Starting this last summer in July, over 500 citizens came together in a show of solidarity, concerning code enforcement issues. This lead to the county’s Supervisor Jeff Stone promising Amnesty before a packed house at the Aug. 8, 2012, AVMAC meeting.
To Anza and Aguanga citizens he promised: a clean slate for all active cited issues citizens had that were not a case of public safety; to do away with the anonymous turning in of others; new citations would not be issued unless there is a public safety violation, and; that they would not go after containers on improved properties anymore, among other things. He also promised to do away with the deposit base fee system for permits.
The next AVMAC meeting held on Oct. 10, 2012, was to be an informative meeting on how the Amnesty Program and other things were to be implemented. What happened was a one-on-one department workshop. Brochures were handed out to explain their “Compliance Incentive Program” (CIP) as no group meeting was held.
At this AVMAC session, seeing the previous omission of containers not being cited in the AVMAC minutes of Aug. 8, 2012, (of which according to AVMAC’s Secretary Cindy Barker was approved by the county, I, as a concerned citizen, asked AVMAC’s Pres. Gordin Lanik about adding the information to the Oct. 10, 2012, minutes so it would be a part of the record.
He then brought over Jeff Stones’ Chief of Staff Vern Lauritzen and he, Lauritzen, adamantly rejected to do so. His reason for this action was that the county wanted to reserve the right to make their own call on a case by case basis whether or not a citizen’s containers were too numerous and/or unsightly and needed to be removed.
Seeing the need for a citizens advocate group, AVPORT was formed, “Citizens Assisting Citizens.” Some of AVPORT’s board members are Michael Machado, President; Robyn Garrison,Vice President; Michael Mrsny, Treasurer; Lisa Wallace, Secretary; Steve Packard, Construction Consultant; Paul Gregoire, Director.
From AVPORT: “Legal Counsel from AVPORT has reviewed the Riverside County Compliance Incentive Program (CIP) and has concluded that it is not an amnesty program.
“The program executed by Riverside County Code Enforcement as a result of citizen complaints was unveiled Oct. 15, 2012, and will expire Jan. 15, 2013. The concept derived from Supervisor Stone’s Aug. 8, 2012, presentation to the Community to fix Code Enforcement issues is not what most people were expecting.
“The program requires an irrevocable agreement (Settlement Agreement) according to Counsel that cannot be appealed and is an admission of violation of County Ordinances. As such, those that sign the Settlement portion of the Agreement are bound by its provisions and liable for any and all breaches of the Agreement regardless of circumstances.
“This may be a way to mitigate a violation to reduce fees and fines and extend time for compliance but it does not have any provision to forgive anything and does not set aside past violations or penalties and does not offer any vehicle to mitigate the permit process for compliance or anything that might otherwise constitute a form of amnesty.
“Concerning, is the fact that if you believe you are innocent of a violation you have no recourse as you are surrendering your due process rights in favor of the Settlement.
“Counsel’s advice is not to sign the Settlement portion of the Agreement without the advice of an attorney. Or in the alternative, make sure you agree with the Settlement and can comply with the Terms of the Agreement, prior to signing.”
On Jan. 6, an informative meeting will be held at the Anza Community Hall from 2 to 5 p.m. A dinner of BBQ chicken will be offered for $6 to cover cost. In a three hour meeting, the following points will be covered: 1) There is no Amnesty; 2) What are your civil rights? 3) Tell Code Enforcement no trespassing; and, 4) What to do if you have a Code Violation. Bring a chair as there should be standing room only.
You can reach AVPORT by calling (951) 763-4875 or (951) 763-2535. Read AVPORT’s letter to the editor of introduction at www.anzavalleyoutlook.com/story/66701.