Mayor wants fresh take on Calabasas septic law – Calabasas Real Estate

Mayor wants fresh take on Calabasas septic law

2011-04-07 / Front Page
Feels ordinance is too punitive
By Sylvie Belmond

A new City Council responding to its disgruntled constituency could bring about a shift in the ongoing battle over Calabasas septic tanks.

Hours before the changing of the guard on the Calabasas council March 23, city workers conducted a code enforcement operation at a rural property in Old Topanga that rekindled lingering hostilities between the city and its residents.

Critics say the enforcement crackdown was instigated by former Mayor Barry Groveman who sought to punish those property owners who disobeyed the city’s new building and septic codes.

James Bozajian, the new mayor, says the city’s policy regarding sewers and septic tanks needs to change. A political fight could be brewing.

The property in the 3500 block of Canon Drive is one of six parcels whose owners were recently sued by the city for declining to have their septic tanks inspected.

But according to City Manager Tony Coroalles, the inspection in late March inspection had nothing to do with septic tanks. The city was checking the site in response to complaints about foul odors, water infiltration and substandard living conditions.

“Had we not received a tenant complaint, we would not have had any reason to inspect the property,” Coroalles said.

Upon receiving the tenant grievance, city staff asked for permission to visit the Canon Drive property, but the landlord refused. The city obtained a court warrant to compel the inspection and called the owner to make an appointment in order to avoid the appearance that the visit was a “raid.”

Some 20 people, including members of the media, were invited by the opponents of the city to witness the code enforcement.

Attorney Steven Gambardella said the city targeted the Canon Drive property because the owner publicly opposed the city’s new septic tank inspection policy, and he said that the person who complained about conditions on the property was a disgruntled tenant.

The attorney, who represents the six property owners who declined septic tank inspections, said he would file a temporary restraining order to halt further action by the city.

Gambardella alleges that conduct of the city and its staff— while enforcing septic system regulations—serves to degrade the value of the property in question and causes distress for its owner.

“There is ample reason to believe that the conduct of officials was outside of the law,” Gambardella said.

Coroalles said Groveman and the rest of the council were not aware of the March 23 Canon Drive inspection.

The Calabasas City Council only writes the laws and ordinances of the city. “They don’t get involved in the enforcement of those laws. I am tasked . . . with the responsibility for enforcing those laws,” the city manager said.

Not sure which side of the fence you fall with regard to this matter of Calabasas and it’s septic laws but this is an interesting article that sheds some new light on the subject.

Posted on Calabasas Homes-Calabasas Real estate – Santa Monica Homes-Santa Monica Real Estate

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