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A. Guiding Principles. The City seeks to promote good relations between Owners and Tenants, and in furtherance of such goal, provides the following guiding principles:

1. Owners and Tenants should treat each other with respect, listen to each other, and make good faith efforts to informally resolve issues. If Owners and Tenants cannot informally resolve issues, alternative dispute resolution and mediation programs should be voluntarily utilized.

2. If disputes are not able to be settled despite the use of dispute resolution or mediation programs, the primary enforcement mechanism is otherwise expected to be the Private Remedies set forth in subsection (D) of this section.

3. The City shall have the sole and unfettered discretion to determine if and when City will engage in City enforcement of this chapter. Owners and Tenants are highly encouraged to independently resolve disputes as set forth in subsections (A)(1) and (2) of this section.

B. General Provisions.

1. The enforcement mechanisms and remedies specified in this section are cumulative and in addition to any other enforcement mechanisms and remedies available under federal, State, County, and City law for violation of this chapter or Code.

2. It shall be unlawful for any Person to violate any provision or fail to comply with the requirements of this chapter. Each day that a violation continues is deemed to be a new and separate offense.

3. Any waiver of the rights under this chapter shall be void as contrary to public policy.

C. City Attorney Enforcement.

1. Alternative Remedies. The City Attorney may require Owner and Tenant to participate in education programs related to Owner-Tenant issues, mediation, or an alternative dispute resolution program.

2. Administrative Citations and Penalties. The City Attorney or an Enforcement Officer may issue administrative citations or civil penalties in accordance with Chapter 1.41 CVMC for violation of any of the provisions of this chapter. Civil penalties for violations of this chapter may be assessed at a rate not to exceed $5,000 per violation per day. When a violation occurs, it is not required that a warning or notice to cure must first be given before an administrative citation or civil penalty may be issued.

3. Civil Action. The City, or the City Attorney on behalf of the People of the State of California, may seek injunctive relief to enjoin violations of, or to compel compliance with, this chapter or seek any other relief or remedy available at law or equity, including the imposition of monetary civil penalties. Civil penalties for violations of this chapter may be assessed at a rate not to exceed $5,000 per violation per day. The City may also pursue damages as set forth in CVMC 9.65.070(C)(6).

4. Criminal Violation. An Owner who interferes or facilitates interference with a Tenant’s peaceful enjoyment, use, possession or occupancy of a Residential Rental Unit by (a) threat, fraud, intimidation, coercion, or duress, (b) maintenance or toleration of a public nuisance, (c) cutting off heat, light, water, fuel, Wi-Fi, or free communication by anyone by mail, email, telephone/cell phone, or otherwise, or (d) restricting trade (including the use of delivery services for goods or food) or tradespersons from or to any such Tenant, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for a period of not more than six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment. At the sole discretion of the City Attorney, such violation may, in the alternative, be cited and prosecuted as an infraction.

5. Subpoena Authority. The City Attorney shall have the power to issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses, to compel their attendance and testimony, to administer oaths and affirmations, to take evidence, and to issue subpoenas for the production of any papers, books, accounts, records, documents or other items that may be relevant to the City Attorney’s investigation, enforcement action, or prosecution. The City Attorney may exercise such powers prior to or following the commencement of any civil, criminal, or administrative action to the fullest extent allowed by law.

D. Private Remedies.

1. Civil Action. An aggrieved Tenant may institute a civil action for injunctive relief, direct money damages, and any other relief allowed by law, including the assessment of civil penalties in the amount of no less than $2,000 and no more than $5,000 per violation per day. If the aggrieved Tenant is Elderly or Disabled, additional civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation per day may be assessed at the discretion of the court. A Tenant may also pursue damages as set forth in CVMC 9.65.070(C)(6).

2. Affirmative Defense. A violation of this chapter may be asserted as an affirmative defense in an unlawful detainer or other civil action.

3. Attorney’s Fees. The court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to a party who prevails in any action described in subsections (D)(1) and (2) of this section. (Ord. 3527 § 2, 2022).