Riverside County Code Enforcement officers cover a lot of ground in the unincorporated parts of the county. Despite reductions in staffing levels and budget, they have investigated everything from nonpermitted construction, junk vehicle and rubbish abatement to roadside vending violations and illegal grading. They also enforce Riverside County Ordinance 925, which deals with marijuana cultivation in Riverside County’s unincorporated areas. These cases make up 4 percent of the total investigations for the fourth quarter of the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
The cultivation of marijuana is still illegal in unincorporated Riverside County, with some exemptions for qualified medical marijuana patients as allowed under Proposition 215 and Proposition 420, as well as now permitted under Proposition 64.
In 2015, in response to citizen complaints of huge cannabis “grows” or farms, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved Riverside County Ordinance 925. The ordinance prohibits marijuana cultivation in the unincorporated areas of the county, but includes a limited exemption from enforcement for qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers, who may grow up to 12 plants on a parcel where the patient or caregiver resides, for medical purposes only. A maximum of two “cards” giving medical permission to grow are allowed per parcel, bringing the total plants allowed to 24.
California voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana Nov. 8, 2016, by approving Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. According to this proposition, each county and city in the state may place reasonable restrictions on cannabis cultivation for personal and recreational use, but may not completely ban the growing of up to six plants per person 21 years of age or older. No more than six marijuana plants may be cultivated per private residence, no matter how many people live there.
Code Enforcement enforces Ordinance 925, with assistance from the sheriff’s department if needed. These officers have been busy in the Anza area of unincorporated Riverside County this summer.
Riverside County Code Enforcement officers joined with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigators and deputies from the Hemet Station Monday, June 5, for the service of several search warrants related to outdoor marijuana cultivation in Anza. At each of the properties served that day, code officers observed several violations of the Uniform Building Code, violations of the local ordinance and substandard electrical conditions which posed significant threat to life and safety. Notices were posted at each of the properties regarding these violations. Over 10,000 plants were seized by sheriff’s personnel.
Riverside County Code Enforcement officers accompanied Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigators and deputies from the Hemet Station Monday, Aug. 21, during the service of several search warrants in Anza regarding illegal outdoor marijuana cultivation. At each of the two properties, code officers observed multiple violations of the Uniform Building Code, violations of the local ordinance and substandard electrical conditions which posed significant threat to life and safety. At the second location, officers discovered an underground bunker that had been dug out and was being used to house several of the farmworkers at the 40-acre cultivation site. The bunker had significant substandard structural defects, posing an imminent threat to the life and safety of the people housed there. Notices were posted at each of the properties for the violations observed. Over 200 cannabis plants were seized at the first location, and well over 12,000 plants were seized at the second property.
According to the Code Enforcement website, “By building relationships within the community, and continuing to partner with the sheriff’s department, Riverside County Code Enforcement is committed to protecting the public’s safety and preserving the quality of life within each community we serve.”
If illegal cannabis cultivation is suspected, community members can lodge complaints with Code Enforcement either online, email or by phone.
For more information, visit www.rctlma.org/ce, call (951) 955-2004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.