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RE: Enforcement Question

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Not always the case that someone in government can do something for you.  In
the U.S. a local government without a law can't do anything.  Same thing for
state and federal. There are not always laws, especially for something like a
collapsing retaining wall on private property.

I know I used to work for a building department as the "deputy building
official" and I had a similar situation. It was a 3' tall retaining wall on a
property line that was collapsing and one neighbor wanted me to force the
other neighbor to get a permit and fix it.  It wasn't going to hurt anyone
and it was a civil issue, but the politicians and local politically appointed
bureaucrats don't care. 

A local government can't enter private property without permission or a
warrant, except for abandoned properties. They can't post a dangerous
situation without seeing it and so if they don't have permission to enter
they have to see it from the public way.   If they can't see a collapsing
retaining wall from the public way or a neighboring property with permission,
a building department can't do anything unless you invite them on the
property or they have a warrant. Construction sites with permits are
different of course.

I live in the styx.  We don't have land use ordinances "zoning".  Some people
like it that way, until a developer tries to up a race track or an all night
trap/skeet range next to their residence.  No law - nothing the government
can do about it for you.  Then again it is nice not having anyone I can't
have 2 broken down snow mobiles in the backyard or that you have to paint
your house pink.




 

-----Original Message-----
From: Daryl Richardson [mailto:h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)shaw.ca] 
Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2008 9:39 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Enforcement Question

Gary,

        Somewhere along the line I'm sure there is an authority that can act.
If it's not the Village it's the County; if it's not the county it's the
State (or in Canada's case, it's the Province); otherwise there would be no
rule of law in the land.

        In Alberta's case we have the Province of Alberta Safety Codes Act. 
The 1995 edition of this act provides for a maximum fine of $10,000 for a
safety violation of the building code plus $1,000 per day that the situation
remains unsafe for a first offence and double those values for subsequent
offences.  Surprisingly, it's the Contractor who is on the hook for the fines
not the Design Professional.  Mind you, I expect that the courts would allow
the Contractor to recover his losses (at least the initial fine but probably
not the fine for delay in correcting the safety violation) from an
incompetent or negligent design professional in at least some cases.  I'd be
surprised (make that astonished) if all other states and provinces didn't
also have similar legislation in place.

Regards,

H. Daryl Richardson

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Gary L. Hodgson and Assoc." <ghodgson(--nospam--at)bellnet.ca>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2008 7:04 AM
Subject: Re: Enforcement Question


> Why does the local authority have to have an ordinance to act.  Do they 
> not have to enforce the building code?  The authority has to protect the 
> public even if the retaining wall is on private property.  What about 
> children?  Also, Paul has an obligation as an engineer to protect the 
> public and the very first thing I would do if I were in his shoes would be 
> to write a letter to the municipalty, the owner and send copies to my 
> lawyer and the city's lawyer.  Been there, done that.
> Gary
>
> Haan, Scott M POA wrote:
>> If the local government does not have an ordinance giving them authority 
>> to
>> action against a dangerous structure / condition on private property then
>> they have no jurisdiction to due anything about.  You can report it but 
>> it
>> isn't going to help.
>>
>> Most local governments will at least have some kind of law to get rid of
>> "attractive nuisances" which are like abandoned buildings that attract 
>> kids
>> but are dangerous or attract vagrants etc...  I don't think a retaining 
>> wall
>> would be considered an attractive nuisance.
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Daryl Richardson [mailto:h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)shaw.ca] Sent: Friday, 
>> March 07, 2008 8:24 AM
>> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
>> Subject: Re: Enforcement Question
>>
>> Paul,
>>
>>         It might be interesting to see what would happen if you called 
>> the
>> local television station, or maybe even the local police, since it is a
>> situation where someone could get very badly hurt.
>>
>> Regards,
>>
>> H. Daryl Richardson
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Paul Feather" <PFeather(--nospam--at)se-solutions.net>
>> To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
>> Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 9:58 AM
>> Subject: RE: Enforcement Question
>>
>>
>> To quote the report "failure of the retaining wall is inevitable, the
>> only uncertainty is when".
>>
>> They still want nothing to do with it.
>>
>> Paul Feather PE, SE
>> pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net
>> www.SE-Solutions.net
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: sscholl2(--nospam--at)juno.com [mailto:sscholl2(--nospam--at)juno.com]
>> Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 8:46 PM
>> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
>> Subject: Re: Enforcement Question
>>
>> I believe the key is whether or not you indicated to the City:  a
>> potentially dangerous condition; i.e. the possibility of the wall
>> falling down.
>>
>> Stan Scholl, P.E.
>> Laguna Beach, CA
>> _____________________________________________________________
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