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§ 2-9-1-14  ENFORCEMENT.
   (A)   Police powers. Any person violating the anti-price gouging ordinance is subject to the home rule and police powers of the city to adopt and enforce ordinances necessary to the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Any conflict between the provisions of the anti-price gouging ordinance and any other present or future lawful exercise of the city's police powers shall be resolved in favor of the latter.
   (B)   In addition to issuance of a civil investigative demand, as set forth in § 2-9-1-13, the City Attorney is authorized to undertake such activities as are reasonable and necessary to enforce the anti-price gouging ordinance. At the option of the City Attorney, the City Attorney may initiate enforcement with a civil investigative demand, Notice of Violation, or in a court of competent jurisdiction.
   (C)   Compliance inspections. The City Attorney shall designate the Enforcement Authority to conduct compliance inspections and related duties pursuant to the anti-price gouging ordinance as follows:
      (1)   Undisclosed inspections. The Enforcement Authority may conduct an undisclosed inspectorial search of the public areas of a building, premises, or vehicle(s) at all reasonable times, including during business hours.
      (2)   Consensual inspections.
         (a)   The Enforcement Authority may conduct an inspectorial search, with the voluntary consent of an occupant or custodian of the building, premises, or vehicle(s) to be inspected, who reasonably appears to the Enforcement Authority to be in control of the building, premises, or vehicle(s) to be inspected, or who is otherwise authorized to give such consent.
         (b)   Before requesting consent for an inspectorial search, the Enforcement Authority shall inform the person to whom the request is directed of the authority under and purposes for which the inspection is to be made and shall, upon demand, exhibit an identification card or official city document evidencing their authority to make such inspections.
         (c)   Inspections undertaken pursuant to this subsection shall be carried out with due regard for the convenience and privacy of the occupants, and during the daytime unless, because of  the nature of the premises, the convenience of the occupants, the nature of the possible violation or other circumstances, there is a reasonable basis for carrying out the inspection at night.
         (d)   Unless advance notice would be likely to cause the suspected violation to be temporarily eliminated so as to frustrate enforcement, notice of the purpose and approximate time of an inspectorial search of an area not open to the general public shall be sent to the occupants or custodians of the building, premises, or vehicle(s).
      (3)   Nonconsensual inspections.
         (a)   Upon sufficient showing that required consent to an inspectorial search has been refused or is otherwise unobtainable within a reasonable period of time, the City Attorney may make application to the applicable district court for an inspection order/ search warrant. Such application shall be made to a district court having jurisdiction over the building, premises or vehicle(s) to be searched. Such application shall set forth the following information:
            1.   The particular building, premises, vehicle(s), or portion of a building, premises, or vehicle(s) sought to be inspected.
            2.   That the owner or occupant of the building, premises, or vehicle(s) has refused entry.
            3.   That inspection of the building, premises, or vehicle(s) is necessary to determine whether they comply with the requirements of the anti-price gouging ordinance.
            4.   Any other reason necessitating the inspection, including knowledge or belief that a particular method, act, or practice is occurring in the building or vehicle(s) or on the premises that is a violation of the anti- price gouging ordinance.
            5.   That the Enforcement Authority is authorized by the city to make the inspection.
         (b)   The application shall be granted and the inspection order/search warrant issued upon a sufficient showing that inspection in the area where the building, premises, or vehicle(s) in question are located, or inspection of the particular building, premises, or vehicle(s), is in accordance with reasonable legislative or administrative standards, and that the circumstances of the particular inspection for which application is made are otherwise reasonable. The district court shall make and keep a record of the proceedings on the application and enter thereon its finding in accordance with the requirements of the anti-price gouging ordinance.
         (c)   After execution of the inspection order/search warrant or after unsuccessful efforts, as the case may be, the City Attorney shall return the inspection order/search warrant to the district court with a sworn report of the circumstances of execution or failure to execute.
      (4)   Disclaimer. The anti-price gouging ordinance shall not be construed to hold the city or its authorized representatives responsible for any damage to persons or property by reason of the inspection or reinspection authorized hereunder, or failure to inspect or reinspect, or the issuance of any registration, license, or permit, or other adopted city instructions, rules, or regulations.
   (D)   Warning letter. In the interests of efficiency, prompt compliance, and settlement, in the sole discretion of the City Attorney, if the City Attorney has reason to believe any person has violated or is violating any provision of the anti-price gouging ordinance, the City Attorney may issue a warning letter to such person(s). No person is entitled to a warning letter, and warning letters are not subject to appeal.
   (E)   Notice of Violation. The City Attorney may issue a Notice of Violation to any person who violates any provision of the anti-price gouging ordinance. The person may be given an opportunity to respond to the notice and correct the violation within ten days, or in a reasonable amount of time, as determined by the City Attorney.
      (1)   Any person having any title or legal interest in the person the City Attorney found violated the anti-price gouging ordinance may appeal from the Notice of Violation, or any action of the City Attorney or Enforcement Authority, other than a warning letter, to the Independent Office of Hearings, pursuant to Chapter 2, Article 7, Part 8 ROA 1994 et seq., provided that the appeal is made in writing and filed within ten days of service of the Notice of Violation. Failure to timely appeal the Notice of Violation makes the Notice effective.
   (F)   Civil fines and business license.
      (1)   The City Attorney, in their sole discretion, may impose civil fines, civil penalties, and other remedies.
      (2)   Civil fine. Any person(s) violating the anti- price gouging ordinance shall be subject the following provisions:
         (a)   Each sale or offer in violation of the anti-price gouging ordinance is considered a separate offense;
         (b)   Any person who violates any provision of the anti-price gouging ordinance shall be subject to a civil fine not exceeding $500;
      (3)   Business registration, license, and permit.
         (a)   The city will not grant or renew a business registration, business license, or business permit for a person engaged in trade or commerce in violation of the anti-price gouging ordinance.
         (b)   The City Attorney may revoke the business registration, business license, or business permit of a person the City Attorney, Hearing Officer, or court has previously found to be in violation of the anti-price gouging ordinance and who has failed to comply with such order of the City Attorney, Hearing Officer, or Court.
         (c)   Exception: If a person has come into compliance with the anti-price gouging ordinance, then the city may grant, renew, or restore the requested business registration, business license, or business permit, so long as the person meets all other business registration, business license, and business permit requirements.
   (G)   Civil proceeding. Violation of the anti-price gouging ordinance will not result in criminal prosecution.
(Ord. 2020-020)