By Ed Martin, Editor

The Lemoore City Council, at its Tuesday meeting, will discuss a letter written by Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Garcia, and approved by all but one of the commissioners that councilmembers take a second look at their “business-friendly” policy that commissioners say is creating confusion and blighted conditions within the city.

According to the letter, “it is a well-known fact that the city council in its effort to be more business friendly, has advised staff in both the planning department and Lemoore Police Department to only investigate and cite violations that have received complaints” rather that actively enforce violations throughout the city.

City Council Agenda

Code Enforcement 

The only commissioner opposed to sending the letter was Bill Wynne who suggested that the city staff could be overworked and that staff should respond to complaints only. He also criticized Garcia, who he says has been in violation of the code for over two years.

Garcia owns a business at 450 D Street and has a sign on his building in violation of the code, yet he was not asked to remove it or has he been cited for it, suggested Wynn.

“The code violations brought forth by citizen complaints should have a higher priority than just the enforcement people going down the street looking for violations,” he said.

Garcia was quick to respond saying he intentionally left the sign in order to highlight the ineffectiveness of the code-enforcement process. “I did highlight my building intentionally just to show that there is a lack of code enforcement,” he said in response to Wynn. “And certainly a lack of proactive citations which has led, in my opinion, and the opinions of many in the city and some of the commissioners, that has led to a decline in the look and appeal of our business districts.”

He did in fact report the violation and city staff responded quickly and remedied the situation. “But the point is that shouldn’t be the process,” said Garcia. “The process should be that we have a code enforcement officer and they need to be allowed to enforce the codes, and not wait for myself or Mr. and Mrs. Citizen to report it. I think the problem is that commissioners, including myself, don’t necessarily have a full grasp on all the codes, and what is a code violation. The average citizen certainly doesn’t either. So that’s why we need the professionals, who understand much better than we do, and whose job it is to enforce it and actually do their jobs.”

Garcia added that he’s sure the council had good intentions when it adopted the “business-friendly” policy and told city staff and police not to enforce it. He said that it is clear now that the policy is not “business friendly” but rather “un-business friendly.”

In February Garcia presented planners with a powerpoint presentation outlining many code enforcement violations that have gone unchecked, including his. “It’s only going to become worse and less manageable with time.”

Wynn wasn’t convinced. “I fail to understand how we can expect the general population of the city of Lemoore to respect the ordinances when we as commissioners ignore them.”

“Exactly,” responded Garcia. I left it there and I still haven’t been cited. There is no code enforcement. I should have been cited two years ago. I left it there on purpose. There is not clear code enforcement happening. It was a conscience decision. I think it’s a perfect case in point.”