Enforcing City Ordinances
The City of Atoka’s Neighborhood Services Office uses code enforcement to seek correction of public nuisances as defined by and State Statutes (11 O.S. 22-111, 112, 112-A). A public nuisance is generally defined as a condition that affects the community’s health, safety, and welfare.
How it is Enforced
In Atoka, code enforcement has civil and criminal tools available to seek correction of public nuisances. Through the codes and statutes cited above, the city can enter onto private property to abate public nuisances. Neighborhood Services can also issue criminal citations through municipal court. Currently the city uses both a citizen complaint process and observations by Neighborhood Services personnel in the field to initiate code enforcement cases. In most cases, public nuisance issues are resolved by the property owner after door hanger or letter notification.
Common Public Nuisances
Common public nuisances include tall grass or weeds, trash and debris accumulations, inoperable vehicles, and unsecured or dilapidated buildings.
· Tall grass or weeds - They are the most common public nuisance. Tall grass and weeds are generally defined as uncared-for vegetation that exceeds six inches in height, gives off unpleasant odors, creates a traffic hazard, or is otherwise hazardous to the public. Owners of the property will be notified and have five days to abate the nuisance before the city takes further action.
· Trash and debris accumulations - This includes any unhealthful items such as garbage, uncared-for items, tree limbs and branches, furniture and appliances, etc. Owners of the property will be notified and have ten days to abate the nuisance before the city takes further action
· Unsecured, deteriorated or dilapidated buildings - Vacant buildings can represent attractive dangers to neighborhoods. All ground-level entries to vacant buildings must be secured. Buildings that are in a significant state of disrepair or that represent collapse hazards can be demolished by the city. The owners of the building will be notified 15 days before a public hearing is held and may present their plan to rehabilitate or remove the building at the hearing.
· Inoperable vehicles - The City of Atoka has that make it unlawful to keep an inoperable vehicle upon private or public property. Generally, officers look for vehicles that have significant components missing or expired license plates. If a vehicle remains inoperable for more than 72 hours, it may be subject to towing and impoundment. The owner or occupant of the land the vehicle is on will be notified and has ten days to remove the vehicle.