About the Update
The existing property maintenance nuisance standards were adopted on January 7, 2014, in Ordinance Number 02-238 as Los Alamos County Code of Ordinances Chapter 18 Environment. These standards have been updated incrementally since 2014 to address issues as they arose. This update is the first comprehensive update of the nuisance standards within Article II of Chapter 18 Environment. The purpose of the update is to clarify and improve the efficiency of the nuisance standards and code enforcement processes that reflect contemporary best practices.
Updating the Scope
Updating the Process
Purpose of Technical Review
International Property Maintenance Code (IMPC)
The update focuses on the standards and code enforcement process of physical property outlined within the first two articles of Chapter 18 of the Los Alamos County Code of Ordinances; Article I General and Article II Nuisances. Updates to Article 1 General will include but are not limited to the content of Sec. 18-32. - Scope, Sec. 18-33. - Responsibility, Sec. 18-34. - Definitions, Sec. 18-36. - Notice, Sec. 18-37. - Complaints, and Sec. 18-38. - Injunctions. Updates to Article II will address property-based nuisances, such as unsafe or unsanitary structures or sites, offensive outdoor storage of items like outdoor furniture or inoperable vehicles, and overgrown weeds. This update does not address behavioral property-based nuisances such as violations of criminal laws, barking dogs, or inconsiderate neighbors, which are covered in Chapter 18 Article III Noise and Article IV Smoking or other chapters of the County’s Code of Ordinances.
The Chapter 18 Code Update began in the late summer of 2021 and will be completed Spring 2022. The update process is comprised of three general components:
Technical Code Review | Fall 2021. The first phase of the process focuses on analyzing the current Chapter 18 Code, in particular Article II Nuisances, to understand the current code and its standards. The project team will undertake background research on nuisance regulations in general, precedent community codes, the 2021 International Property Maintenance Code, and a technical review of the existing Chapter 18. Included in the diagnosis will be a review of the current code enforcement processes and a comparison of a complaint-driven reactive code enforcement philosophy versus a code-compliance-driven proactive code enforcement philosophy. Research on nuisance codes and weed regulations previously compiled by the Los Alamos County Community Development Advisory Board (CDAB) will be included in the diagnosis.
Public Input | November - December 2021. In coordination with CDAB and the County’s survey consultant, Polco, the project team will conduct a survey of County residents to solicit input on how best to balance the need to enforce minimum standards for property upkeep with means of notification and addressing the issues.
The project team will also interview County staff charged with enforcement and CDAB to understand the range of violations and patterns of interactions between the County and property owners. The results of the survey, interviews, and CDAB work session will shape the recommendations for revisions to Chapter 18. This report is the deliverable that resulted from the code review and public input phases. Its findings will be presented to the County Council, along with the overall strategy for revisions to Chapter 18.
Revisions to Chapter 18, Article II NUISANCE | January - March 2022. With the help of CDAB, the project team will draft revisions to Article I GENERAL and Article II NUISANCES. The first set of revisions will focus on DIVISION I, Sections 18-36, 37, and 38; Notice, Complaint and Injunctions.
The approach to revisions to Article I will focus on improving the process of notification, addressing, and resolving the nuisance issues in a manner that seeks to address the underlying issues with minimal intervention from the County and its associated police powers. The second set of revisions will focus on Article II and updating nuisance standards to align with contemporary best practice.
This report sets out the goals and actions for the code update. The technical review evaluates the strengths and limitations of the current Chapter 18 Article II Nuisances. The review is based on discussions with and feedback received from Staff, CDAB, and members of the public. Included in the review is an overview of three precedent communities, Alamogordo, New Mexico, Globe, Arizona, and Golden, Colorado as well as research from other communities committed to national best practices. The 2021 International Property Maintenance Code, produced by the International Code Council, was also included in the research of national best practices. The review evaluates the suitability of the existing Development Code by determining deficiencies and inadequate elements that may create inconsistent interpretations or confusion among the community.
The 2021 International Property Maintenance Code (IMPC) is a model code drafted by the International Code Council that establishes the minimum property maintenance requirements for existing residential and commercial buildings, including basics standards for structural conditions, lighting, ventilation, sanitation, and fire safety. The IMPC is the regulatory framework around which most community nuisance codes are established, generally most municipalities adopt the IMPC by reference. This document will serve as the primary regulatory guidance for the Chapter 16, Nuisance Code update.