Morro Bay to hire code enforcement officers in response to grand jury report

Morro Bay
Morro Bay jmellom@thetribunenews.com

In response to a critical grand jury report, Morro Bay is hiring new code enforcement officers to move away from its historically complaint-driven regulatory process.

In May, the San Luis Obispo County civil grand jury published a report that said handling of citizen complaints for municipal code violations was ineffective and inconsistent. The jury recommended hiring a new code enforcement officer to proactively handle violations and respond to citizen complaints, a position that has been left vacant since 2005.

In a July 14 letter to San Luis Obispo Superior Court Presiding Judge Dodie Harmon, Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons wrote that the city had already begun that process prior to the report during discussions about the 2014-15 budget.

The city then included a $100,000 allotment for at least one code enforcement officer in the 2015-16 budget.

“While over some years, code enforcement in Morro Bay has been neglected, new leadership in the city is serious about markedly improving the quality of life in the community through a more effective code enforcement program,” Irons wrote.

The city said in a news release that it will conduct several months of community outreach before cracking down on code violations through the levying of any fines.

That outreach will include a new section to the city website on nuisance abatement to guide residents on the city’s most frequent code enforcement issues and how to properly address them.

Deputy City Manager Sam Taylor said Thursday that the city is looking to use those funds to pay for at least two part-time officers. He said the hiring process has already begun and will continue through next month.

City staff is expected to brief the council on its progress on Sept. 22.