Enforcement deadline looms for some truckers in Littlerock, CA

| 7/7/2009

Tom Fidger said he’s facing an impossible Catch-22 situation.

The OOIDA member from Littlerock, CA, has received his final code enforcement letter and has until Thursday, July 9, to comply or pay a hefty fine and risk further action from the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning. To avoid the fine, he must move his rig to an area the county deems a “compatible land use.”

While LA County zoning code doesn’t specifically say Fidger can’t have a commercial vehicle parked on his property, it also doesn’t say he can either. Instead, it’s up to code enforcement officials to “interpret” which home-based businesses are allowed or not allowed to park on their own property.

However, Fidger said either decision will financially devastate him at this point. A lengthy battle with code enforcement will prove to be costly, but so is risking that his truck and equipment may be vandalized or stolen if he parks it elsewhere. That is a  real fear for Fidger since this happened to him when he tried to park elsewhere in Littlerock in the past.

“I used to park my truck in a gated lot, and thieves just jumped over the fence and took what they wanted off my truck and trailer,” Fidger told Land Line. “My insurance threatened to cancel me if I submitted any more claims if I continued parking there. So I brought my truck back to my property and now I have code enforcement after me. I can’t win.”

OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz, a former trucker who hauled produce for more than 29 years before joining the Association full-time in 2006, said he’s very familiar with the dilemma Fidger is facing.

Rajkovacz’ trailer was tagged in 1997 while parked on a surface street on Avenue U in Littlerock.

“I was parked under a street light, and my equipment was attacked,” he told Land Line.

LA County’s John Calas, who is the deputy director of the Land Use Regulation Division, told Land Line that he will check into possible locations where truckers can potentially store their trucks in Littlerock. However, even that gets complicated.

“We have to have somebody run a report for the community and find the number of parcels that may permit the storage of trucks, subject to standards of development,” Calas said. “You just can’t put a truck on a vacant property. There are standards of development when you have storage.”

In December, Rajkovacz attended a meeting of the Antelope Valley Truckers’ Organization, or AVTO, which includes some OOIDA members and other concerned residents who are working to develop a revised Community Development Standard that would allow them to continue parking their trucks on their property.

If truckers like Fidger are forced to move their trucks elsewhere, Rajkovacz said they will have a hard time complying with code enforcement.

“There are no industrial areas in Littlerock. It’s a rural area,” he said.

Fidger, who sits on the Littlerock Town Council and serves as the council’s liaison for code enforcement to LA County, said it’s ironic that he’s the one in the hot seat with code enforcement because the whole reason he decided to run was to help revise the community’s CSD for truck parking.

“I am a tax-paying citizen who has lived here peacefully in the high desert for more than 20 years,” Fidger said. “I pay my taxes; I filed my tax return ahead of the deadline and was given an IOU. It seems the state and LA County only want to take, take, take, but don’t want to give anything in return.”

Rajkovacz said the county seems to be using selective enforcement when deciding which businesses are in compliance and which ones are not.

“The code is silent on the issue so how can truckers be cited for something that isn’t in the code?” he said. “It seems these truckers have been targeted because they are just that – truckers. The county should view them as citizens who should be extended the same rights and privileges that are supposed to be accorded to all citizens.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer