Hemet’s rule: do as I say, not as I do – Part I

Photo by Rusty Strait / The Valley Chronicle
Dallas Milton has been having trouble with the City of Hemet’s Code Enforcement Department.

■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

Dallas Milton, a local landowner, has filed a claim against the City of Hemet for what he alleges is heavy-handed treatment from the city’s Planning Department and Gestapo-like actions of Code Enforcement.
Citizen Milton states: “Approximately 20 years ago my mother and I acquired 16 acres of land on the south side of State Street between Chambers Street and the Domenigoni Parkway. Five years ago we purchased an eight-acre parcel adjacent to our 16 acres, which at the time was a golf driving range, increasing our ownership to 24 acres.”
They were considering several ideas to develop the property that did not immediately come to fruition. However, two years ago Hemet Code Enforcement showed up at his door, alleging complaints about his property. Milton asked the officer what kind of complaints, but didn’t receive an answer. Instead, the officer began to question him about structures on his property.
Milton said the officer told him that the city had done some research and didn’t see where the two structures on his property were ever granted a building permit.’
“However,” said Milton, “when we purchased the original property, it came with a large mobile home behind a barn, a house with a mobile home attached to it. I explained that those structures came with the property and had been there for 40 years. We didn’t build them.”
“We got this complaint,” insisted the code enforcement officer, Milton recalled.
Imagine buying property and all the structures on it when it was located in the County of Riverside 20 years ago. Five years later it’s annexed by the City of Hemet and suddenly some official-looking dude shows up, says he is with the City of Hemet Code Enforcement and you got no right to your honestly-acquired buildings.
Mr. Milton, I would assume, was not only surprised but a whole lot confused. It seemed pretty strange to him.
“I did some research to find out my rights and why the City of Hemet was trying to tamper with them,” he said. The guy who said he was from Code Enforcement told Mr. Milton, “You’ve got two weeks to do your research.”
Milton quickly discovered that the County of Riverside had some problems with its record-keeping. A 1969 fire in the County Records Department destroyed all records for his land. In order to get a permit, building, plumbing, electrical and mechanical plans had to be submitted. If all four passed inspection, building could commence. However, permit plans were not required until 1974.
“I should have been grandfathered in,” says Milton, “because those structures had been on that property for years and years and years. The City of Hemet did not annex the property until 1984.”
That didn’t seem to matter to the guy from Code Enforcement. “You’ll have to prove that to us,” was his response.
At that point, Milton is beginning to wonder just what was going on. “I produced aerial photos of the land all the way back from 1969 to the present; photos that included the current structures. There were no city permits involved when those structures were erected,” he stated.
“I firmly believe that we should have been grandfathered in and I’d explained earlier on, and even agreed to bring everything up to code requirements. I told him that I’d work with his department to make sure whatever work needed to be done was done.” The message back to Milton was that they would have to submit his request to an attorney.
“Two months later I get a letter from an attorney the City had hired. It said I would have to remove those two structures and they gave me about a month in which to do it,” he said. “I was dumbfounded. You do not tell tenants to get out in 30 days when they’ve been there for several years. At best is a 60-day notice by law.”
Of course this came as a shock to his tenants.

Photo by Rusty Strait / The Valley Chronicle
The allegedly illegal structures were built on Dallas Milton’s property decades before he purchased it. City of Hemet Code Enforcement personnel have demanded adherence to city code even though the property was originally in Riverside County and was annexed by the City of Hemet years later.

“I gave them a proper 60-day notice,” said Milton. “Two of my tenants were medically or physically unable to find a new place to live and I could not be so heartless as to put them out on the street. So I brought them into my own home, where they are now living.” The couple occupying the ranch house was not facing such a complicated future; they were already preparing to move out of state. The fellow who had been living on the ranch for almost 10 years moved into the ranch house, and that is where he still lives.
Now, the home within the barn is also bothering city code enforcers, who claim that isn’t permitted either. The gentleman occupying that space has been living there for 19 years and no one has ever objected. It is more than a barn per se; the building contains a full house with all the proper installations of a home. The prior owner had a horse ranch on the property, says Milton, and during foaling season the owners moved into the barn to be near the mares.
Although Mr. Milton has strived to satisfy the City of Hemet, they either find further reasons to harass him or impose upon his property in other ways, which will be discussed in Part II of this continuing story.
Government can be an inconvenient pest. Sometimes it goes beyond the pale. A lot of folks will just give in and be done with it. Dallas Milton is not one who folds so easily; he believes he should have been grandfathered in and there are a number of knowledgeable individuals who agree with him. Like a television serial, there is more to come.
I would welcome any similar situations, if you would care to let me know.
Just sayin’.

One thought on “Hemet’s rule: do as I say, not as I do – Part I

  1. 1. The original and ultimate right to all property within the limits of the state is in the people thereof. Therefore, the City of Hemet has no jurisdiction over the property of the people. This matter should be about jurisdiction, not crying about the gestapo tactics or I should have grandfather rights.
    2. There is no wet ink signed public law that gives the City of Hemet administrative rights over the property of the people, just go down to the city and ask any man who works in code enforcement. They will tell you there is no law. It’s a code they didn’t even write.
    3. The City of Hemet can demand all they wish. Demand has no police powers. Why does the city use the legal tern demand, because if they use the word order, as we order you to get a permit, the city will have to pay you. Why you ask, because slavery is not permitted within California.
    4. No man shall be put to labor or his property taken without just compensation.
    5. Government actions resulting in a physical invasion, or physical damage to private property may constitute a taking.
    6. Government actions which interfere with the use and enjoyment of, or access to and from private property may constitute a taking.
    As you can see, I believe the city lacks jurisdiction over private property.
    If I got a demand letter, I would accept and ask them to put the demand letter in the form of and order. Require compensation to follow their orders. I believe that would be the proper response to code enforcement.

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