Concerns about blight and code enforcement led the Ceres City Council earlier this year to budget for more staff. The goal of adding more code enforcement officers has been realized with the filling of those positions, City Manager Alex Terrazas announced last week.
“We do have a full contingent of code enforcement staff on the job these days,” Terrazas announced at the Nov. 14 council meeting.
The city now has three Code enforcement officers in Jeffrey Hopkins, Jeff Varni and Jack Taylor. The new personnel is being funded for two years by federal ARPA funds given to cities following the COVID pandemic.
Two part-time code enforcement officers named Oscar Hernandez and David Garcia joined the team this month and are focused on cleaning up illegal dump sites.
“They both work under Streets Division and partner with Code Enforcement,” said Ceres Police Captain Pat Crane who supervises the whole unit. “Their duties include removing illegal dumps, roadside weed abatement, cleanups throughout the city, returning shopping carts, picking up leaf and limb piles, reporting abandoned vehicles to assist our Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Unit and working hand-in-hand with our Code Enforcement officers whenever they need a hand.”
The unit has a full-time secretary in Lauren Medina.
The city also recently added a phone line for residents to report illegal dumps. The line is 209-538-DUMP or 538-3867.
“If you see an illegal dump out there, call 538-DUMP,” announced Terrazas at the council meeting. “It will get reported to our code enforcement staff and our staff will get out and clean it up. I’m hoping folks are seeing the improvement around town but we definitely have more resources devoted to code enforcement at this point.”
The working Code Enforcement supervisor would answer to the Ceres Police captain or lieutenant in charge. The city is ramping up efforts to crack down on illegal dumping which is plaguing Ceres and contributing to overall blight. Recently the Ceres City Council voted to hire another full-time code enforcement officer and two part-time employees. The additional staff is funded for two years with ARPA funds, the federal COVID relief money.
The public may report when they see someone in the act of discarding furniture and other items on streets or on the side of the road. In the case of an illegal dump in progress citizens may report it by calling Ceres Police dispatch at (209) 538-5712. Ceres dispatchers will ask the location and for any information on the violator.
The city plans to buy and install more surveillance cameras at some locations where illegal dumping is a chronic problem. The hope is to capture images of vehicles, perpetrators and license plates so police can track down the culprits.