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Junkyard brings jail time

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Some might call it trash, some treasure: piles of tires, rusting house trailers, broken-down singlewides, corroded car bodies sitting in the shade of oaks and pines. The results of clean-up orders for two rural North County properties are equally contrasting.
 
After neighbors reported suspected meth labs set up in the rundown trailers, San Luis Obispo County enforcement officers asked both property owners in the hills east of Santa Margarita to clear “improper excessive outdoor, vehicle, and recreational vehicle storage.�
 
One property owner contacted county officials to work out a timeline for the massive clean-up, and 1 1/2 years later, the land is again a scenic vista of rolling oak woodlands. The other property owner reportedly disregarded the repeated notices of clean-up orders, and now he’s spending the summer in the county jail.
 
“There’s reasonable cause for saving stuff for when you might need it, but you have to know the limitations, and also that it can snowball,� said Harley Voss, supervising investigator for county code enforcement.
 
“We turn into kind of a care counselor to help people work through this. But if there’s no sign of willingness to voluntarily work on it, we submit it to the court and it’s out of our hands,� Voss added.
 
Communication, he said, is key: “Talk to us, explain your story, justify it, so we can meet your needs, your neighbors’ needs and the county’s needs at the same time.� ∆

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