Grand jury says Morro Bay needs new approach to code enforcement

May 5, 2015

morro bay plantThe 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.


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mbactivist1

I just read the entire Grand Jury report and it does not sound nearly as negative as some have implied. It says, “the position of code enforcement officer was vacated in 2005 and code enforcement was reduced to a complaint-driven process that continues today.” So, obviously, this is a problem inherited by the current administration; not created by it.


The report goes on to describe the ways in which the process developed in 2005 does not work well. It also clearly indicates that current officials and staff agree that the current process is not the best, and recommends ways to fix it, which include reinstatement of the code enforcement officer position eliminated in 2005, establishment of a proactive code enforcement process, which I believe we also had prior to 2005, and acquisition of “municipal code management software package to track all code violation complaints” – something I don’t think we had before.


racket

There is no good that can come of this.


If MB hires a FT code enforcer, it will be great for a little while while he’s tracking down all the small-town vendettas there.


But what next? In order to continue to justify the position/department, he is going to have to manufacture/uncover code violations just to keep himself busy.


MBvoter

Maybe we can barrow SLO’s code officer then we can site Morro Bay residents for trash cans out and odors from their backyard BBQ’s or maybe site the homeless for violation of the camping ordinance.


Pelican1

Another nail in Irons’ political coffin. At this rate, he’ll soon be a recent part of the past.


slophocles

I agree (assuming he’d want to run again). It’s time for a breath of fresh air in Morro Bay politics – it’s time for the Noah Smukler era!!!!


Redsoxman

I’m hoping I sense a tad of sarcasm in this, slop. That would be like replacing Curly with Shemp.


mbactivist1

Hardly. The Grand Jury report clearly indicates that the flawed code enforcement process was created in 2005. This is just one more problem, created in the past, that was inherited by the current administration.


Pelican1

The entire time Iron’s has been in office he has done NOTHING but blame the past for all the ills that have befallen Morro Bay. First it was former city employees, then business owners, then property owners, bird hunters, and virtually everyone who disagrees with what he calls his vision for Morro Bay. A vision that clearly doesn’t exist but, rather is shrouded in the fog of autocracy.


mb business owner

bravo!


kkeene88

Like!


mbactivist1

Read the Grand Jury report. It says the code enforcement process they don’t like was developed in 2005.


Beyond that, the entire time Irons has been in office, the opposition has cone nothing but try to put the blame on him for the messes that they created. City government was a mess when the current majority took control, and it is going to take time to fix everything. The last election demonstrates the fact that most people in Morro Bay understand that, and aren’t falling for the silly claims of those who constantly try to sabotage the current administration


diamond

Selective code enforcement is the City’s way of harassing business and home owners not in the inner circle and has been used as a crooked tool for far to long. This practice has been in place many years to bully some businesses and look the other way when it comes to the Embarcadero and friends of Morro Bays “Staff”. It is a major conflict of interest as the city collects extra revenue from the waterfront properties. These so called codes never touch George league whom mbactivist is referring to above. Everyone knows rules and laws never ever apply to King George. He continues to live illegally above off the hook, and the city is well aware. This might be a mixed blessing as he is known to drive while hammered. The Harbor hut has applied to renovate the Restaurant to add “office space”, Wink Wink, another apartment crash pad. At a recent city meeting the subject of selective enforcement came up and it was explained that they only look into “complaints” and do not do their due diligence because of the lack of a full time code enforcement officer. This is the excuse staff uses as a bullying tool to explain away how they overlook some of the biggest code offenders while continually nailing others. Equal enforcement does not apply in Morro Bay. It took a grand Jury to finally expose what we have been dealing with for far far to long. The city is leaving themselves wide open for lawsuits, Again.


mbactivist1

Unfortunately, Morro Bay City staff still includes some people loyal to the last administration and its pals – the old boy/girl network.


mb business owner

oh gee, I started to respond to you with some more facts and backable statements and then remembered that I decided never to respond to you or anything you write……


kkeene88

Super Like!


HarryMalone

“Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons MUST respond to the grand jury report”.


And who says the Grand Jury doesn’t have any teeth?


Rambunctious

Look out! Here comes the Hammer…


indigo1955

Pick it up slackers. You act like you are in some unstressed and laid back beach town or something.


mbactivist1

Getting rid of full-time code enforcement officers was an action taken by a past administration in order to save money. It probably did that, but when you don’t have a specific person in charge of the function, you are obviously going to have inconsistent enforcement.


As for targeting particular individuals and businesses, fairness is often in the eye of the beholder. It may be that there are just more complaints coming in about those people and businesses. Radical as this suggestion may seem, one way to avoid being a target of code enforcement action is to adhere to the codes. :)


On the other hand, I do know of one particularly glaring violation that has been discussed at length – a former Council member living illegally above a restaurant on a Harbor lease site. There have been a lot of complaints about that, but nothing seems to have been done.


Hopefully, re-establishing a fully-staffed code enforcement function will help resolve that and other issues.


Redsoxman

Typical of your comments: Blame the past Administration for everything (but never, ever, your hero, Irons!). Then regurgitate old news about members of the former Administration (Oh, no! George is still living where he was! The world is surely going to end!). Finally, give the current Administration a free pass (“fairness is often in the eye of the beholder”), whereas if this report came out during the last Administration, you’d be all up in arms about the Good Ol’ Boy/Girl Club receiving favoritism in regards to the rules.


mbactivist1

If it were the last administration, the good ol’ boy/girl network WOULD be receiving favoritism in regards to the rules. That’s how it always worked.


taxpayer

Sort of like Two Dogs getting the parklet for their free seating! This City Council is ruining this city, bit by bit. 50 years of work and history destroyed in less than 4 years.


LameCommenter

No. hopefully getting RID of the Irons Smuckler et al Troika will help resolve “that and other issues”. How long has Irons failed to obtain code enforcement performance ?


Geez. Such nut-jobbery in office. Constant blunders, some of them ten million at a crack. Irons has trashed the staff and the town. And shut up, MB Activist, as far as I can tell, the Coastal Commission has never successfully forced a town to abandon a shore side upgradeable WWTplant and build a more costly one up some canyon, a costly pumping distance away.


Code enforcement, Shmode enforcement, MB has LOTS of bigger problems and expenses. The voters elected then retained Irons, so they must like his brand of incompetence mixed with arrogance. Cayucos wisely split off from being a non-owner with nutjobs, and thank goodness Irons was able to out-do the sewer stupidity of Los Osos! It took some doing, but he managed it and without a public vote of the victims.


mbactivist1

Request denied. If the CCC never forced a town to abandon a shore-side plant before it is undoubtedly because they never before came across a proposed project with so many blatant violations of the Coastal Act and the LCP – and speaking of code enforcement, that project would even have violated our own zoning. The site is not zoned for heavy industry.


Remember what the Trib reported – “Most of the commissioners praised Morro Bay for moving away from an ill-conceived project and proactively tackling issues, such as protecting water quality and preparing for sea level rise”. Remember what CCC Chair Shallenberger wrote in her letter: “True culpability lay with the former City Council majority and the city’s consultants, who advised the city to press ahead, at great expense to all concerned, with an ill-conceived project.


The commission made a fully informed decision, supported by your sitting mayor. Our staff recommended denial of the permit, and commissioners agreed because the project as designed clearly failed to meet the requirements of the California Coastal Act and Morro Bay’s Local Coastal Program.


The mayor and current City Council should be commended for diligently acting on the strong message the commission sent: Alternative locations for the plant must be identified and thoroughly analyzed before seeking a Coastal Development Permit.”


Rambunctious

Maybe they got rid of the full time code enforcer because the former board and Mayor didn’t like seeing our hard working residents harassed unnecessarily. If there is no complaint there is no violation worth exposing.


mbactivist1

No, they got rid of the full time code enforcer because they thought it was a way to save money.


Rambunctious

Evidence Paaaaaalease.


Old Salt

mbactivist1 Morro Bay’s last Code Enforcement Officer was a really nice guy who mostly schmoozed himself all around town to get through his 8 hour shift…

Total Waste of Morro Bay’s money and resources…Usually if a complaint was made nothing came of it.