Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Squeezing blood from a (code enforcement) turnip

May 2nd seemed like a good day to write another letter to the city. Again, I ignored the "Case Closed" message and approached with the attitude that an ongoing discussion could yield results. My coworkers severely restrained my impulse to call this man out. If he was in cahoots with my neighbors, then he was lying. If he merely took them at their word, then he's guilty of bad judgement, and laziness or negligence in performing his duties.

For the second time, I requested information regarding "grandfathering" and its termination, in this case. For the second time, I addressed the "plywood caper" and dismissed it as a manipulation. And, with a few days of journaling the icemaker's operation, countered the lie of "a professional timing device." Then I answered his twice-asked question about involuntary compliance. (Dumb question from a police officer.)

From: Richard Behling [mailto:rbehling@ssica.com]
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 2:26 PM
To: Osborn, Rex
Cc: Baird, Greg; Rey, Lantz; Bricker, Dave
Subject: RE: Response to your Code Enforcement Question

Dear Mr. Osborn,
The report of your investigation and findings heartened me. Your discussion on the various permits, etc., was informative and appreciated. I have a question regarding your statement that “there is no food preparation at this location.” Freezing water into ice that is sold or used in business for human consumption is viewed as food processing by the State of California, Department of Public Health, Food and Drug Branch. Besides the housing of the vending trucks, does the Cantina Permit issued by the County of San Joaquin include anything else, such as making ice?

I still need you to look into the questions posed in my letter of April 4th about “grandfathering” – How does it get documented? When and how does it terminate? The answers to these questions will, 1) Restore integrity, in this instance, to Manteca’s zoning and land use administration, and 2) Let me know when the defect against my property (living next to a business in a residential neighborhood) will be removed entirely.

As to the “changes made by the property owners” resolving and closing the noise case, no further comment about the plywood “barrier” needs be made than what I said about it in my last letter.

On the other change, you stated that “[t]he owners have placed the machine on a professional timing device that only allows the machine to operate during daytime hours.” What!? The compressors ran all Monday night / Tuesday morning after your visit!

Roof-mounted compressor Icemaker
10:00 p.m. to ?? 10:18 to 10:25 / 10:38 to 10:45
1:45 a.m. to 5:11 a.m. 4:01 to 4:08 / 4:22 to 4:30 / 5:05 to 5:11
6:45 a.m. to 6:57 a.m. 6:53 to 6:55 / 6:56 to 6:57 (“false starts”)
7:10 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. 7:27 (“false start”)

Wednesday morning the machines came on at 6:25 a.m.
Thursday morning they came on at 6:21 a.m. and Thursday night (last night) was an all-nighter.

Roof-mounted compressor Icemaker
Before 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. 9:50 to 10:05 / 10:20 to 10:27 / 10:41 (left for work) to 10:48 /
11:02 to 11:09 / 11:23 to 11:30 / 11:43 to 11:52 /
12:04 to 12:12 / 12:24 to 12:32 / 12:44 to 12:53 /
(Note: The outside lights were on and at least one owner was in the yard on and after 1:00 a.m. The compressors continued running.)
1:02 to 1:16 / 1:29 to 1:37 / 1:51 to 1:59 / …

(ceased recording specific times when I moved from bedroom to living room couch.)

The Municipal Code section ordinance prohibits, ”…continuous, repeated or sustained noise… between the hours of ten p.m. and eight a.m. that is plainly audible from the residential dwelling unit’s property line.”

Twice you have asked what I meant when I wrote: “I need verifiable assurances that the owners received such education and see (and hear!) evidence of real compliance, or I will pursue enforcement action toward involuntary compliance.” Again, you are referred back to my previous letter of April 4th, where I wrote: “…Police Officer Hooten informed me that my next noise complaint call to his department will require a citizen’s arrest warrant against my neighbors - I will have to take them to court and let a judge sort out the mess between me, my neighbors, and the City of Manteca.” Short answer – arrest and adjudication.

Case closed? Please reread my letters - don't shred, toss, delete, or dispose of them yet.

Richard Behling, a still hopeful citizen of Manteca

As usual, this code enforcement officer/public affairs spin doctor never answered MY twice-asked questions, but suggested I check myself into a mediation service with my neighbor (a known bloodless turnip, who dried up years before.)

From: Osborn, Rex [rosborn@ci.manteca.ca.us]
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 8:20 AM
To: Richard Behling
Cc: Baird, Greg; Rey, Lantz; Bricker, Dave; Hooten, Jeffery
Subject: RE: Response to your Code Enforcement Question

Mr. Behling:

This case is closed as far as the City of Manteca is concerned. If you feel the need to take civil action against your neighbors for the nuisance, that is within your rights. If you feel the need to take action as suggested by Officer Hooten, I caution you that if you take that route you accept all the liability for such an arrest, and without additional proof that arrest would be questionable from the police standpoint.

Based upon your comments and your diligence, connected with comments I gleaned from your neighbor, your situation very well could use a professional mediation service. San Joaquin County Mediation Service could provide if both parties agree a neutral mediator to help resolve your issues. This service does not investigate the nuisance as claimed by you, it only provides a means for neighbors like yourself to get along.

Richard, the City of Manteca with all of our resources have investigated this complaint, and we find no violation on the part of your neighbor.

Thank you for your patience during our investigation.


Rex Osborn, PAO
Supervisor Code Enforcement Officer
Office of the Chief of PoliceManteca Police Department

The concluding sentence, "We find no violation on the part of your neighbor," really rankled and I knew it was not true. But where do I go now and to whom?

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