SANTA MARIA - If you live next to an eyesore or some other type of suburban blight there are laws on the books against it.
In Santa Maria, cracking down on municipal code violators has become a top priority.
"It's a never ending situation", says Code Enforcement Officer Michelle Tasseff, "I mean you could never say that you didn't have anything to do, because there is constantly something going on."
Tasseff spends most of her day driving around looking for violations of the city's many municipal codes.
"This area is a problem", Tasseff says during a recent drive through the city, "as you can see people have all kinds of vehicles, we have shopping carts, we got trash, you'll have boats, trailers."
"This is probably one of my bigger problem streets", Tassef says driving down a neighborhood street on the city's northwest side, "out of all of them over here, this is the one I seem to be having the most problems with."
Tasseff says one of the more common violations she sees are illegal garage conversions.
"You always question a garage when the garage never opens", Tasseff says, "what we are looking for primarily is people using their garage as a living space."
Another issue requiring weekend patrols has been an explosion of garage or yard sales in Santa Maria.
"There's a three dollar permit from the city building department", Tasseff says about the city requirements, "garage sales are only allowed to operate on the property once every quarter, the merchandise has to be garage sale merchandise, it can't be new merchandise, we have a lot of people that turn garage sales into a business."
From illegally parked cars to overflowing trash bins or dumpsters to landscaping that grows out of control.
Tasseff says the city will work with violators to achieve compliance.
"Sometimes it takes awhile", Tasseff says, "I know sometimes neighbors can get a little upset because they want instantaneous results, but sometimes in order to get what you need, which is the ultimate goal, to resolve the violation, sometimes it takes a little longer than some people would like."
"Get out of here", screamed an angry local resident as Central Coast News tried to document the problems in their front yard that has made them a chronic city code violator since last year.
"What we're telling you that you don't f***in understand he has until the tenth with the city, so get out of here", exclaimed the angry tenant about the city's leniency toward their code violations, "because its f*** stupid that's why, get it through your f*** head its dumb, okay, its stupid."
"I'm two seconds from losing my cool here, I've been cool about this, I'm getting real pissed", added another tenant of the home.
"We are used to dealing with people that are hostile", Tasseff says, "usually we can get them to calm down if not we are instructed to leave and return later on with possibly the police officer if necessary."
The City of Santa Maria has been more successful with the carrot rather than the stick convincing property owners it's in their financial interests to comply with the local laws.
"So as the neighborhood gets better and you see more and more people on the street fixing up their property, it kind of becomes contagious", Tasseff says, "a lot of them will go along and start cleaning up as well."
Those who refuse to comply with city codes face hefty fines and other penalties.
In one extreme case, the City of Santa Maria actually condemned and demolished a home that was abandoned.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:27 GMT
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