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Donaldson claims code enforcement harassing him
City says neighbors have complained

Code enforcement officer Frank Alvarez and longtime Ceres resident Don Donaldson have had a number of contacts over the last few months. Donaldson complained last week at a Ceres City Council that he is being picked on and is "really agitated" about efforts to make him clean up his property.

Donaldson explained that he has been storing air conditioning units - including a five-ton condenser unit - for eventual installation in rental properties on his Joy Avenue residence. One of the units was purchased from the Ceres Christian Church before it was leveled to make way for the Ceres Community Center over a decade ago.

"He tells me that I can't leave my equipment," Donaldson said of Alvarez in delivering complaints at the meeting. "I have a tarp over all of them in my driveway where I put 20 yards of concrete because they told me I couldn't park my motorhome on my grass."

Donaldson has also been cited for various violations of municipal code, such as failing to keep garbage cans out of public view on days when garbage isn't being collected. He's also been cited because his RV has been hanging out in the street and interfering with the city street sweeper.

"I have four houses that I take care of. I have to have a place to keep all my stuff. Gentleman, I just put R-30 in two of my houses about a week ago. If he had come by he would have seen insulation all over the yard because we was putting it in my house. Whenever you have four houses you have to do the stuff yourself or you're not going to make any money."

He told the council that he's unwilling to shell out $50 to $60 per month to rent storage space at a facility.

Because of the storage of materials relating to his rentals, Alvarez has cited Donaldson for failing to have a business license.

"This has been two or three years he's on me," Donaldson said of Alvarez. "Just nit-picking, any little nit-picking he can do."

The city enforces most code violations on a complaint-driven basis. After the meeting Alvarez said he is acting on citizen complaints against the appearance of Donaldson's private residence in the R-1 zone.

"I've been working with that guy to clean up his yard forever," said Alvarez. "It's ongoing. It's a residential zone. It's not a commercial zone where he can do anything he wants."

Alvarez said he's given Donaldson verbal warnings but when no action is taken a citation is issued and they come with fines.

"This has been going on since June," said Alvarez.

Donaldson said his neighbors get away with garbage cans in view. He mentioned how he went around Ceres with a camera and took pictures to document that the city has garbage cans in public view behind the Third Street fire station and other locations.

Mayor Chris Vierra offered to meet with Donaldson.