A Yuba County Code Enforcement inspection Friday morning of an illegal marijuana grow site in Linda may seem rather routine … and that’s the problem: This search was just one of dozens over the last few weeks.
The county is ramping up efforts to curb illegal cultivation.
The latest inspection revealed close to 500 marijuana plants, a loaded gun and multiple electrical hazards scattered throughout the property.[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section” curated_ids=””]Members of code enforcement and the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office served an inspection warrant at the property in the 6000 block of Brophy Road, Linda, around 9 a.m. Recent flyovers of the area led law enforcement to discover the large marijuana grow, which had plants both indoors and outdoors.
After rounding up the three individuals living at the property, officials found 490 marijuana plants, a loaded shotgun, body armor, processed marijuana, a sophisticated network of surveillance equipment, indoor grow equipment and unapproved chemicals.
The three men, who told law enforcement they were tenants but were not immediately identified, weren’t arrested and the pot plants were left alone. However, they were served orders to eradicate the plants themselves by a certain day and given a hearing date with the county Board of Supervisors to appeal the public nuisance violation and to determine the next course of action.
Code Enforcement Manager Jeremy Strang said Friday’s find was fairly similar to the other grow sites that have been located in the last few weeks. Since mid-August, code enforcement has conducted compliance checks at 34 locations throughout the county, where roughly 6,193 plants have been found and ordered to be removed.
“They all have similarities but are different in one way or another,” Strang said. “We’ve hit this property in the past and found a commercial operation. The property was sold after that, but the infrastructure remained, so it looks like they were utilizing that.”
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Code enforcement ensures compliance with the county’s ordinance through investigations; the first step in their process. When there is enough information to seek and acquire an inspection warrant, the department goes to the property, inspects the grow and counts the plants. If the tenant or property owner is found to be in violation of the ordinance, they are ordered to eradicate the plants and are given an appeal hearing. Following the hearing, code enforcement returns to validate the eradication of the plants. If the cannabis has not been removed at that time, the officers dispose of the plants.
“That’s the work that goes into just one case. So, if we are doing 15 cases a week, you can image the amount of manpower it requires to get the job done,” Strang said. His department has current staffing of four officers.
The county’s ordinance allows for a $100-per-day-per-plant fine if property owners do not follow orders and eradicate the plants, but fees are ultimately determined by the board, Strang said.
“In some of these instances we might just see tenants violating the ordinance, but it’s up to the property owner to make sure that violations don’t occur, and if they do occur, to take every remedy possible to remove them,” Strang said. “So, it ultimately falls on the owner to prevent a nuisance from occurring on their property.”
Russ Brown, Yuba County public information officer, said the fees and costs imposed on the growers and property owners cover code enforcement operational costs.
In addition to the Brophy Road search, code enforcement officers conducted a second search later in the day, bringing the week’s total to 16 compliance checks. Those property owners have been ordered to attend the next board meeting on Sept. 26 for an appeal hearing.