Under existing law, any premises, plants, conveyances, or things that are infected or infested with a pest are a public nuisance and may be abated pursuant to a specified procedure. Existing law makes it unlawful for any person to maintain that public nuisance. Under existing law, each county agricultural commissioner, acting under the supervision of the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, is an enforcing officer of all laws and regulations that relate to the prevention of the introduction into, or the spread within, the state of pests. For purposes of these provisions, existing law defines "pest" to mean specified things that are, or are liable to be, dangerous or detrimental to the agricultural industry of the state.
Existing law authorizes the secretary or a county agricultural commissioner, in lieu of specified civil actions, and except as specified, to levy a civil penalty against a person violating specified provisions relating to plant quarantine and pest control, not to exceed $2,500 for each violation.
This bill would authorize a county agricultural commissioner, in lieu of those civil and administrative actions, to levy a civil penalty against a person who maintains a public nuisance that is in violation of the above-described provision and that meets other specified criteria. The bill would require the civil penalty to be levied in accordance with specified procedures, including a requirement that the person charged with the violation receive notice of the nature of the violation and be given an opportunity to be heard. If the person takes a good faith action to rectify the violation within 15 days of receiving notice, the bill would provide that the person is not liable for that civil penalty. The bill would require that civil penalty to be in an amount of up to $500 for each acre of property found to be in violation and would authorize that amount to be increased to up to $1,000 per acre if the person does not take a good faith action to rectify the public nuisance within 30 days of issuance of the original civil penalty. The bill would authorize the person to appeal the levy of a civil penalty to the secretary within 10 days of the date of receiving notification of the penalty, as specified. The bill would repeal these provisions on January 1, 2035.