The Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Corner: Safe Streets Now — A Program to Restore Your Neighborhood
We all deserve to live in peaceful neighborhoods — but what about those neighbors who disrupt the quality of life in your neighborhood? Have you ever wished there was a program that allowed good neighbors to regain control of the neighborhood?
Well, there is. It’s called Safe Streets Now. The program is a resource that was developed to give the citizens of San Diego County a safe, fast, effective and economical direct-action tool to rid their neighborhoods of nuisance problems.
Safe Streets Now empowers individuals and neighborhood groups to use a civil court process to make their neighborhoods peaceful and secure. This program was developed to teach you how to abate illegal drug and gang activity in your neighborhood, or how to resolve nuisance problems such as noisy neighbors, party houses or barking dogs.
The process for ridding a neighborhood of nuisance problems is based in California state law, which requires that property owners use, or ensure the use of, their property in ways “conducive to the peace and harmony of the neighborhood” and do not interfere “with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.”
Given these conditions, a drug house or other nuisance problem becomes a property management problem in violation of state property laws. Once property owners are properly notified of a nuisance problem they are obligated by law to take corrective action. If they do not, you and your neighbors can file a civil action against them in Small Claims Court alleging that they are negligent.
Safe Streets Now employs a four-step process referred to as the “abatement process.” It involves four components: (1) Documentation (2) Notification (3) Negotiation and (4) Litigation. This process requires time and effort on your part, but when used correctly it has proven highly successful. Here is a summary of the four steps.
Step One —
It is important to establish a written record of the disruptive activities. You should keep a detailed written record of the disruptive activity by recording information such as who is going to the property, what is going on at the property or surrounding area, when is this activity happening and where is all this activity occurring.
When appropriate, you should call the police to report the activity and ask for an incident number for your records. When done properly, this written record will indicate the chronic nature of the problem. This documentation provides the essential foundation you should have before you move to the next step.
Step Two — Notification
The law requires proper notification of the owners of the property on which the disruptive activity is occurring.
Step Three — Negotiation
Negotiations have been able to successfully resolve more than 95 percent of the cases through candid, good faith negotiation efforts with both parties. The fourth step, litigation, is a last resort that is undertaken if negotiations fail.
Step Four — Litigation
If litigation becomes necessary, the Safe Streets Now process involves filing cases in Small Claims Court. To gain maximum leverage, neighbors file consolidated cases where groups of complainants have been awarded tens of thousands of dollars by the courts. The threat of such large judgments provides your group with increased bargaining power with the property owners during the negotiation process.
This innovative, systematic step-by-step approach to neighborhood problem solving has proven to be very successful. Over the past years, countless San Diego County residents have used this process to resolve hundreds of nuisance problems. If you and your neighbors are experiencing a nuisance problem in your community, this program offers you a resource that you can utilize to create a secure, clean and healthy environment for individuals and families.
For more information and to receive the complete Safe Streets Now Packet please call Crime Prevention Specialist Barbara Wallace at the Ramona Sheriff’s Substation at 760-738-2425.
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