VISTA —The city of Vista is ramping up its efforts to reduce crime and service calls at multifamily complexes.
The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to adopt the Crime Free Multifamily Housing Program, which leaders hope will ultimately reduce the number of service calls and crimes at residential properties with 10 or more units.
Under the program, the city will have the authority to require complexes with 10 or more units to participate in the program if the “complex exceeds a threshold for service calls to the Sheriff’s Department in at least two of three successive six-month periods.”
“The threshold is exceeded if a complex has calls for service within a six month period that are equal to or greater than 25 percent of the units in the complex. For example, if a complex had 40 units, it would exceed its six-month threshold if it had 10 or more calls for service. When this threshold is exceeded in any two six month periods within an 18 month time frame, a Code Enforcement Officer may issue a Finding of Noncompliance,” according to the staff report.
The property owner would then need to remedy certain conditions on the site and meet certain qualifications such as attending an eight-hour seminar on crime-free multifamily housing provided by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department or hosting a crime-free multifamily tenant meeting.
The ordinance also allows for eviction if any prohibited activity is done on the property.
The importance of the program was embraced by the City Council. However, Councilman John Franklin urged his peers to define the type of service calls after one property owner expressed concern during public comments.
“This is creating some uncertainty,” Franklin said. “Here’s another regulation that’s poorly defined and it’s going to give someone at City Hall the ability to make the definition.”
Franklin said he wanted to give property owners and their tenants examples of service calls that would be considered a red flag under the program.
“I just want to demonstrate that we’re good regulators and we’re listening to the people we’re regulating,” Franklin said. “I like to give government narrow powers.”
After a brief discussion, the City Council agreed to adopt the ordinance but that it include a list of exempted service calls, a one year sunset clause that would allow city leaders to revisit the ordinance, and allowing for 60 days before enacting the program.
Councilman John Aguilera praised the program, saying it would reduce crime in Vista.
“This is going to help, quite a bit, in cleaning our city up,” Aguilera said.
There are currently 160 multifamily developments in Vista with 10 or more units. From July 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2015, a total of 55 of those developments had calls for service in excess of the threshold requiring participation in the Crime Free Multifamily Housing Program, according to the staff report.
The annual fees for the Crime Free Multifamily Housing Program are $850 for complexes between 10 to 50 units, $1,000 for complexes between 51 to 100 units, $1,250 for complexes between 101 to 200 units, and $1,500 for complexes with 201 units or more.
A revised ordinance will be presented to the City Council at its Aug. 9 meeting.
This story has been clarified since its original posting.
Hoa Quach has 15 years of experience in journalism, garnering multiple awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. She’s been named a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, featured in BuzzFeed during International Women’s Day and recognized by the California Legislature for her work. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.