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Williams Introduces Land Use Enforcement Bill to Give Counties More Control, Discretion

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, on Monday introduced Assembly Bill 514, which would provide counties with more local control and discretion over fines imposed for violations of the county’s Land Use and Development Codes.

“AB 514 will promote greater compliance with county ordinances by enabling the local agency to impose appropriate and proportional fines, and ensure the county’s land use codes are enforced while keeping the local environment intact,” Williams said.

Specifically, AB 514 gives local governments the authority to raise local fines for violators of land use codes who did not obtain a permit where one is available. These land use codes focus on large events or the building of structures which would alter the local landscape. The current maximum allowable fine amount is insufficient to deter violators of the Land Use Enforcement Codes, and allows entities to visit a county without being appropriately accountable to land use codes.

In the case of Santa Barbara County, there was a large commercial wedding for out-of-town residents who had the means to go through the permit process. The event included over 300 guests on a residential property that did not have the benefit of permits. Permit review would have addressed public safety and traffic concerns for an event of this magnitude. In this case, the county was only allowed to fine this owner $100 for the purposeful violation. This amount is insufficient to deter property owners who can easily absorb this as part of their routine business operating expense.

AB 514 is sponsored by the County of Santa Barbara who believes that increased penalties for one-time violations would be a greater disincentive and promote greater compliance with County ordinances. AB 514 ensures that the county’s land use codes are enforced thereby ensuring that the county’s policies regarding land use and development continue to be met.

— Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.


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