Encinitas raises fine for repeated violations of city code


Those who repeatedly break Encinitas’ city code — from unpermitted business signs to noise — will soon be hit with a larger fine.

The Encinitas City Council voted unanimously April 15 to double the fine for a third code violation to $1,000.

Council agreed last fall to consider more expensive citations after some residents argued that city fines aren’t steep enough to deter downtown Encinitas bars from breaking the rules.

The city’s fine schedule will stay the same for a first infraction ($100) and second ($200). But now, third and subsequent fines will run $1,000 each, after being previously set at $500.

If the violation continues, a notice is recorded on the property’s title. From there, it could go to court.

Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said at the April 15 meeting that going from $200 for a second violation to $1,000 for a third would speed up compliance for those who keep breaking the rules.

“I think it’s both symbolic and substantive to shorten the time period and get to the higher fine,” she said.

Shaffer added despite few residents or businesses receiving a third violation, a tougher fine at this level would provide more of a reason to follow city code.

City Planning Director Jeff Murphy said those breaking the rules are given a shot to come into compliance, with more time for building permit violations that can’t be fixed overnight. Last year, 90 percent of violations were corrected without fines after city notification.

Twenty-seven individuals or businesses that remained out of compliance were cited $100 in 2014. Of those 27, seven went on to receive at least two $500 fines.

Cities like Del Mar and San Marcos charge $1,000 for a fourth violation, but Encinitas is the first in San Diego County to jump to $1,000 for a third infraction.

Murphy said the new fine amount will take effect in late May or early June.