The bill also establishes a higher maximum fine for commercial property owners who repeatedly fail to maintain their property and adds a hardship process for repeat violators.
The statutory fine amounts for violations of local ordinances and building codes have not been updated for many years, and are losing their deterrent effect. Inadequate available penalties can erode respect for the law. If the consequences for violating a local ordinance or building standard are deemed to be minimal then some community members will ignore the law and create inequities in its application.
For instance, if an ordinance requires dry brush to be cleared for fire protection, and a property owner chooses not to do so, they could be placing the homes of their neighboring properties at risk. If one property owner allows trash and junk to build up on their property, it could attract vermin and devalue adjacent properties.
In brief, AB 2598 would accomplish the following:
- Update for inflation the fine levels for repeated violations, while continuing to keep the initial fine lower — because the object of such laws is securing compliance with local requirements to uphold community requirements, not collecting fines;
- Authorize a $2,500 fine for commercial property owners who repeatedly fail to maintain their properties; and
- Establish a hardship waiver process for repeated violators who have made a bona fide effort to comply with the first violation and payment of the additional fines would create an undue financial hardship.
AB 2598 will be first heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee. The hearing date has yet to be set. The League has prepared a sample support letter cities can use. It is available, along with the bill text and the League’s support letter, at www.cacities.org/billsearch
by plugging AB 2598 into the search function.