Code Enforcement Process
The ordinance violation process ranges from 10 to 42 days. Average time for voluntary Compliance by the property owner being notified is 18 days after receipt of initial violation (online, phone, fax, email, or verbal).
This is the process Code Compliance goes through with every property potentially in violation in the City of San Marcos.
Citizens can call 512-393-8440 or submit online complaints to report properties in violation and to get updates on the status of prior complaints. Code Compliance Officers also sweep their areas inspecting buildings and lots for City Ordinance violations.
If an active code violations case does not already exist for a reported property, Code Compliance creates a case in MyPermitNow, the City's parcel-based case management system, and citizens can follow the status of that case by providing an email address, phone number, or by calling back for updates.
Code Compliance inspectors follow a dynamic work queue in the MyPermitNow system to perform detailed inspections of lot conditions with digital photography and clear lists of violations of City ordinances. Our target for the average time from a complaint and creation of a case to inspection is 48 hours.
After an inspection is completed and violations have been documented, the inspector performs their due diligence to identify every person who is an owner or has a legal interest in the property. Once defendant's parties are identified, further research locates possible addresses where notice must be sent.
Code Compliance inspectors are trained to bring the property into voluntary compliance by communicating directly with the property owner and/or any person who has care, control, or custody of the property. The failure to bring the property into compliance after the friendly reminder, a Notice of Violation is sent to all interested parties at every identified address, via regular and certified mail. In addition, a notice may also be place on-site, attached to the front entrance of the dwelling or staked in the yard.
Code Compliance inspectors may schedule a conference with the property owner to discuss the violations observed on the day of inspection. This conference provides the owner another opportunity to discuss the condition of the property and request additional time to bring the property into voluntary compliance. Owners may also bring printed evidence of substantial work in progress. If an owner cannot attend his or her requested hearing, they may appoint a representative to appear on their behalf.
Concerned citizens may also request a Public Hearing with the municipal court within the ten-day period after receiving notice or if requested in writing within 30 days of the imminent health correction or it is automatically waived. The property owner may also bring recent photos and share testimony indicating continued conditions of public nuisance. Code Enforcement inspections and photographs will be used as evidence of violations.
The property owner, within the ten-day period after receiving notice, may submit a written request for a Public Hearing with the municipal court or it is automatically waived. The municipal court judge will conduct a hearing within 20 days of the request. Code Compliance inspections and photographs will be used as evidence of violations. If the judge finds from a preponderance of the evidence that the property remains in violation and constitutes an immediate threat to the health, life or safety of any person, the city may be given the authority to abate and charge the expenses to the owner. If the judge does not make this finding, the city will bear the expenses.
8. Court Summons
Code Compliance inspectors may issue citations to appear in front of The City of San Marcos Municipal Court Judge. This court hears cases that result in the failure to comply. The City of San Marcos Prosecutor will request if the case is heard by Judge or by Jury at the preliminary hearing. At this time the Prosecutor may reset the case (continue to a future hearing date) or dismiss the case based on evidence showing that the property has been brought into full compliance with minimal fees due.
The Judge or Jury during trial may find the defendant not guilty and close the case without further City action or may find the defendant guilty and issue post-judgement action with fines and penalties attached. If a property remains in violation of the City ordinances, a Notice of Judgment will be issued to the owner(s) and if not appealed, will provide that the City have the authority to remediate the violations on the property.
If a guilty judgment is recorded, the City can performs abatement which may include; mowing or clearing of high grass and weeds, removing discarded personal property, trash, or rubbish, and removing/securing unsafe conditions. Unsafe structures may be selected by Code Compliance for demolition. Once a building is demolished, the will continue to address nuisance related violations on the vacant property. This abatement action on the part of the City will not remove fines against the owner(s).
Following the abatement a lien is placed on the property, through the City of San Marcos Legal Department. The Lien remains on file until satisfied by the property owner. Properties approved for lien foreclosure will have writs filed with the Civil District Court and will be subsequently turned over to the sheriff's office to be sold at auction.
Sale proceeds will first pay off liens, taxes, and sale costs and any other recorded liens to a third party. Remaining funds, if any will go to the original property owner(s). The City's larger goal in this process is to transfer neglected or abandoned properties to new owners who will make repairs and abide by the City code. View a list of upcoming sales.