can go around our town and no broken down cars are around or trash cans are left out all week," said Councilman Jim Conley after the council approved the new staff positions.
But there also are concerns that the city might be moving too fast.
"It is noted that a program such as this will undoubtedly be received with mixed emotions by our residents," stated Community Development Director Joe Brandt in a staff report. Brandt favors a go-slow approach - yet being responsive to what the community has shown it wants - while a complete rental inspection program is developed that could be up and running in the spring.
Brandt's report includes nine pages of the most common violations of the city code by residents: broken windows, overgrown vegetation, clothes lines in front yards, trash cans in a side yard visible from the street, parking of commercial vehicles of more than one ton in any residential district, painting of a building in a garish manner and storing boats, campers and trailers in yards visible from the street for an extended period of time.
The phrase "… so as to cause the depreciation of property values in the immediate vicinity" was part of the description of several of the code violations, which are not limited to residential rental units.
In a related matter, the council also approved the hiring of a full-time deputy city attorney with the provision that half of that person's time would focus on code enforcement, including prosecution.
The council also gave initial approval to increasing fines for code violations, streamlining the administrative hearing and appeal process and making it possible to place liens on a property to facilitate the collection of fines. The system of fines set up by the ordinance would bring in enough revenue to pay for the extra enforcement. The ordinance must come back to council for approval at least once more before it becomes law.
At its Nov. 28 meeting, the council plans to prioritize the code violations it most wants enforced. The city will have a survey on its Web site, www.ci.antioch.ca.us, so that residents can state their top concerns regarding unkempt properties.
Also, another quality of life forum will be held at the El Campanil Theatre, Second and G streets in downtown Antioch, this Saturday, Nov. 18 beginning at 9 a.m. to further discuss these and other issues and concerns.
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