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City to Hold Public Hearing Soliciting Comments on Nuisance Dogs and Property Conditions on Fourth Street

The Susanville City Council will conduct a Public Hearing on March 15th, to solicit comments regarding nuisance animals and conditions of real property owned by John K. Murray at 1409 Fourth Street in Susanville. According to the City the hearing will include discussion of the dogs at large, unreasonable noise, non-licensed dogs and more.

The Public Hearing will be held at 5:00p.m., or as soon thereafter as the agenda permits, in the Susanville City Council Chambers at 66 North Lassen Street.

All interested parties may attend and voice their opinions or concerns. Written testimony may be submitted in lieu of physical appearance. Please submit written testimony by the end of today, March 10th, for council review and consideration.

According to the city’s announcement, the subject property at 1409 Fourth Street, “has been a source of frustration for the neighborhood and the community for some time.”

Cody Loflin, the city’s Code Enforcement Officer explained that records available at the time of the investigation show an attempt to bring this property into compliance started as early as May 19, 2017.

“Throughout the years neighbors have filed complaints relating to disturbances caused by the property owner and his many tenants. Though in recent months, the property has not had tenant issues, the core of the problem has remained, that being the numerous dogs on the property.”

“Dogs have been a primary source of unreasonable noise, odors, and fear.”

Code Enforcement obtained records from the Susanville Police Department relating to calls for service at the address.

“From September 2017 through August 2022 there were at least 116 calls for service from this property. The 116 calls for service do not necessarily account for all calls as multiple phone calls or requests throughout the day may not necessarily be represented in the final number.”

Loflin explained that it would be reasonable to infer that during this statistical period the community’s public safety partners (Susanville Police Department, Susanville Fire Department, Sierra Emergency Medical Services Alliance) have responded to 200-300, if not more, calls for service at this residence alone.

“On August 9, 2022, Code Enforcement successfully obtained a nuisance abatement order to compel the property owner, John Murray, to begin abating conditions fostering a nuisance on his property in the hope that the abatements would alleviate the issues facing the community. Unfortunately, Mr. Murray proved not to be persuaded to take full ownership and responsibility for the issues plaguing Fourth Street.”

In November 2022, Code Enforcement began assisting the Susanville Police Department relating to animal control issues as the department had not filled their vacant animal control position. At this time reports of John Murray’s dogs, dogs consistent to that of a wolf-dog hybrid, were consistently observed to be roaming at large and chasing wildlife.

“The reported locations were generally in the area of Fourth Street as well as the southern end of the city such as Richmond Road, South Street, Cypress Street, and the Maurino Manor Subdivision. Code Enforcement obtained several written statements regarding the dogs. The statements all named John Murray as the owner of the dogs and that they were being kept on his property off Cheney Creek Road.”

“Specific to this set of complaints, there was only one statement that was received by a taxpayer of this city, while all other statements were from residents of the unincorporated territory of Lassen County.”

This matter escalated at the January 18th, city council meeting.

“Many residents of the City of Susanville and those that reside just outside within unincorporated Lassen County, voiced their concerns over the dogs owned by John Murray. This meeting and those that followed provided details that the dogs were roaming between Murray’s residence on Fourth Street and his property off Cheney Creek Road.”

The Susanville Police Department continued their efforts to bring Mr. Murray into compliance. Several citations for dog at large were issued by the Susanville Police Department and Lassen County Sheriff’s Office.

On February 15th, Code Enforcement received information from Susanville Police Chief Cochran that Mr. Murray had self-admitted to having a total number of 9 dogs within his Fourth Street residence.

“Mr. Murray was provided with notice of a violation of the nuisance abatement order issued against him by the Planning Commission. Mr. Murray was then notified of a public hearing to have a declaration by the legislative body of this city to name all the dogs owned by Mr. Murray to be a public nuisance and shall order the compliance to all local, state, and federal laws and to prohibit any activity that would foster a public nuisance to be allowed by his ownership of his dogs.”

Susanville Municipal Code Section 6.04.080 empowers the city council to declare any animal or condition of real property related to the harboring of animals within this city as a public nuisance and provide notice to the property owner with a timeline to abate said nuisance.

The city council shall consider any oral or written testimony provided to the council from any member of the public. To ensure the respondent’s due process rights, the respondent shall be provided an opportunity to provide information or defense of his actions to the city council.

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso Publisher/Editor
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