The City of Saint Paul is seeking community input before introducing a Saint Paul Charter amendment to allow the city to use administrative citations as a tool for enforcement of city ordinances.
What is an administrative citation?
An administrative citation is a civil fine that is issued in response to a violation of local ordinance.
Why is the city proposing this change?
The goal in implementing administrative citations is to develop a fair and effective tool to obtain compliance with city ordinances. Currently, many ordinances can only be enforced by criminal citation. The use of criminal citations can result in unintended consequences, such as the creation of a criminal record, for business owners and residents who are cited. Also, an administrative enforcement system will establish a city managed process that will improve timelines for resolving violations and ensure that penalties are proportional to the situations where enforcement takes place.
Where is the City proposing to use administrative citations?
The City of Saint Paul is proposing to begin implementing administrative citations in connection with the following ordinances and city codes across several city departments:
Department of Safety and Inspections
- Enforcement of construction permit violations, such as performing work without a permit or failing to close an open permit
- Enforcement of animal control laws
- Enforcement of zoning requirements
- Enforcement of liquor, tobacco, or automotive related business licenses
Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity
- Enforcement of Earned Sick and Safe Time
- Enforcement of Minimum Wage
- Enforcement on Prohibition of Conversion Therapy
Saint Paul Regional Water Service
- Enforcement for unauthorized use of fire hydrants
- Enforcement of plumbing permit requirements
- Enforcement for unauthorized water shutoffs or activations
What is the process for implementing administrative citations?
Implementation of administrative citations involves the following steps:
AMEND THE CITY CHARTER:
- City Council asks Charter Commission to recommend changes
- Charter Commission holds public hearing;
- Charter Commission recommends the change; and
- City Council approves ordinance change by 7-0 vote; OR
- If Charter Commission does not recommend a change, the City Council can submit the amendment to the voters
CREATE PROCEDURES CHAPTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE CODE:
- City Council proposes an administrative ordinance outlining Hearing Procedures
- City Council holds a public hearing
- Ordinance is adopted by at least a 4-3 vote
AMEND LEGISLATIVE CODE TO ADDRESS ADMINISTRATIVE FINES:
City Council amends EACH ordinance to be enforced using administrative citations outlining:
Specific hearing requirements
Penalties for specific violations
City Council holds public hearing
Ordinance is adopted by at least a 4-3 vote
What is the proposed charter amendment language?
Section 6.03.1 of the Saint Paul City Charter is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 6.03.1 - Legislative ordinances
Subdivision 1. Every act of the council which defines, licenses, regulates, suppresses, prevents or prohibits any act, business or person, grants or modifies or modifies any franchise, imposes a civil penalty or is in any way an exercise of legislative powers, shall be done by legislative ordinance. Except as otherwise provided in this Charter, such ordinances shall require an affirmative vote of at least four (4) members of the council.
Subdivision 2. With the exception of the failure to pay fines or fees, the council may establish, alter, amend or repeal an ordinance to impose a civil penalty for each violation of a city ordinance. For each ordinance the City would like to enforce using a civil penalty, the Council must adopt or amend an ordinance (a) outlining the amount of fine and other penalties that can be imposed for a first or subsequent violation of that ordinance; and (b) describing the procedure to impose civil penalties. The procedure to impose civil penalties must include notice of an ordinance violation and an opportunity to be heard, prior to imposition of a civil penalty. Any civil monetary penalty amount must be imposed equitably and must not exceed twice the maximum fine amount authorized for misdemeanor offenses for violation of the City Code. The district court has jurisdiction to enforce any order to pay a civil monetary penalty imposed under this section.
What are the proposed enforcement procedures?
The current proposed procedures to enforce administrative citations include the following steps:
WARNING LETTER: If there is evidence that an ordinance has been violated, City Staff, working with the City Attorney’s Office, will issue a warning to a “Respondent”
CITATION: If the Respondent does not comply, City Staff will issue a citation outlining:
The facts that make up the ordinance violation
The proposed fine and other penalties
Notice of administrative options
RESPONDENT’S ADMINISTRATIVE OPTIONS:
Pay the fine and accept any other penalties
Admit that the violation occurred but ask for a different penalty
Have a hearing before a neutral decision-maker and make the City prove its case
What would be the size of the fine for an administrative citation?
The exact amount of the fines for administrative citations will be set as part of the legislative code ordinance amendment process. Ordinance amendments include multiple readings before the city council including an oral staff report to the council explaining the change and a public hearing before council before the final vote adopting the ordinance change.
To view a presentation and community discussion on YouTube about administrative citations, follow this link
When would administrative citations take effect?
The implementation process is currently moving along the following timeline:
- Ongoing feedback from community stakeholders
- Presentation to the City Council -– April 21
- Charter Commission public hearing and vote – April/May
- Additional city council process to amend city ordinances – May through September
- Development of city processes and staff training – September - December
- Tentative Implementation – January 2022