Antioch Council discusses Code Enforcement; votes to pursue Family Justice Center

By Nick Goodrich

At their meeting on Tuesday night, December 8th, the Antioch City Council discussed two items, including issues surrounding Code Enforcement and a proposed East County Family Justice Center.

The city has been combating blight for some time, in an effort to present a stronger, cleaner Antioch, but has been faced with plenty of problems, including the homeless community and staffing shortages. Ryan Graham, with Antioch Code Enforcement, issued his report to City Council on Tuesday, addressing issues largely pertaining to the homeless community. Some of the problems Graham reported on included camping on public and private property, regulation of donation bins, dumping and littering, and graffiti.

Several residents addressed these problems during Public Comments, especially in regard to Delta Fair Boulevard, which has been the center of many residents’ negative attention for some time. Stephanie Sterling noted that Delta Fair—often full of litter, graffiti, and other blighting—was recently cleaned, and commended the city for taking action. She wondered, however, how long it would take the problem areas to become dirty again. Sterling noted that blighting detracts from the property value of surrounding homes, and she called for the city to hold business owners in the area responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of their properties.

Steve Huddleston, another Antioch resident, also addressed the state of Delta Fair Blvd. “One way or another, we need to take care of this problem,” he said. Huddleston lamented the fact that it took “60, 70, 80 complaints” before the city took action to clean the area; he asked the council to make sure it doesn’t return, as it often has, to it’s blighted state.

In his report to Council, Graham mentioned that it is, in fact, a property owner’s responsibility to maintain the cleanliness of their property. However, some owners fail to do so, in which case Antioch Code Enforcement officers will issue citations. When enough citations have been issued to an owner, Code Enforcement goes to the superior courts to obtain a warrant that legally forces the owner to comply and clean their property. Graham noted that Code Enforcement increased their citations to the maximum amount allowed—$100 for a first citation, $500 for a second, and $1,000 for a third – which has generated better compliance with property owners.

After Graham’s report, the City Council asked him if he thought Antioch’s ordinances perhaps weren’t strong enough to combat the blight problem. Graham disagreed, stating that city ordinances on the topic were sufficient; the problem, he said, is that Code Enforcement, in its current reduced state, simply can’t deal with the amount of issues that continue to crop up in the city.

“We have good ordinances to deal with it,” he said, “we just need the capacity to do it.”

Graham noted that a fully staffed Code Enforcement department would mean having six code officers in the field – and currently, he is only able to field two, who he said are faced with 300 to 400 backlogged cases. Graham reiterated his point, noting that Code Enforcement would be able to handle cases in a quicker and more efficient manner if more code officers could be hired to fill the vacant positions.

“Again, it’s just a capacity thing right now,” he added.

Mayor Wade Harper also noted that homeless asking for change on freeway off-ramps and street medians continue to pose a safety threat to themselves and motorists, another problem that Code Enforcement has been dealing with for some time. Graham noted that the best way to prevent this from reoccurring is simply to stop giving homeless people money on the medians. Donating to charitable institutions in the area that provide resources for the homeless, he said, is a much safer and more effective way of getting them the help they need.

After receiving Graham’s report, the City Council inquired about the availability of funds to support the hiring of new Code Enforcement Officers. City Manager Steve Duran promised to look into the issue and report back to Council. Council Member Monica Wilson stated that the city should be addressing causes rather than symptoms; Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock suggested the placement of signs to help combat blight, something that Duran acknowledged could be a possibility.

Family Justice Center effort moves forward

Ogorchock’s effort to locate a Family Justice Center in Antioch was also discussed by the council. Family justice centers in the East Bay offer a wide range of support for victims of domestic violence and other abuse. Ogorchock has been working to bring one to Antioch, with several council members echoing their support for the idea.

However, Ogorchock proposed holding off on a vote to begin the process until Antioch can coordinate with other cities who have Centers of their own. Council Member Mary Rocha was interested in finding out how other cities have funded their own centers; Wilson was similarly concerned with knowing the details of funding such a plan before a resolution is proposed. Council Member Tony Tiscareno asked for more feedback from County Supervisors before Council took any action.

On a motion by Ogorchock, the Council voted unanimously to direct city staff to continue working with other East County cities to gain more information and support before the process continues, with a plan to return to the issue in later meetings once more information has been gathered. The motion included appointing Ogorchock as the city’s representative on the issue.

Council agenda items

Toward the end of the meeting, Ogorchock asked city staff for a report on the agenda items proposed by council members, this year. Duran agreed to bring back a report.

The next council meeting is scheduled for January 12, 2016. Meetings are held in the City Council Chambers, located between West Second and Third Streets in downtown, or can be viewed on either Comcast Local Cable Channel 24 or view live streaming on the city’s website at

One Comment to “Antioch Council discusses Code Enforcement; votes to pursue Family Justice Center”

  1. Good suggestion from Lori Ogorchock. I can’t wait to read that report.

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