Times Too Tough to Enforce Mono Building Code?

Members of the June Lake community turned out in droves to hear a discussion before the Board of Supervisors regarding building code violations at the June Lake General Store.

The owner of the store was cited for conducting work without a permit after owner Eric Drell made structural improvements to a 3-story enclosed stairway on the back of his building.

Once the County Building Department was alerted to the violation by contractors working nearby, they became legally obligated to enforce the code, according to County Counsel Allen Berrey, and have been trying to work out a solution ever since.

Drell was first asked to vacate the apartment served by the stairwell, which he did, putting his tenants out of a place to live. The county then offered Drell a few choices: to create another entrance into the apartment from the General Store and tear down the stairwell, or to rebuild the stairwell to code. Either way, the derelict stairwell would not be allowed to stay in its current condition, tenants or no.

Drell is incensed that he now faces an estimated $100,000 infrastructure project

when he believes the stairwell is perfectly safe, and current economic realities in June hardly justify such an investment. Considering the expense, Drell has said he will shut down the store.

The threat of losing their only general store has turned the community against the County’s building department, and many of them were present to express their need for the store’s services, and their failure to understand why the county insisted on enforcing such measures during these tough economic times.

County staff explained to the crowd that the building codes are state mandates, and they are obliged to enforce them.

While Drell and his tenant are comfortable with the safety of the stairwell, the State of California is not. County staff explained that the County must have equitable enforcement of building codes, otherwise it will not be long before the line seeking exemptions begins to form.

Supervisors offered potential solutions to the problem such as low interest small business loans, but would not relent on the building code requirements. A meeting was arranged to help mediate the disagreement between Drell and the County, but for now the June Lake General Store hangs in the balance.

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