A new grand jury report raises the issue and finds other problems in the department
By Jeff Horseman / Staff Writer
Published: July 1, 2016 – 4:55 p.m.
A Riverside County grand jury report questions whether the county’s elected supervisors meddled in code enforcement cases and found it can take up to four years to resolve code violations.
The 15-page report, released earlier this week, also faults code enforcement for inaccurate billing, improperly handling complaints against code enforcement officers and being slow to refund fines to exonerated property owners.
A formal county response to the report is due within 90 days.
“The grand jury report will go to the Board of Supervisors and the county will respond to it in its entirety, within the time frame required by state law,” said county spokesman Ray Smith.
The Code Enforcement Department falls under the county’s Transportation & Land Management Agency. It is responsible for enforcing building codes and related rules in the county’s unincorporated areas and the city of Perris through a contract.
The report from the jury, a panel of 19 citizens sworn by the court to act on complaints and probe the inner workings of public agencies, includes a section titled “Perception of Interference by Board of Supervisors in Code Cases.”
Jurors took testimony from code enforcement employees who said county supervisors and their staff “have interjected themselves into active code cases, causing delays and sometimes abandonment of those cases,” the report read.
“It is reasonable for the supervisor or his staff to get information about the ordinance violation in order to assist a constituent with the issue. However, code enforcement personnel at all levels have perceived subsequent contact by the supervisor’s office as interfering with the code case.”
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