§ 86.09.180  Recovery of Costs.
   This Section establishes procedures for the recovery of administrative costs, including staff and County Counsel time expended on the enforcement of the provisions of this Development Code, other than administrative citation cases, to correct a violation. The intent of this Section is to recover County administrative costs reasonably related to enforcement.
   (a)   Record of Costs.
      (1)   The Department shall maintain records of all administrative costs incurred by responsible County departments, associated with the processing of violations and enforcement of this Development Code, and shall recover the costs from the property owner in compliance with this Section.
      (2)   Staff time shall be calculated at an hourly rate as established and revised from time to time by the Board.
   (b)   Summary of Costs and Notice.
      (1)   At the conclusion of the case, the Director shall send a summary of costs associated with enforcement to the owner and/or person having possession or control of the property by certified and first class mail.
      (2)   The summary shall include a notice in a form approved by the County Counsel, advising the responsible party of their right to request a hearing on the charges for County cost recovery within ten days of the date of the notice, and that if no request for hearing is filed, the responsible party will be liable for the charges.
      (3)   In the event that no request for hearing is timely filed or, after a hearing the Director affirms the validity of the costs, the property owner or person in control shall be liable to the County in the amount stated in the summary or any lesser amount as determined by the Director.
      (4)   The costs shall be recoverable in a civil action in the name of the County, in any court of competent jurisdiction, or by tax assessment, or by a lien on the property, at the County’s election.
   (c)   Attorney’s Fees.  In any action or administrative proceeding to abate a nuisance, the prevailing party in the action or proceeding shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees; however, the amount of attorney’s fees awarded to a prevailing party shall not exceed the amount of attorney’s fees incurred by the County in the action or proceeding. Further, an award of attorney’s fees in compliance with this Section shall only be allowed where the County elects, at the initiation of the action or proceeding, to seek recovery of its own attorney’s fees.
   (d)   Request for Hearing on Costs.  Any property owner, or other person having possession and control of the subject property, who receives a summary of costs shall have the right to a hearing before the Director on their objections to the proposed costs.
      (1)   A written request for hearing shall be filed with the Department within ten days of the service by mail of the Department’s summary of costs, on a form provided by the Department.
      (2)   Within 30 days of the filing of the request, and on ten days written notice to the owner, the Director shall hold a hearing on the owner’s objections, and determine their validity.
      (3)   In determining the validity of the costs, the Director shall consider whether total costs are reasonable in the circumstances of the case. Factors to be considered include:
         (A)   Whether the present owner created the violation(s);
         (B)   Whether there is a present ability to correct the violation(s);
         (C)   Whether the owner promptly corrected the violation(s);
         (D)   The degree of cooperation provided by the owner; and
         (E)   Whether reasonable minds can differ as to whether a violation(s) exists.
      (4)   The Director’s decision shall be appealable as provided by Chapter 86.08 (Appeals).
(Ord. 4043, passed - -2008)