City getting serious on blight

As part of beautification efforts in 2021, City leaning toward more intensive crackdown on nuisance cases

By Per Peterson

“We all know that there are some properties in town that need a little help.”

With those words, Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen began a dialogue at Monday’s city council meeting focusing on code enforcement for areas of town the City will focus on for future clean-up efforts.

Hansen and Tracy Community Development Director Jeff Carpenter recently toured the city and identified certain areas in town that could be targeted for more intensive enforcement. Tracy City Public Works Director Shane Daniels and Tracy Police Chief Jason Lichty have also been tasked with doing the same thing — Daniels to focus on the building maintenance standpoint, and Lichty from a code enforcement point of view.

“On April 20th, we’re going to meet and kind of compare notes on these properties,” said Hansen. “The first thing we want to do is collect the information — where are the places that really need help — and identify those most problem properties that we have.”

Hansen said past protocol on blighted properties hasn’t worked too well, so he suggested approaching the issue more aggressively, especially when it comes to those property owners who are “repeat offenders.”

Hansen said it’s hard to ascertain why certain properties have not been cleaned up. He questioned if it was because the homeowner can’t afford to clean up a property or if they just are neglecting the issue. He also warned the council that a more intensive approach could very well  result in citations and possibly end up in the court system.

“That means people are going to come to you as a city council and mayor and complain,” said Hansen. “Why are you targeting me? Why are you picking on me? Our belief is that if we can take a more intensive approach on the worst offenders and try to take it one property at a time — that’s a better approach than the way we are doing it.”

The proposed new approach could include the mobile home park, although Hansen wasn’t sure who would be cited if it came to that — the owner or the resident.

Council member Jeri Schons said her concern with the more aggressive approach is that some residents in town would feel singled out and targeted.

“I don’t have a problem with us getting a lot stricter on this, I just have a concern … I can already hear it — ‘Why are you coming after me and not these?’” said Schons. “I, in good conscience, can’t say, ‘Well, we don’t think that looks as bad.’ I think we have to be fair to everybody.”

Hansen said that scenario is all but unavoidable. He added that if a particular complaint from a resident about another property arises, the City will address that.

Schons also said that everyone in town should be treated the same so no one gets any special treatment because of who they know. Hansen agreed.

“If there are certain people that have issues, it doesn’t matter who they are — it doesn’t matter if you’re the mayor or a council member, or somebody that just moved to town five minutes ago, they should all be treated the same,” said Hansen.

Council member Ron Koopman concurred, saying the City can’t “pick and choose” who to go after when it comes to nuisance issues.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.