Orange Cove enhances code enforcement efforts

Orange Cove City Council emphasizes importance of code enforcement in keeping the city safe and clean

Orange Cove City Manager Daniel Parra having a conversation with Mayor Diana Guerra Silva at a council meeting.
Serena Bettis
Published June 26, 2024  • 
11:00 am

ORANGE COVE – Orange Cove city officials say they are cracking down on code enforcement violations they find on commercial and residential properties as part of a renewed push to beautify the city. 

There were upwards of 30 open code enforcement cases as of mid-June, Building and Planning Director Shun Patlan said, and city staff are actively working to address public nuisances — especially when they threaten public safety. Even still, abatement of these issues can take time, and in some cases, thousands of dollars. 

“We do get the majority that comply – the simpler ones like weed abatement and vehicle abatement and smaller issues like that – but these larger ones we have, we found that they’re not as forthcoming to comply as the minor code enforcement cases,” Patlan said. 

The topic of city beautification came up for discussion during a public hearing at the Orange Cove City Council meeting June 12. Patlan brought forward a resolution for the council to approve that confirmed the cost of abating one of these public nuisances and the placement of a lien on the property so that the city can recover the abatement costs. 

According to the Orange Cove Municipal Code, when the city determines that a property meets the definition of a public nuisance, it has the authority to do what is necessary to remedy that nuisance. In doing so, it must notify the property owner of the violation and give an order to remedy the violation  within a certain timeframe. 

If no action is taken by the owner, the city may take action and charge the property owner for any costs incurred. Throughout this process, the city must abide by a legal process that includes obtaining a warrant from the Fresno County Superior Court to abate the public nuisance.

Patlan explained to the council that in March, the city completed the demolition of a wood frame structure located on a commercial property in the 400 block of Center Street that was determined to be a public nuisance because it was abandoned, incomplete and unsafe.

Orange Cove spent a total of $15,416.71 on the abatement process, and the council unanimously approved the resolution to confirm the costs.

“It’s been a public nuisance and we know that homeless people have occupied that,” Mayor Diana Guerra Silva said, referring to the Center Street property. “It’s been a danger to our students that walk the sidewalks by where that’s at, and I think it’s very important that we go ahead and approve this because it’s a danger. It’s endangering our community members that go through by this address.”

This is the second public nuisance abatement the city has brought to the council this year. In April, Patlan brought forward a similar resolution at a public hearing to confirm the costs of abating a commercial property in the 200 block of Park Boulevard. Orange Cove spent $25,899.73 to clean up the remains of a commercial structure that had been abandoned and caught fire, resulting in a demolished state.

Mayor Pro Tem Gilbert Garcia said he has had residents who have been cited for these public nuisance violations come up to him and point out other areas in the city that are in similar condition, and warned staff that they might get some complaints along those lines. 

City staff are aware of these properties and other public nuisances, City Manager Daniel Parra pointed out, but they have to keep in mind that abatement comes with a cost. Parra said the money spent on the recent abatements were not budgeted items, and even with a lien on a property, the city does not expect to recover those costs immediately.

“So it’s money lost, but we’re doing it,” Parra said. “It’s just, you don’t do it overnight; there’s a process, there’s notice after notice.”

Patlan said the city has enhanced its code enforcement program, with Code Enforcement Director Carl Lockridge out in the city identifying code violations, speaking to individuals he sees building new structures to ensure they are properly permitted and responding to complaints. 

Beginning in July, the city will be distributing door hangers to homes with code violations that identify the violations, Patlan said. Orange Cove will also begin to submit automatic fines for some code enforcement violations, which it wasn’t doing previously. 

“I know we’re gonna go continue on through this so that it does happen, so eventually everybody’s house is taken care of in these matters,” Guerra Silva said.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter