The City of Brentwood’s Code Enforcement Division is key to the city’s functionality and vitality in servicing the community. Rebranding as the “Community Enrichment” Program as of last spring, the responsibilities and goals remain the same; to investigate violation complaints and to work with residents and property owners in striving to maintain a clean, safe, and healthy community, while improving and maintaining the quality of life for the community.
“Our mission statement is ‘Striving to enhance the quality of life for Brentwood residents and business owners’,” said Senior Code Enforcement Officer Roberta Portillo-Bienemann. “We respond to reported concerns as well as conduct proactive canvasses in both residential neighborhoods and with businesses. Our goal is obtain voluntary compliance through education.”
Brentwood’s Community Enrichment program underwent significant re-engineering last spring with a goal to focus on better communications with the community and a program that focuses on the reasons why these city codes are important to the city, citizens, and businesses.
“We work very hard to achieve compliance through education rather than fines, although the fine process is there to ultimately achieve compliance if other approaches have failed,” said Brentwood City Manager Gustavo Vina. “We have an awesome team in community enrichment and they have done great work over the last year or so under our new program. The ‘canvassing’ approach has brought great efficiency to our work and really works well to educate the public on the issues.”
Not dissimilar to other cities, common code violation examples include garbage containers visible in public view, unmaintained landscaping, inoperative vehicles, trash or debris, substandard dwelling units, unpermitted construction, illegal posting of signs, businesses operating without a business tax certificate, graffiti, and zoning violations.
“We work with residents and businesses to take an active role in improving and maintaining the quality of life in their neighborhoods,” said Portillo-Bienemann. “Brentwood’s Community Enrichment program helps keep the city a healthy, safe and attractive place to live and work.”
Portillo-Bienemann references the “Broken Window Theory”, which is the concept that each problem that goes unattended in a given environment affects people’s attitude toward that environment and leads to more problems.
“Consider a building with a few broken windows,” said Portillo-Bienemann. “If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars. Staff investigates concerns of unmaintained properties such as these to prevent a breeding ground for more serious violations.”
Administrative citations are issued for non-compliance and may be issued daily; $100 for the first citation, $200 for the second citation, and $500 for the third and subsequent citations. In the event that a property owner fails to correct violations, the city may record a notice of pending action (clouding of the title) against the property in question. A summary abatement can occur for imminent life or safety concerns.
In 2018, the City of Brentwood reported 3,400 cases of non-compliance.
“An individual can report a concern via the city’s app; Brentwood Connect 24/7 which can be downloaded from the Apple app store or Google Play, or by calling Community Enrichment at 925-516-5405,” said Portillo-Bienemann. “We have created helpful resource material on our webpage to assist residents and business owners with understanding municipal code requirements.”
Added Vina, “Quality of life in Brentwood is on everyone’s mind and I know we all want to hang on to this great environment and lifestyle we enjoy in Brentwood. The work of Community Enrichment directly and positively impacts this quality of life.”
More information on Brentwood’s Community Enrichment program can be found at the following link: https://www.brentwoodca.gov/gov/cd/code/default.asp
An avid bay area sports fan, Sean’s favorite teams include the 49ers, Giants, Sharks, and Warriors.