Part one in a series
“One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all,” rang in the ears of the citizens that packed the Anza Community Hall on Sunday, Jan. 6, as the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Mike Mrsny of Anza Valley’s Property Owners Rights Team (AVPORT).
As a veteran he reminded the crowd that, “We say the pledge to honor the country we serve every day.”
It was a good turnout considering it was a cold, blustery day of rain, sleet, wind, and snow. Despite this, citizens came to hear what AVPORT had to report, concerning the program that the county had set up which was not real amnesty.
They also came to learn the how, why, who, and what was happening with code enforcement and the newly-formed AVPORT; whose apropos tag line sums up the entire intention of the group “Citizens Assisting Citizens.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, however many it may take, the Anza Valley Outlook will showcase the different highlights and info from the three-hour meeting with AVPORT on Jan. 6.
Anza citizens will have the opportunity to learn and know what is happening for the good of the people and how they too can help and get involved.
On Jan. 6, Robyn Garrison introduced Pastor Kevin Watson who gave the invocation, “Heavenly Father, we come before you and just offer this time up into your hands and pray that you would give us wisdom in our direction and that you would help us accomplish much.
“Lord, we are asking that we would be rightly governed. That we would have the ability to go back to our roots Lord and have a nation that is founded by people that love you and people that expect the best.
“Lord, we pray that all things would be brought into your light, that you would expose the darkness and the deception, and allow your truth to remain. We pray for this valley to be filled and for this valley to flourish in your hands. We are asking, Lord, you would bless us and help us through these difficult times. We honor you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Mike Mrsny lead in the Pledge of Allegiance and Robyn Garrison introduced the board – Mike Machado, Pres.; Robyn Garrison, VP; Mike Mrsny, Treasurer; Lisa Wallace, Sec.; Directors Steve Packer, Paul Petkey, and Paul Gregoire.
Machado said, “I would like to thank the community hall and the members of the association for providing us with the hall. Keep in mind this hall is brought to you by yourselves, basically through the donations and the memberships that are paid for by you.
“Our government really does not participate in this, although we’ve had some promises lately from the county, that maybe we will get some air conditioning. That remains to be seen.”
Machado also gave some background history on the beginnings of AVPORT, “July 8, 2012, AVPORT was the beginning moment, an estimated 500 people came into this hall and they wanted to know what they could do about Riverside County code enforcement. (There had been a flurry of citations, that year of 2012, and many felt they were unjust or unjustly treated, and that they had no recourse.)
“We represent the community of an Anza and its territory. 187 people signed a membership or participating document saying that they wanted something done about this. After they were compiled and we looked at where they all came from, they were as far away as Pinyon, some of them were down in Aguanga, some of them as close as Temecula. We even had folks who own property from Diamond Bar, Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix, Arizona present.
“After this meeting the board members that we now have for AVPORT met and came up with a mission statement that we felt best represented what you had to say that day.”
The Mission of AVPORT is: To seek protection of property rights in the Anza Valley at its territory while ensuring public health and safety in accordance with the standards adopted by the state of California in cooperation with local government, citizens assisting citizens.
“What that means is that we will do everything we can to represent your interest because we exist at your convenience,” said Machado. “We’re not here as a special interest (group), we’re not here in favor of or opposed to any government. We’re not here to tell anybody what they should do, how they should live, where they should live, or anything of a sort. We are here to make sure the Constitution of the United States is applied by this local government; when they come to deal with you, or your neighbors or with any other person.
“We believe, as you have directed us to believe, that the Constitution of the United States shall be upheld even in this tiny little community we call Anza. And that is exactly what we intend to accomplish.
“We’re not an organization that will say it’s OK to burn down your house as we don’t believe that you should probably do that. On the other hand, we do believe that the constitution gives you the right to own property and use the property to the fullest extent that you could for your personal use. That is in the fundamentals of the United States Constitution. Laws that are created deal with property rights are those that affect the community. When a community comes together and says they want houses that are only two stories high, a community has a right to do that. So the community can come together and make local laws. They in turn become enacted and become the governances of a county or a city.
“Riverside County has ordinances number 348 and 457, which are their most popular ordinances, and those ordinances are designed to tell you how and by what means you need to operate in order to use your property. How those things are enforced and interpreted generally speaking have a very broad brush when a local county decides to enact these things, this is where we come in.
“AVPORT is here to represent your feelings to the County of Riverside, of what you want to see happen. It is also here to address the concerns and the things that have been done to the people here over the preceding five years or so which is the crux of where Code Enforcement has been. It actually has been going on since 1984, I moved here in 1984, and probably long before that. I think it was in the late seventies when Code Enforcement officers started to appear up here. It has been my experience that they have a tendency to abuse their authority especially in dark economic times. Because one of the things that government has to do is it has to add revenue in order to support itself. So, sometimes it uses, and sometimes the government gets a little aggressive, in the way it uses those laws in order to raise revenue. I don’t believe we want them to do that in Anza anymore.”
Examples of problem cases
“The cases that we have had for the short time AVPORT has been here, which goes back to September of last year, many of these cases involve shipping containers,” said Machado. “A retroactive approach to shipping containers has been taken; Code Enforcement comes and has told people that they can no longer have shipping containers. This violates fundamental due process rights under the Constitution, because if you had them prior to the enactment of the law you are entitled to keep them.
“There are people who have been made homeless by Code Enforcement going to their property and saying that they have no permits and that they have to tear down their house and move somewhere else. They tell people that they can’t occupy their own land, that if you don’t have a home you can’t live on your own property.
“The Constitution says that any person who owns that land can occupy that land, and it doesn’t matter if they only have two twigs and a flag, they have a right to occupy that land. Code Enforcement has come up, and cited people for the storage of vehicles, and justified or not, it seems to be arbitrarily applied. Some people are left alone and some people are not. Some people have operating cars and the owners are told to get rid of them, some people are told it doesn’t matter, deals are made. All sorts of things have occurred when it comes to storing things on your property. You’re only allowed to have so many square feet of storage material on your property. However, if you are going to build a house you should be allowed to store whatever is necessary to complete that.
“Agricultural uses should be treated the same way; people have been cited for storing fencing and other types of agricultural material even though those things are being used to cultivate that land. We had issues with occupancy in RVs. We have one gentleman who moved up here and planted and a bunch of trees and ran an irrigation system. He came back two weeks later to find his trees were gone and so was his irrigation system. He got a RV, and got a person to live on the property. He then re-planted his trees and re-ran his irrigation system and developed his own security. Code Enforcement came along and told him he could not do that. You’re not allowed to provide security for your property. You have to have a house before you can do that. I don’t know if you agree with that or not, I don’t.
“We have had other cases, where the person was not even guilty at all, they did not violate the ordinances; they were told they could not keep horses on a particular piece of property, but the ordinance specifically said they could. They were cited anyway and given a $250 fine. Any way that’s why we’re here.”