Lathrop may dis­agree with grand jury

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - By JA­SON CAMP­BELL

The San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury took is­sue back in June with the way that the City of Lathrop han­dles its code en­force­ment op­er­a­tion.

And Lathrop city staff is now rec­om­mend­ing that the coun­cil re­spect­fully dis­agree with the rec­om­men­da­tions of the grand jury in writ­ing in re­sponse to claims that the city doesn’t have an ethics pol­icy for its elected of­fi­cials, that the city has taken lim­ited code en­force­ment action to thwart il­le­gal truck park­ing, that the city doesn’t have a bud­geted po­si­tion for code en­force­ment and that the city doesn’t have any ap­peals process for those who have been

cited for code en­force­ment vi­o­la­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the staff re­port pre­pared for the coun­cil in ad­vance of their next busi­ness meet­ing tonight – tak­ing place at Lathrop City Hall, lo­cated at 390 Towne Cen­tre Drive – staff is rec­om­mend­ing that the coun­cil “re­spect­fully dis­agree” with each of the four find­ings, some of which have al­ready been re­sponded to by Lathrop City At­tor­ney Sal­vador Navar­rete.

The city, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, has ini­ti­ated 3,380 new code en­force­ment cases in the last six years – with 103 of them be­ing for il­le­gal truck park­ing. In just the last two years, code en­force­ment has ini­ti­ated 1,149 new cases, 20 of which were for il­le­gal truck park­ing – num­bers that the city feels proves that they have al­ready taken steps to ad­dress the is­sues that were pointed out in the grand jury re­port.

“The City of Lathrop Code Com­pli­ance Di­vi­sion ex­er­cises all pow­ers vested in the City in re­sponse to blight and pub­lic safety is­sues, in­clud­ing il­le­gal park­ing of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles,” reads the sug­gested re­sponse by the coun­cil, which then goes on to de­tail the num­ber of new cases that have been ini­ti­ated over the last six years. “The City of Lathrop does in fact take con­sis­tent code en­force­ment action on the il­le­gal truck park­ing of com­mer­cial trucks.”

And a big part of that re­cent code en­force­ment suc­cess is thanks to the City of Lathrop’s former po­lice chief that came back af­ter re­tire­ment to help the city clear a back­log of cases.

The City of Lathrop had been uti­liz­ing the ser­vices of re­tired Lathrop Po­lice Chief Danelle Hohe on a con­tract ba­sis through Oc­to­ber of 2017. Her ex­per­tise with Lathrop’s mu­nic­i­pal code and her knowl­edge of the com­mu­nity had al­lowed her to clear the sig­nif­i­cant back­log of com­plaints. In the first nine months prior to her con­tract, the city had cleared 392 code en­force­ment cases while Hohe man­aged to clear 152 by her­self in just over three months’ time – putting her on track to clear more than 500 cases through the end of her con­tract. Her po­si­tion, which was ap­proved up to $50,000, was paid for out of the sav­ings from the un­filled code en­force­ment su­per­vi­sor po­si­tion, which was filled on a full-time ba­sis back in March.

The city also feels that it al­ready en­sures that elected of­fi­cials ob­serve all of the nec­es­sary state and fed­eral ethics laws, in ad­di­tion to the city coun­cil’s hand­book which gov­erns the eth­i­cal be­hav­ior of coun­cil mem­bers.

The Cal­i­for­nia Pe­nal Code re­quires that the coun­cil re­spond to the find­ings when they’re made pub­lic by the grand jury, giv­ing them the op­tion to ei­ther agree or dis­agree wholly or in part with the find­ing – re­quir­ing a de­tailed writ­ten ex­pla­na­tion as to which sec­tions the city dis­agrees with.

The Lathrop City Coun­cil typ­i­cally meets on the sec­ond Mon­day of ev­ery month at Lathrop City Hall – lo­cated at 390 Towne Cen­tre Drive in Lathrop – at 7 p.m. For ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, or to ob­tain a copy of the agenda or the sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion, visit the City of Lathrop’s web­site at www.ci.lathrop. ca.us.

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