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My Neighborhood

Something needs to be done about our overcrowded neighborhood, too many people living in a single family homes and not taking care of properties.

We have lived in our house for 33 years and in the last few years some of the old homeowners on our street have either passed away, have been moved to assisted living facilities or moved to adult communities and have sold there homes. The homes are being occupied by several families the one house is a small 3 bedroom no more than 1200 square feet and has 9 cars at least 9 adults and 4-5 children. There is another house that rents rooms and have at least that many cars at 1 time they park on the front lawn and it is just an eyesore. My question is isn't there an ordinance for the amount of people that can occupy a house and what can we do about this?

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Watzon McWats November 21, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Same problem in my neighborhood. Only been here three years, but neighbors agree that density has increased. Here are some applicable municipal codes:
Watzon McWats November 21, 2012 at 02:38 AM
14-30.020 Prohibited parking. It shall be unlawful to use any front yard, as required by this title, for the parking or storage of any vehicle, motor home, trailer, airplane, boat, parts of any of the foregoing, or building materials, except building materials for use on the premises and stored thereon during the time a valid building permit is in effect for construction on the premises; provided, however, the provisions of this section shall not apply to any motor vehicle, motor home, trailer, or boat in full operational and running condition parked in any off-street parking area. 14-30.030 Off-street parking areas. “Off-street parking area”, as used in this chapter, shall mean that area, as required or limited by this title, which is maintained with a paved surface in accordance with City improvement standards and is used or required for the parking of vehicles, trailers, or boats. Cliffs notes: Front yard parking must be on paved surfaces.
Watzon McWats November 21, 2012 at 02:50 AM
14-45.010 Purpose. This Chapter sets forth health and safety standards for dwelling units within the City, including: maximum occupancy standards which, when exceeded, require neighborhood mediation (see Section 14-14.040 of Chapter 14-14 of this title) to address issues related to overcrowding. Issues may include parking, noise, unsanitary conditions, safety, and other neighborhood health and safety compatibility issues that may arise as part of the neighborhood mediation process. (§ 1, Ord. 1201-06 (CM), eff. October 26, 2006) 14-45.020 Housekeeping unit occupancy. If a housekeeping unit in the City is found to exceed the residential occupancy level set forth in the following table, then the property owners and tenants of such property shall be required to participate in a neighborhood mediation process as set forth in Chapter 14-14 of this Title. 1br/1ba studio, max occupancy: 3 1br/ba home, max occupancy: 4 2br/1ba home, max occupancy: 8 3br/1ba home, max occupancy: 8 3br/1.5ba home, max occupancy: 12 3br/2ba home, max occupancy: 12 4br/2ba home, max occupancy: 16 5br/2.5ba home, max occupancy: 16 Note: Watsonville occupancy laws are actually VERY lax. Most cities only allow two persons per bedroom plus an additional one or two. I don't have any muni code to cite, but I know you also can't have people living in unconverted garages or sheds, and a converted garage or shed needs to be permitted of course.
Watzon McWats November 21, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Other potentially applicable codes: 14-23.030 Property development standards. (e) Parking. One uncovered off-street parking space shall be provided for an accessory dwelling unit. An additional uncovered off-street parking space shall be provided for the second bedroom of an accessory dwelling unit. This parking shall be in addition to the parking required for the principal dwelling on the same site and shall be located and designed in accordance with the Watsonville Municipal Code. Parking for the accessory unit may not be in tandem with parking for the principal residence, but may utilize the same driveway for access. 14-23.040 (a) No more than one accessory dwelling unit is allowed per parcel.
Watzon McWats November 21, 2012 at 03:00 AM
14-28.040 Domestic animals. In an R-District, or in conjunction with any residential use in any other district, there may be kept on any lot a total of not more than six (6) domestic animals as defined in this title, not more than three (3) of which may be dogs. (a) Such animals and poultry shall under no circumstances be permitted to run at large but shall be at all times confined with a suitable house or coop with enclosed runway. (b) Such house or coop and runway shall at all times be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition so as to be at all times free from offensive odors or other nuisance features. (c) No part of any such house, coop, or runway shall be located less than twenty-five (25') feet from any dwelling or place of business. (Ord. 506-80 C-M, eff. September 11, 1980)
Pablo Villagran November 21, 2012 at 01:58 PM
who enforces this?
Catherine Bobeda November 21, 2012 at 03:26 PM
This is crazy I can not bilieve 12 people in a small 3 bedroom is legal or healthy!
Cathy P. November 21, 2012 at 03:33 PM
@Catherine: unfortunately it's true. I attended the city council meeting some years ago when our illustrious city leaders deemed it perfectly legal to have 4 adults per bedroom in a 3 bedroom house. It's more than crazy! Your situation sounds like a nightmare...I'm so sorry.
Cathy P. November 21, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I have neighbors (renters) who park their extra cars (3 of them) on the lawn in the backyard. I can see them from my upstairs back window. It's an eyesore and must be in violation of SOME kind of hazardous materials code since I'm sure the cars leak oil and/or gasoline into the soil (?) The landlord does nothing.
Cathy P. November 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I believe Code Enforcement is responsible for this and I think we have like 2 guys for the whole city. Ridiculous!!!
Watzon McWats November 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Yup. Last I checked they have about a years worth of backlog. I know because someone complained that we had people living in sheds, even though we're just about the only house on the block without kids, roommates, or extended family. But either way, they showed me the complaint and it was a year old. Once they do show up though, they will go over every square inch of your property and cite you for any little thing they can. One person will talk to you while the other storms around your house inspecting every nook and cranny without even asking. Inside sources tell me (and I believe it based off of personal experience), that they are very hard on anyone who looks like they might have a penny or two, and very lenient on poor folks and people housing migrant workers. I've heard from a very reliable source that they'll walk right through these 20 person households with actual unconverted garages, sheds, illegal electrical, etc, and act like they haven't seen a thing. Then they come to a household like mine, two middle class working folks not from 'round here, and cite us for stuff on our 80+ year old house that was there probably before we were even born... Sorry for the rant, just haven't had the best experience with these guys. But yes, there are only a few of them, and it will take them a long time to respond to any complaint - legitimate or not.
Watzon McWats November 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Same thoughts. I was astounded to find out that it was legal myself. Hell, more than the maximum limit isn't even illegal, it just mandates neighborhood mediation - good luck with that. The kinds of people that house four folks per bedroom don't mediate.
David H. Perez November 21, 2012 at 07:48 PM
@Watzon McWats: ". . . they are very hard on anyone who looks like they might have a penny or two, and very lenient on poor folks and people housing migrant workers. I've heard from a very reliable source that they'll walk right through these 20 person households with actual unconverted garages, sheds, illegal electrical, etc, and act like they haven't seen a thing." Well, if this is accurate, this shows you where the enforcement people's interests lie - like most of the people who work for the city. And it ain't with you and me, Watzon. Do you or anyone else reading this know, in the case of a rental house, what it would take to sue a landlord for damages done to our property values due to the urban blight caused by their renters?
Patricia November 22, 2012 at 01:30 AM
A curious thing ... who is reporting all the rent collected from the excess tenants of these houses? The city is really missing out on all the monies being collected by the landlords or tenant who rented the property initially. As for health issues, well there are codes that most people are expected to practice.

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