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New restrictions on parking on front lawns, visible car repairs, drones,
parking on grass
The Ceres Municipal Code will soon forbid the parking of cars on front lawns as well as major repairs done in front of a house or in a driveway.

Reconstructing the Ceres Municipal Code has been an exhausting effort since November but as City Manager Toby Wells noted last week, the council is now downhill on the mountain.

Last week the council held public hearings on six titles – Title 9 (Public Peace, Safety and Morals), Title 10 (Vehicles and Traffic) and Title 19 (Code Enforcement); as well as Title 15 (Buildings and Construction), Title 16 (Benefit Assessment Districts) and Title 17 (Subdivisions).

The second reading and adoption will continue to Feb. 24 and become effective April 1.

In Title 9 the city is expanding the section on noise and added new restrictions on drones.

The council added language that clears up any ambiguity about loud music. At no time can anyone play amplified music so loud that it disturbs the peace, quiet and comfort of the neighboring inhabitants at any time. In addition, any amplified music played between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. that can be plainly heard at a distance of 50 feet from the source is a violation. The section can be enforced at any time of the day.

Joy Avenue resident Don Donaldson addressed the amplified music that he often hears coming from the nearby Smyrna Park. He said parties at the park should not be playing amplified music. Donaldson was told that music that can be heard 50 feet from the park source constitutes a nuisance and a violation that is citable. All he would need to do is call and complain. The council did not define decibel levels.

Under Section 14 (Firearms), the council continued with the prohibition of B-B guns, airsoft and paintball guns being discharged within the city limits.

The city is adding extensive restrictions on drone flying. Those restrictions include no flying of drones beyond visual line of sight, no flying at night, no drones higher than 400 feet and excluding takeoff and landing, no drone can fly less than 100 feet above any public street or sidewalk. Drones also cannot invade the privacy of residents. City officials may also issue “no fly” proclamations that specify the locations, dates, and times that drone operations are prohibited and shall be posted on the city’s website, at City Hall, and at the Police Department. Drone operators are required to verify whether a “no nly” proclamation is in effect prior to initiating Drone operations. No person can fly a drone within five miles of any airport; within 500 feet of any government building, including City Hall and the police and fire stations, or schools; or within 500-foot horizontal distance of any special event in the city, unless authorized by the city manager in writing.

The council also made changes to the code to prohibit the parking of vehicles on a front yard.

New restrictions also forbid the major repair of vehicles in public views in residential zones. Those repairs are allowed inside of a closed garage. The code allows a person, however, to allow a person to make minor repairs, such as a brake job or oil change, outside of a closed garage.

The code is also being changed that govern the parking of abandoned vehicles within public view on residential lots. The council wrestled about how to treat situations where people are storing “classic” cars on their property. The city will not force the abatement of a classic car in an active state of restoration. The new definition states that a “Vehicle of Historic Value” means a vehicle that qualifies for historical vehicle plates pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 5004.

A vehicle of historic value cannot be in an active state of renovation or restoration for a period of more than 90 days, whether consecutive or non-consecutive, out of any 12-month period unless city approval is obtained. That restoration cannot interfere with the peace of neighbors, including unreasonable noise, air emissions illegal water discharges to the storm water system or other environmental factors.

Minor changes were made to the code enforcement title relating to the service of notice and proof of notice.

Title 15

Most of the changes to the Title on Building reflect the 2019 version of the California State Building Code which updates every three years.

The appeals process was also updated.

Titles 15, 16 and 17 are expected to come back to the council on March 9.