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CDD seeks public input to crackdown on eyesores

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Call for community to voice opinions on nuisance ordinance

The Community Development Department (CDD) wants feedback from residents and commercial property owners about ways the county code can be made clearer regarding compliance and enforcement of yard and property maintenance and safety issues on private and commercial property.
Two public meetings will be held and the information will help the county draft a nuisance ordinance.
The first meeting was Thursday at Fuller Lodge and a second meeting will be 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at White Rock Town Hall.
“At the county council’s last strategic planning meeting about 10 months ago, they asked us to come up with standards for non-residential property,” CDD Director Rick Bohn said. “We don’t really have anything in the code that addresses property standards for buildings.”
Bohn’s department began working on the issue and in March reported its preliminary findings to council. The CDD was asked to continue the project, expanding it to include property maintenance and storage of vehicles on residential property.
The county’s legal department has wanted to revamp the ordinance so the CDD began working with new County Attorney Randy Autio. Bohn intends to present a draft nuisance ordinance to council Oct. 19.
“We always want public input and we’ve set up these two meetings for that purpose,” Bohn said. “We are focusing on what items are of concern to people and what areas of town are of concern.”
The CDD analyzed all of the complaints it received from residents during the first six months of this year. Bohn said in 25-30 percent of the complaints lodged it either wasn’t clear if it was in violation of the vague and outdated code or it definitely wasn’t in violation of the code as written.
“The legal department’s advice to us on drafting this ordinance was that we really should look at nationwide standards,” Bohn said. “That way, if we do end up in court we can tell the judge these aren’t arbitrary standards but based on an independent national standard.”
Parking automobiles on private property, which he said is a big source of complaints, is a standard that appears to be localized rather than a national standard, and could become a controversial issue, he said.
Bohn said respecting the rights of people and their diverse opinions is important in drafting the ordinance.
“One man’s weed strewn front yard might be another man’s lovely natural habitat,” he said.
The enforcement process for code violations is also being looked at because the way it’s currently written makes it a criminal offense. People are concerned with their Q clearances, he said, so the idea of making violations civil rather than criminal is on the table.
Violators may be issued tickets with increasing penalties for repeat offenders and an appeals board may be created.
“Typically 80-85 percent of complaints are resolved voluntarily,” Bohn said. “But there’s always that 10-15 percent of people who no matter what you do or how hard you try to work with them aren’t going to comply and that’s where the ordinance could come in handy.”
The CDD reached out to the people who complained and to those who were complained about between January and June. Many have already responded to his office with their opinions on the matter, Bohn said.
Anyone who can’t attend the public meeting this evening or next week is asked to visit the CDD Web site at www.losalamosnm.us/cdd/Pages/default.aspx to enter comments.

CDD seeks public comment

Sounds like this is going to become another attempt at generating revenue for the county. "Parking automobiles on private property", what part of PRIVATE are people having trouble understanding? I bought a home in White Rock and it was not covenant controlled and I do not want it to be covenant controlled. Between the outragous easement requirements of the county and people that do not have enough to do and need to stick their nose into everyones business, the thought of private property in Los Alamos is becoming extinct.