Grand jury says Morro Bay needs new approach to code enforcement
May 5, 2015
The city of Morro Bay is too lackadaisical in its approach to code enforcement, according to a report released Tuesday by the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury.
In response to a citizen complaint, the grand jury conducted an investigation into the Morro Bay code enforcement process. The grand jury report faults the city for simply responding to individual complaints, rather than operating an organized system involving a full-time code enforcement officer.
The report states it takes too long for citizen complaints to reach the appropriate staff member, and staffers are often too busy to respond promptly to alleged violations. Likewise, the city’s inter-departmental tracking system only lists the complaints that the Morro Bay code enforcement committee is addressing.
The committee tends to meet every other month, and is comprised of representatives from the police, fire, building and public services departments, as well as the city attorney’s office. Often, members of the public take their complaints directly to council members or the city manager.
“Individuals may, and reportedly do, telephone or e-mail the mayor, any city council member, city manager, city hall or any city department with complaints and comments,” the report states.
The report also states that code enforcement in Morro Bay often appears unfair and inconsistent because it only targets specific violations alleged in complaints.
CalCoastNews has received numerous complaints about Morro Bay code enforcement, though they almost entirely pertained to allegations of selective enforcement. Several residents and businessmen have alleged that city officials repeatedly targeted them while ignoring other alleged violators, particularly those with political connections.
The grand jury recommends that Morro Bay hire a full-time code enforcer, establish a proactive code enforcement process and use a municipal software system to track complaints. Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons must respond to the grand jury report.