The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday to postpone any further discussion on superseding and replacing part of the county code.
Modifications to current Chapter 8.06 of Calaveras County Code, “Public Abatement – Property Maintenance Code,” will halt until a fee schedule is introduced in August.
During public comment Tuesday, many people expressed concerns that the new Chapter 8.06 code would be a tactic for the county to balance the $9.2 million deficit in the county’s budget by allowing immediate and unknown fees and fines to be imposed upon unsuspecting residents. Because there was no fee schedule included with the proposed changes Tuesday, and supervisors and members of the public said Code Compliance officials have been lax at public outreach to educate the public on the proposed code enforcement actions, the decision was delayed.
In particular, some of the worries expressed by the public were that there would be excessive fees administered for commercial cannabis cultivators who grow more than six plants, unknown fees for minor infractions, and a lack of clarity in regard to small, unpermitted structures such as shipping containers and trailers, among other issues.
District 2 Supervisor Jack Garamendi expressed concerns about the unexpected consequences of the ordinance, and whether it would reflect the character of “our rural county.”
”This isn’t about cannabis, it’s about everyone,” Garamendi said Tuesday. “The current 8.06 chapter already gives Code Compliance the tools to cite cannabis growers. I’m worried about the unfettered power of our government, and I don’t think this is right for us take up as a board.”
Supervisors agreed that there was a lack of public outreach on the part of Code Compliance to explain what the new code enforcement actions would entail to the public.
In response to the board’s concerns, Deputy County Counsel Ethan Turner said, “The only difference from the current 8.06 is the fees and appeals process. There’s no expansion of power.”
On the subject of public outreach, Turner assured, “It wouldn’t hurt us to have more public hearings; I can explain this to people.”
The supervisors suggested that Code Compliance inform the public on the proposed code replacement at town hall meetings in all of the five Calaveras County supervisorial districts.
Chief Building Official Ed Short, who oversees Code Compliance, said no meeting dates have yet been scheduled, but will be announced soon.