In an unincorporated part of El Cajon, property owner Tommy Matthews is fighting a court order obtained by the county to access the property in order to remove weeds, trash, and other debris. On July 21, Matthews and his co-petitioner John Smith filed a petition for a permanent injunction, barring the county from gaining access to his property.
Earlier that day, Matthews had received a "24-Hour Notice of Execution of Abatement" from the county's code-compliance division.
"Access to the premises is sought for the purpose of abating and removing any and all trash, junk, waste, scrap wood, scrap metal, wood pallets, metal racking, cages, automotive parts/equipment, inoperative vehicles, trailer coaches, construction materials/equipment/vehicles/debris, broken/discarded appliances/furnishings, wirings/cables, plastic buckets/bins/containers, tarps, tubing, cardboard boxes, old machinery and parts, outside stored items and debris strewn about the property," states the notice.
Refusal, according to the letter, is considered a misdemeanor offense.
Matthews and Smith aren't having it. They argue the county's request is an example of government overreach. In the petition he wrote, Matthews also claims that code-compliance officers placed the notice out of plain sight.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
"Petitioner aver the County of San Diego Planning and Development Services access to the premises would be in violation of the petitioner's Fourth Amendment rights due to the general request of abating violations sought. These materials listed by respondents are so general they could be found on most property in the jurisdiction of San Diego County."
The petition will go before Superior Court judge Lisa Schall on October 17. The county has yet to file a response.