Compliance enforcement reduces fire risk
Last updated 7/5/2022 at Noon
Sisters’ new code compliance officer (CCO), Jacob Smith, has been busy monitoring the city’s overgrown grass and weeds which can create a fire risk as they dry out.
Our wet spring provided extra moisture, which promoted healthy growth of a variety of vegetation. Hot summer temperatures will soon dry out a good share of that vegetation, which should be cut down now to a maximum height of four inches.
The Code Compliance Chart and Timeline provides information on how the process works under the amended Sisters Municipal Code. The addition of administrative infractions allows Smith the ability to enforce the Municipal Code more efficiently for the community.
The old ordinance included language that a municipal judge would have jurisdiction over all violations made punishable by City ordinance. That code can slow down the enforcement process, and provides less opportunity to use citations flexibly to gain compliance.
The administrative infractions created by the amendments to the Municipal Code create the ability for citations to be issued from start to finish, all while being governed by the City of Sisters. An administrative infraction code allows the City more opportunities to be involved with obtaining voluntary compliance and leveraging citations as a tool.
Smith’s goal is not to punish property owners for code violations; rather, his goal is to work with the property owners to bring their property into compliance. So far, he has been successful in doing that. During the 13 years he worked in the same position for the City of Redmond, he had a 96 percent compliance rate on 15,000 violations. A big part of Smith’s job is as much about educating the public regarding City codes as it is enforcement.
The chart is simply a framework within which the compliance officer works. The timeline is not hard and fast, and adjustments can be made based on the property owner’s situation. Citations can be removed, or the administrative penalty lowered depending on the violator’s actions. For example, the violator could correct all violations prior to a hearing. In that case, the administrative penalty could be removed or significantly lowered without authorization from a judge.
Citations can be mailed to property owners, eliminating the need to obtain identification, and can more easily facilitate enforcement on out-of-town property owners. Violators that plead not guilty can request a hearing. A hearings officer will preside over the hearing and decide if City code was violated. Unpaid administrative penalties can become a lien upon the violator’s personal property. The City can still utilize municipal court citations in cases where it makes sense.