City of Fresno officials are promising today they still plan to hold the owner of the Summerset Village apartments accountable for hundreds of code violations. The statement from City Manager Bruce Rudd comes just hours after the Fresno Bee reported that the city's code enforcement department has suspended $290,000 in fines against property owner Chris Henry.
Code enforcement division manager Del Estabrooke told the Bee the fines that were due January 6th have been suspended for now, because Henry is making progress in renovating the facility and correcting the code violations.
“As long as he (Henry) is making a good-faith effort, we’re good,” Estabrooke said. “If he stops progressing, we have those fines we could always pursue.”
The prospect of Henry avoiding fines after hundreds of residents were without heat and hot water for weeks at the complex, resulted in a flurry of social media outrage early Thursday.
Within hours Rudd issued a statement saying that the city won't finalize the amount that Henry will owe for the code violations until work at the complex is complete. He added that in addition to the fees for code violations, the city also needs to be reimbursed by Henry for costs related to the city's actions.
Rudd says that further changes are needed to the code enforcement system when it comes to fines.
Rudd: "I have committed to the Mayor to implementing comprehensive changes to the manner in which we approach code enforcement. As such, we can no longer afford to allow negligent property owners to simply write a check, say they’re sorry, and then go back to business as usual. As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Henry and the other property owners who choose to compromise the safety of our residents, are/will find themselves on probation and will stay there until they can demonstrate a sustained commitment to providing safe and clean living conditions for all our residents."