Thursday, June 26, 2014

(Shasta County) Grand jury rips county’s code enforcement process

June 24, 2014
Record Searchlight
By Jim Schultz

REDDING, California - Everything from code enforcement and police response times to autopsy protocols and the use of ankle bracelets by law enforcement came under the microscope of the 2013-14 Shasta County Grand Jury.
The jury’s final report, which comes out Wednesday, tackles a variety topics but focuses much attention to apparent flaws in Shasta County’s code enforcement process.
In its report, the citizen watchdog group says the lack of timely application of the county’s current code enforcement process has contributed to a large backlog of cases.
As of March, it reported, the county has a backlog of 1,728 building and land use code violations, of which 611 are more than 10 years old.
“There is a lack of specific time lines for the steps within the code enforcement process,” the jury says in its annual report. “As a result, the county does not conduct timely follow-up action to move cases to conclusion.”
Additionally, it says, the county’s permit tracking system is not providing enough information to clearly understand the type and the nature of the violations occurring within the county or which open cases still need to be resolved. The county’s Board of Supervisors, the report says, cannot provide effective oversight of the code enforcement process because it does not receive written reports about code enforcement activities and statistics.
In its report, the jury recommends a variety of steps to try to rectify the shortcomings, including requiring resource management staff to evaluate and prioritize code enforcement violations to help reduce the backlog.
In other findings, the grand jury maintains the Redding Area Bus Authority should “explore partnerships” to help increase ridership, saying RABA cannot keep pace with operating cost increases without increasing ridership. As such, raising rates or cutting services may be necessary.
Elsewhere, the grand jury says the Redding and Anderson police departments are unable to fully utilize crime information due to limitations in their computer system, and that it should seek grants to help finance improvements in their crime analysis capabilities.
Although it said the computer-based management system used by the two departments has evolved over many years, both departments lack the ability with current computer software to analyze, on a real-time basis, existing crime location, frequency, time and other factors.
“Currently, crime types and locations are manually plotted on maps with push-pins,” the jury’s report says, adding that an automated system would allow real-time analysis and quicker responses to crime trends.
Among other findings, the grand jury says:
Electronic monitoring is increasing attendance at court hearings and work-release assignments for those wearing ankle bracelets.
There are no educational services available for illiterate inmates at the Shasta County Jail.

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