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Neighbors seek to help neighbors resolve Code Enforcement violations

File photo, a sign marks the Sunrise Ranch Neighborhood Area 6 on Mariposa Avenue. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
For residents in the Sunrise Ranch neighborhood of Citrus Heights the idea of neighbors helping neighbors is a strong one, but liability concerns and other issues recently put an end to one idea.

Months before the city’s new Beautification Crew, residents of the neighborhood, located in the area around Mariposa Avenue to the north of Old Auburn Road, floated the idea of taking care of blight issues such as overgrown yards with volunteer help from the community. But as residents approached the city to further organize the effort last year, resident Gina Olivares said questions about liability started coming up.

The idea started when Olivares’ children needed to earn money for a trip to Washington D.C. by doing yard work.

“We found through the yard work, there was a lot of older folks who could afford to pay $10, $20, but couldn’t necessarily afford a landscaper,” Olivares said, noting the price was just for raising funds for the trip. “We could help with the beautification, just starting here in Citrus Heights.”

Olivares said she was also motivated by police visits to her neighborhood area where officers said reducing blight also reduces crime in an area.

The idea started to gain momentum when Olivares brought the idea to other neighborhood association members, with one of the goals being to help residents resolve Code Enforcement violations.

“This is a predominantly senior community,” she said. “There’s people that can’t do that or don’t have the funds or resources to do that, and we’re a neighborhood association that can help.”

When the association brought the idea to Code Enforcement, Olivares said city officials were supportive, but raised questions about liability. Issues surrounding injuries to volunteers or residents, damage to property such as sprinkler systems or plants, and insurance concerns were questions that the association simply couldn’t resolve.

Citrus Heights Police Services Supervisor Debra Nathan confirmed in an email to The Sentinel that an inquiry had been received about the feasibility of helping resolve code violations, saying the request had asked Code Enforcement to “share addresses that have code violations and also take requests for citations so neighbors can directly encourage improvement activity.” Nathan, however, said “existing violation locations are confidential,” but encouraged neighbors “to connect and build relationships with fellow neighbors to know who might be having difficulty and how to potentially help each other and chip-in.”

Although Sunrise Ranch developed a waiver for residents to sign, Olivares said involving Code Enforcement ended up not being feasible and the idea never got off the ground.

Olivares said members of her neighborhood association are still interested in the idea, if another option arises.

“I think that there’s plenty of people, not only in our little area but people in the community, because that type of thing is needed year round,” she said, adding that more volunteers would make the job easier. “I would be willing to help. I think there’s people here that are willing to help, that are still interested in doing stuff.”

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