The Goleta City Council met Monday night to discuss and revise existing public nuisance ordinances in an effort to assist the city’s code enforcement program.
With an audience of only two community members, the council began with an open comment period. Goleta resident Barbara Massey said she is concerned about the city’s treatment of abandoned gas stations as hazards to the community.
“It’s a community concern – at least think about it,” Massey said.
Council members said abandoned gas stations are cited under Goleta Ordinance 10.2.14. According to the ordinance, unsafe buildings and structures are “nuisances.”
The council also discussed existing ordinances that the city has had difficulty enforcing, such as the Chapter Seven Ordinance, which says any residential area with four or more cats or dogs over the age of four months is considered a nuisance.
“It’s totally unclear what this means,” Mayor Pro Tempore Cynthia Brock said. “We can’t even comment on it.”
Council members said the ordinance should be redefined to exempt animal boarding houses from being classified as a nuisance.
“We’re dealing with a zoning ordinance when talking about [the Chapter Seven Ordinance],” Mayor Jack Hawxhurst said. “We’ve identified a lot of errors … there is a lot to be done.”
The council said there is a need to be clearer when defining conditions in city ordinances.
“There may not be a lot to be done, it’s a matter of clear definitions,” City Attorney Julie Briggs said.
Council members also addressed Ordinance 18.6, a fly-control ordinance which states that no person shall permit the accumulation of decaying animal, vegetable or mineral matter.
“What about the people with horses?” Brock said. “We have a process of a nuisance, not a definition. This is still confusing … we’re looking for a statement of what a nuisance is under the county ordinance.”
The council said most of the confusion about ordinances is due to the language used in definitions.
“This is the language of the uniform codes; it’s the language that the city and courts have been using … it’s not the prettiest language and it’s not always clear,” Briggs said. “Language that you don’t like is the language that courts use.”
No new ordinances were created at Monday’s meeting, and existing public nuisance ordinances were not changed.