Law Proposed to Clean Up Eyesores

Ventura residents who refuse to clean up their weed-choked properties, or who insist on leaving abandoned vehicles parked on their lawns, could soon be paying the city to do the cleanup for them, under a law the council will consider Monday.

A new nuisance abatement ordinance would allow the city to eliminate a neighborhood eyesore, then mail the bill to the property's owner--without first taking the time and money to haul that owner into court.

Under the new law, officials first must send notice to a property owner that a site constitutes a public nuisance.

A public nuisance is defined as a property overgrown with weeds, overtaken by transients, cluttered with debris, or otherwise deteriorated. Such a nuisance could also be an abandoned vehicle or broken equipment that is lying in public view, according to the ordinance.

If the owner disputes the notice, the new law would allow the city to simply schedule an administrative hearing at City Hall, instead of holding a court trial on the matter.

Following the administrative hearing, if the owner and the city are still at odds over the state of the property, officials can nevertheless go forward, clear out the site, then charge all city expenses to the owner, under the proposed law.

"It's just an easier way to go through it, so it's more efficient to get at these problems," said City Atty. Pete Bulens, who drafted the ordinance.

Bulens said residents in the Ventura Avenue area requested the law. These residents have been complaining that it takes the city too long to force owners to clean up their deteriorating properties, he said.

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