Tehachapi Police officers were called to a residence on South Snyder Ave. a little after 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, due to signs placed in the front yard of a home owned by John Kamplain. Kamplain had placed a large sign in his driveway containing foul language aimed at city hall.
Kamplain said the signs were in response to his and his brother's vehicles being towed from the property by the city.
Kamplains' Ford F250 was not in running condition and had expired plates. He said he had received a notice from the city he had to register the vehicle as Operational or as Planned Non Operational and he could not store it in the driveway.
Kamplain's brother Kelly also had his vehicle, a Chevy S10, towed from the driveway.
Both of the brothers insist they do not know the current location of their vehicles, however Kamplain did indicate it would cost him $400 to retrieve it.
According to Police Chief Jeff Kermode, there is no campaign underway to deal with non-operable vehicles or other Municipal Code issues. He said the Code Enforcement officer is responding on a complaint basis, as was the case in this situation.
"Once a violation is observed in response to a complaint, our goal is to obtain voluntary compliance to remedy the situation," the Chief said. "We are more than willing to meet with a property owner to discuss a reasonable timeline to get a problem corrected. If the violator chooses to ignore the situation, we then move into the enforcement mode."
The Chief provided a chronology related to Kamplain's vehicles dating back to mid-December, 2012.
He said Code Enforcement first inspected the property based upon a citizen complaint about abandoned and/or inoperable vehicles on the property. Vehicles were found to be on the property in violation of the municipal code, he said, and on Jan. 14 a 10-day notice to correct was mailed to the registered owners of the vehicles and to the property owner.
On Jan. 16, the chief said, Code Enforcement tried to explain the municipal code to the property owner by telephone and the property owner was totally uncooperative, taking the position that the City could not tell him what to do on his private property.
He noted that on Jan. 22 the property owner attended the City Council meting and spoke during public comment about the matter. During his statement to the City Council he said that although his vehicle is registered as PNO (permanently non-operational), he frequently used the vehicle.
On Feb. 4, the chief said, the property owner and another person came to City Hall to discuss the matter.
"The property owner was loud, rude, and uncooperative," the chief said. "As a result of the meeting, he was granted another 30 days to resolve the matter. A follow-up inspection was scheduled for March 6."
On that date, the chief said, the follow-up inspection was conducted and two vehicles were still found to be in violation, one still being registered as a permanent non-op, and the other with registration having expired in July of 2010. Both vehicles were towed to All Valley Towing."
Under the California Vehicle Code, the chief said, vehicles that have been abated as a nuisance cannot be returned to the owner.
"We did our best to try and accommodate the property owner by providing him with an additional six weeks beyond the 10-day notice to resolve the situation," the chief said. "His failure to work with the city to resolve the matter left us with no other option than to remove the vehicles."
The City of Tehachapi's Municipal Code Chapter 10.24 addresses abandoned or inoperative vehicles.
According to the code, the city ordinance allowing their removal is designed to prevent conditions "tending to reduce the value of private property, to promote blight and deterioration, to invite plundering, to create fire hazards" and creating a health and safety hazard unless vehicles are stored in garages or behind six foot closed fences and not visible from public or private property.