Chandler Council updates residential property code - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler Council updates residential property code

January 5th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler Council updates residential property code

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

The city has changed enforcement codes dictating how Chandler residents must maintain their properties to include new restrictions on signs, parked cars and “animal excrement.”
Chandler officials recently updated its neighborhood codes for the first time since 2007 and said some of the new rules are intended to maintain the aesthetics and vitality of its communities.
Residents will not be allowed to have stagnant pools of water on their property, post signs on street lights or utility poles without the city’s permission or let their pets go to the bathroom wherever they want.
“No person who keeps or controls any animal shall permit any manure or liquid discharge of such animal to be unloaded, left or dumped in or upon any ditch, street, alleyway, sidewalk, vacant lot or public property within the city,” the code states.
City Council authorized its new list of neighborhood codes earlier this month and they are expected to take effect in 2021.
Stephen Erno, the city’s neighborhood services manager, said the revised codes are meant to be more concise, comprehensible and relevant to problems impacting Chandler residents.
“It’s intended to both deal with the current conditions as well as the long-term sustainability of neighborhoods,” Erno said.
City staff spent months cleaning up the code’s language, he added, so that residents would be able to better understand when they needed to correct something on their property.
“It increases transparency by having this type of code that is easier for the public to navigate,” Erno said.
The codes revised some rules outlining how residents can sell cars on their property.
Chandler residents can now display only one for-sale vehicle at a time and display no more than three cars within a calendar year.
The sale cars must be registered to the property’s owner.
Any resident doing repair work on their car at home only has 10 days to complete the work and vehicle paint jobs are prohibited, according to the new codes.
The city is further prohibiting parked cars from being covered in bed linen, plastic sheeting or any type of tarp. Cars visible from the street can now only be enclosed with a manufactured vehicle cover.
Another revised rule prohibits residents from letting their yards deteriorate into dirt lots and requires all exposed dirt to be covered with some sort of natural or artificial material.
“No person shall allow or permit any portion of the front or side yard of any residential property that is in public view to be absent of landscaping material,” the rule states.
The updated codes also require all driveways and walkways be free of any “blighted appearance” or “hazardous conditions.”
Over the last few years, Chandler annually sees about 5,000 reported cases of residents not following one of its neighborhood codes.
Though a resident found in violation of the city’s codes is subject to a civil citation, Erno said it’s rare for Chandler to quickly penalize a resident and take them to court.
Less than 1 percent of violations result in a citation, he noted, and only 12 citations were issued in 2019.
Chandler has relaxed its enforcement even further this past year in order to not burden families who may have been economically impacted by the pandemic.
The city will only issue a citation when it’s exhausted all other remedies, Erno said, and every citation must be pre-approved by a supervisor before it’s issued.
Financial penalties have been changed to include a fee structure that increases fines for every violation a resident commits within a two-year period. Fines are now $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second and $750 for the third.
In order to prevent code enforcers from having to issue penalties, the city partners with nonprofits whose volunteers clean up the messy properties of elderly homeowners unable to do the work themselves.
About 150 households have received such help over the last three years.
The updated code further streamlines the city’s abatement process, which takes place after a resident doesn’t respond to notices to fix the hazardous conditions of their property.
On average, it would take about 100 days for the city to gain legal authority to go on the property and remove the hazard. The new code shortens the timeline to about 60 days.
Before bringing the revised codes to Council this month, city staff spent several weeks gathering input from residents – who had mixed feelings about the new rules.
While some supported the changes and called them long overdue, others felt they are oppressive and onerous.
“I do not agree with these ordinances,” said Leticia De Los Santos, who lives in northern Chandler. “It is a far reach of (the) government and the poor citizens of Chandler will not stand for it.”
Eric Vogel, another resident, found the rules pointless and objected to the additions that regulate parked cars and vehicle repairs.
“The City of Chandler should not be concerning itself with how pretty someone’s private property looks,” Vogel said. “Anyone who cares about this already lives in an HOA.”
But some city leaders believe the revised codes are fair and written in a way to target the residents who repeatedly refuse to maintain their property.
“This makes it cleaner, quicker to get these neighborhoods cleaned up,” said Councilman Matt Orlando. “We’re giving them another tool in their toolbox to go after some of the bad actors.”