Pubdate: Mon, 28 Mar 2016
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2016 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Eric Vodden


More than $660,000 in marijuana cultivation code enforcement fines 
imposed on a dozen Yuba County property owners will go before county 
supervisors this week for final approval.

Supervisors, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, will hold 12 separate 
hearings to consider individual cases in which code enforcement fines 
were imposed for violations of the county's cannabis growing law. The 
proposed fines include three separate cases in which individual fines 
exceed $100,000 and one for more than $200,000.

The hearings address several in a series of code enforcement actions 
after last summer's board approval of dramatically tightened cannabis 
growing regulations. Another series of hearings is scheduled for 
April 12, said Jeremy Strang, supervising code enforcement officer.

Yuba County assessed about $2.3 million in administrative penalties 
in 2015, following approval of the ordinance that began being 
enforced last May. Of that, about $319,000 has been collected to go 
back into costs for site cleanup.

Typically, liens are also placed on the property for the amount of 
the unpaid fines.

None of the Tuesday hearings is an appeal of code enforcement fines, 
but rather cost accountings that have to go before the board. 
Supervisors will determine whether the fines are accurate and reasonable.

Strang said the proposed assessments are based on a strict 
interpretation of the ordinance that requires fines be assessed at a 
rate of $100 a day per plant from the time of citation until plants 
were eradicated.

He noted one of the fines being addressed Tuesday exceeds $200,000, 
but that it is possible it will be reduced by the board.

"Is $200,000 reasonable?" Strang asked. "That's what the code 
specifies and not for me to say. That's for the board to say."

The $202,712 in fines was imposed on property owner Christopher Gomes 
for 149 plants found last August on property at 4755 Pacific Ave. in 
Olivehurst. The tenant and cultivator was listed as Ava Hammett.

A lengthy list of violations for which the code enforcement fines 
were imposed include cultivation of marijuana outdoors, cultivation 
in a dwelling, lack of a permitted accessory structure and lack of 
county registration.

Another $113,265 fine is proposed against property owner Fahid Ravaid 
for 65 plants found last October at 4676 Pacific Ave. The tenant is 
identified as Julio Rodrguez.

Also, a $102,699 fine is being considered against property owners Lay 
and Tieng Khammougkhoune for 95 plants found in June at 1108 Murphy 
Road, Olivehurst. The tenant is listed as Khamphone Onedara.

Fines in other cases to be addressed by supervisors Tuesday range 
from $7,242 to $87,626.

At least two lawsuits have been filed against Yuba County over its 
policy of targeting property owners even if they aren't aware of the 
grows. After subsequent rulings against Yuba County, a county 
official said internal procedures will be changed to comply with court rulings.

Strang said there are another 10 code enforcement cultivation cases 
that have been opened so far in 2016 in which 118 plants have been destroyed.
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