LANCASTER — The Lancaster City Council, today, will consider the second of two required approvals for a proposed ordinance to amend Titles 1, 5, 8, 9 and 12 of the Lancaster Municipal Code in regard to administrative citations for misdemeanor and civil offenses, and the implementation of a process for fee reduction and appeal for administrative citations.
The proposed ordinance would also give the city manager discretion to create policies and procedures to further implement each Title. Title 1 refers to General Provisions, Title 5 refers to Business Licenses and Regulations, Title 8 refers to Health and Safety, Title 9 refers to Public Peace, Morals and Welfare and Title 12 refers to Sidewalks, Streets and Public Places.
“As the City looks forward to establishing its Hybrid Policing Program, it is appropriate to expand appeal and review processes for cited persons and establish processes for waiving or reducing citation penalties for those cited persons who can demonstrate indigency is in the public interest, while providing persons who commit such offenses an opportunity to avoid criminal proceedings,” a staff report by City Clerk Andrea Alexander said.
The City Council unanimously introduced the proposed ordinance at the Dec. 13 meeting.
“Is the ACLU going to sue us again?” Mayor R. Rex Parris asked at the meeting.
City Attorney Allison Burns said this is in conformance with what the ACLU had requested.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued Lancaster and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, in February 2021, alleging an administrative citation system that is designed and enforced to punish poverty, in violation of the California Constitution.
“In the City of Lancaster, people who are homeless are treated as criminals and subjected to citations that carry fines far beyond their means to pay,” the ACLU said in a 2021 statement announcing the lawsuit. “They can appeal, but in a Kafka-like situation, the city demands that a fine be fully paid before an appeal can be heard.”
People experiencing homelessness had been subjected to fines of $500 for the first citation and $1,000 for the second, without the possibility of an appeal unless full payment is received, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court petition.
Anyone who could not pay a citation within 30 days would see the fines referred to a private debt collection agency that imposed an additional $150 fine, the petition said.
If a person is not able to pay a citation penalty within 30 days, the city threatens to block the person’s driver’s license renewal and to file a claim against their income tax return, in addition to referring the citation to the debt collection agency.
The proposed ordinance sets forth a fee schedule for any person convicted of a misdemeanor or infraction with the fine not exceeding the penalty amounts or community service hours.
For example, monetary penalties for littering are $100 or four hours community service, $200 or eight hours community service, or $500 or 12 hours community service.
A camping or lodging violation would be $25 or two hours community service, $75 or four hours community service or $150 or eight hours community service.
The City Council will meet at 5 p.m., in Council chambers at City Hall, 44933 Fern Ave.
I'm in favor of the proposed changes. Having the option to pay the fee or do community service for small offenses is a good thing. We pay for everything in either time or money. Plus, if someone is faking poverty in order to collect money for "hospital bills" or "funeral costs" (there's a kid on 10th and K that dies or gets cancer every month, it seems), they're likely to pay the fine.
The ACLU has become a Group of Parasites...they need to be crushed.
Well said 👏👏👏
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