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Fresno residents get new way to complain about neighbors

A dilapidated house in Southwest Fresno has been an eyesore for more than 20 years. Neighbor James Battle says the city hasn't seemed to care.
Friday, August 01, 2014
A dilapidated house in Southwest Fresno has been an eyesore for more than 20 years. Neighbor James Battle says the city hasn't seemed to care.

Battle said, "You can complain all day long they ain't gonna do nothing about it you know."

But the city council has just approved an ordinance, giving citizens the power to act on code violations when the city doesn't.

City Council President Steve Brandau was among the five council members who voted to support it.

"The city hasn't been able to respond as fast as we would like to respond so this is a tool for some citizens for some citizens to approach the city and say hey I've got a problem," said Brandau. "And now they can bypass the bureaucracy and get plugged in directly by kind of filing their own report."

Under the new city ordinance if you see piles of trash or other code violations in your neighborhood you can complain to the city but for faster action you can actually file a complaint against the property owner. But your name will be on that complaint and city council member Clint Olivier believes it could lead to neighborhood conflicts.

Olivier explained, "For residents, their number one concern is for anonymity. Often they are calling in to report loud parties or cars on a lawn or a marijuana grow in a back yard and so my constituents are in fear for their safety that's why they call my office I file their complaint for them and protect their anonymity."

The complaint forms are online. Whoever files is responsible for giving it to the offending property owner, and testifying against them. James Battle thinks it sounds like a lot of trouble.

Battle added, "I don't think, I'm not for going through all that, I mean, speaking for myself I think the city should make them clean up."

The details are still being worked out, but filing a complaint is expected to cost about $100. The money would be refunded if a city hearing officer agrees the code violation complaint was justified.

The city council is set to give final approval to the ordinance in three weeks. It would take effect at the end of September.



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