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Aeolia Drive resident may win partial reprieve from $11,600 fine

Door-to-door solicitation ordinance tabled for now
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A man who owes the city more than $11,000 in property citations may only have to pay $600 after a City Council decision Monday night. After a long debate with no resolution, the Auburn City Council also decided to table a door-to-door soliciting ordinance, but OK’d an ordinance giving police more enforcement power over panhandlers. Jennifer Solomon, Auburn’s code enforcement officer, and Will Wong, director of the Auburn Community Development Department, asked the council to approve collections on four properties with outstanding bills to the city, approve the Tax Roll Assessment for Administrative Citations report and have a certified copy filed with the Placer County Auditor-Controller in order to collect on the citations. Of the four properties, only a representative from one, Craig Roland, who lives on Aeolia Drive, spoke at the meeting. According to Solomon, Roland converted his one-car garage into part of his house without obtaining a building permit to do so. Solomon said several neighbor complaints had come in about the property, beginning with reports of junk, debris and an inoperable vehicle that couldn’t be parked in the garage because it had been converted. Solomon said complaints began in October 2008 and citations for the property were issued starting in April 2009. After accumulating fines from continuing citations, Roland owed the city $11,600, Solomon said. Solomon said she made 15 visits to the property over the almost-three-year time span. Roland said he was not able to put the vehicle in another area on the property that seemed to have been created for parking because it was not accessible, so he couldn’t access either of the two parking spots he was supposed to have. “I was sort of in a dilemma of I could put the garage door back in, but I would still be one spot short,” Roland said. Roland said he did speak to city representatives and got a plan approved to begin parking in the backyard, but the home belongs to his mother and is in a trust, and his family didn’t like the idea of him parking in the back. Roland said then he decided to build a separate platform for parking, but the Auburn Public Works Department told him the retaining wall would be more than 42 inches tall, which is too high by city code. Roland said the wall would not actually need to be that high. Roland said there were also some financial concerns with having to pay for the citations and to construct the parking area. Michael Colantuono, attorney for the city of Auburn, said the city’s goal was not to collect fines but to create compliance, and that the council could work with Roland to have him pay a smaller fine if he could complete the work. The council voted 3-1 to approve allowing Roland to have 90 days to complete the necessary work while also having to pay $600. If he didn’t complete the work in time, he would have to pay the $11,600. The vote approved putting the citations from the four properties on the tax roll assessment in order to collect. Mayor Bill Kirby voted against the action and said he wanted staff to decide what Roland’s reduced amount should be. Councilman Kevin Hanley had to recuse himself because he lives near the Aeolia property. The council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would give Auburn police the right to cite panhandlers. After a second reading Monday, the council decided to table a second ordinance that would require permits for door-to-door solicitation. The ordinance is expected to come back to the council Aug. 22. Although the Journal previously reported the solicitation ordinance was unanimously passed by the council in June, that was only the first reading of the ordinance. The council heard a presentation on the ordinance by Retired Police Chief Valerie Harris and Chief John Ruffcorn. The discussion included possible elements of the ordinance including how long solicitation permits could be valid, as well as whether all groups would need permits, or just groups trying to make actual sales. Hanley said he felt the city should wait to pass the ordinance until staff had refined it, including talking to the business community about how it might impact them. He also said he thought any future solicitation permits should be free. “Let’s take our time to make sure it’s right,” Hanley said. “I don’t think we should charge a fee at all for this kind of ordinance.” For more on the council meeting, watch for future editions of the Journal. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com