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The legality of a City citing State and Federal properties

James Farrow

Registered User
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
13
Location
GA
Two hypotheticals:

A Post Office (Federal) has grass too high and the Supervisor tells the Code Officer to cite them.

A State owned library (State property) had a leaking pipe under a sink in the public bathroom and the supervisor wants them to be cited.

Basically, my hyptothical, can a City government issue citations and summons to State property and Federal property in city limits? I have always been told that cities are not supposed to inspect or impose violations against higher government entities. The hypotheical state is GA.

Does anyone have experience with being in a situation where you (working at a city level) are asked to cite state or federal property? I have always been under the impression that it is frowned upon for a level of goverment to cite a higher level of government, but I am having issues finding an actual law to reference on this.

-I posted in this section because it is a general Code Enforcment questions, I hope this was an appropriate location-
 

Ty J.

Sawhorse
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Aug 2, 2017
Messages
1,432
Location
Washington State
Locally (WA), the State and Fed buildings don't even pull building permits, so I am sure that they would scoff at the idea of a code enforcement citation.
 

cda

Sawhorse
Joined
Oct 19, 2009
Messages
18,672
Location
Basement
Good luck

Best thing is ask nicely

For post office, most local post masters are friendly, just give them time. I see someone mowing the PO lawn all the time, for the PO across the street from my office. Looks like a PO employee

For the state, find out the top maintenance supervisor and talk to them nicely

Just give them extra time.
 

Min&Max

Silver Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
Messages
293
Location
Nebraska
Note,,,
If they are just leasing space, then they are fair game,, cite them
Just the property owner not the feds or state. The feds and state will basically just tell you to go pound sand which is ok by me. Just one more thing off my plate.
 

mtlogcabin

Sawhorse
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
7,744
Location
Big Sky Country
We can get permits for all state owned and funded building projects and they can claim "agency exemption" for zoning uses but not for overgrown grass or weeds because that is a fire hazard under our ordinances.

Federally owned property is of limits.
 

James Farrow

Registered User
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
13
Location
GA
Land and buildings are owned and occupied by the respective governments in both cases.
(Hypothetical Example 1 Owner: "State of Georgia").
(Hypotheical Example 2 Owner: "United States of America").
 

James Farrow

Registered User
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
13
Location
GA
Land and buildings are owned and occupied by the respective governments in both cases.
(Hypothetical Example 1 Owner: "State of Georgia").
(Hypotheical Example 2 Owner: "United States of America").
I reversed this, should behypothetical 1 is U.S. and 2 is GA. Sorry, I can't seem to be able to edit posts on this forum.
 

Mark K

Platinum Member
Joined
May 12, 2010
Messages
1,664
The delicate question is how do you tell the supervisor he doesn't know what he is asking you what to do.

Have the supervisor talk to the city attorney.
 

tmurray

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Jun 10, 2011
Messages
1,878
Location
NB, Canada
Interesting. Here in Canada, the only things exempt from local permitting and laws would be our military bases, which are not technically part of the local community, but are their own entity onto themselves.

My first question is what do you want to do? Do you want to make sure what you are doing is correct legally, or do you want to just get it done to satisfy your boss?

I have performed enforcement actions on provincial and federal buildings in our community, but as CDA noted, a lot of the time, you can get a lot further by just talking to them. Best way is to frame it as them doing you, a fellow civil servant, a favour. "My boss is asking me to make you guys mow the lawn. I know I can't make you mow the lawn, but you guys would be doing a huge favour to me if you could get it mowed to get my boss off my back." Everyone has had an "unreasonable" boss, so referencing this puts them in a place where they can empathize with your situation and try to help you out. After all, when they had an unreasonable boss, they sure wish that someone had helped them out with it.

If you want to guide your boss to the technically correct action, you might want to phrase it like a question. "The Post Office. Isn't that technically federal property? I thought we couldn't apply local ordinances to federal or state property." The big issue with most bosses is maintaining their ego. To do this, they have to act in a way that they are still in charge. The question indicates that you are not sure (even though you may be), so it enables them to question if they know the correct answer without looking weak. It also maintains them as the decision maker since it is still framed as you seeking their guidance. You can also offer to go talk to the property managers to see if they will voluntarily get in line to help your boss save face as well.
 

James Farrow

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Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
13
Location
GA
Say that the city attorney idea was hypothetically shot down because supervisor knows they will not like the answer and just wants to make the complainant happy as quickly as possible (library member who is upset about the sink being out of order, and I guess whoever is concerned about the grass being over 10" at the post office).

Granted I have no done in depth research yet, but I can't find any statute or law that says state or federal property cannot receive citations or fines (but it was one of those things I just always took for granted that working for cities you just don't mess with state, country, or federal property). So regardless of if one should or not, is there some kind of federal law protecting the federal government from fines for property violations (I say federal because I don't expect anyone else here is from GA to know state specific statutes).

The closest thing I can find is for parking tickets, and that may not be a perfect comparison as it involves vehicles instead of land.
And, from my research, Federal and State (and county) vehicles can receive parking tickets from city/local governments for parking violations, and the driver of the vehicle is responsible to pay (however if they do not, there cannot really be much done, as you cannot really start civil action to collect parking debts from the federal government). I know I have one anecdote from this city. While working for this city, I twice had to give parking tickets to a county vehicle at a residence for being parked in the driveway incorrectly (it was a take home vehicle), and for driveway parking complaints, we don't do a traditional code enforcement citation, we just write a parking ticket from the standard city parking ticket book and move on. Anyway this county vehicle received two parking citations (that I know of) for improper driveway parking (not being fully on the established driveway surface), and the driver never paid, and the revenue collector said there is not much that can be done for county or state vehicles as they cannot be added to the boot list and they cannot start a civil case against the county or state for parking debts, so even though the driver is supposed to pay by (in this case county) policy, if they don't there is really no recourse to collect. I mention this because I assume it would be a similar case for state property? They can probably just ignore fines and I doubt a judge would issue an order to appear against the State for Federal government?
 

James Farrow

Registered User
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
Messages
13
Location
GA
Interesting. Here in Canada, the only things exempt from local permitting and laws would be our military bases, which are not technically part of the local community, but are their own entity onto themselves.

My first question is what do you want to do? Do you want to make sure what you are doing is correct legally, or do you want to just get it done to satisfy your boss?

I have performed enforcement actions on provincial and federal buildings in our community, but as CDA noted, a lot of the time, you can get a lot further by just talking to them. Best way is to frame it as them doing you, a fellow civil servant, a favour. "My boss is asking me to make you guys mow the lawn. I know I can't make you mow the lawn, but you guys would be doing a huge favour to me if you could get it mowed to get my boss off my back." Everyone has had an "unreasonable" boss, so referencing this puts them in a place where they can empathize with your situation and try to help you out. After all, when they had an unreasonable boss, they sure wish that someone had helped them out with it.

If you want to guide your boss to the technically correct action, you might want to phrase it like a question. "The Post Office. Isn't that technically federal property? I thought we couldn't apply local ordinances to federal or state property." The big issue with most bosses is maintaining their ego. To do this, they have to act in a way that they are still in charge. The question indicates that you are not sure (even though you may be), so it enables them to question if they know the correct answer without looking weak. It also maintains them as the decision maker since it is still framed as you seeking their guidance. You can also offer to go talk to the property managers to see if they will voluntarily get in line to help your boss save face as well.
Oh no, to answer your question I want to make sure it is legal. And, it is mostly out of personal curiosity, I don’t care about satisfying my boss if they are wrong. I just want to know if anyone working at a local level has had a similar experience or knows the actual legality of citing a higher government entity (which I am still struggling to find any concrete information on).

I agree that 95% of the time talking to the the maintenence supervisor at the local office solves the problem, but sometimes for who knows what reason there are some Federal or State owned buildings or lands where they just won't fix whatever the issue is, or they just won't cut the grass. State owned colleges are really good in my expierence, if you talk to the maintenence department directly, they will usually get right with you and be down to earth. Post offices and libraries can be a little different (like others have said a lot can depend on the local management or local postmaster). But, I am just curious if after continous complaints and no change if anyone at a local level has cited or ordered to court a higher government entity or if doing such is actually legal if pressured to do so.
 

ADAguy

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Sep 11, 2013
Messages
5,005
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California
Just the property owner not the feds or state. The feds and state will basically just tell you to go pound sand which is ok by me. Just one more thing off my plate.
Consider informing local congressman of representative that they are failing to maintain a public resource or inform your local news folks.
 

cda

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Oct 19, 2009
Messages
18,672
Location
Basement
Consider informing local congressman of representative that they are failing to maintain a public resource or inform your local news folks.

NO NO NO,

Than they will pass a bill, that will cost 100 times as much to cut the grass!!!!!!!!!!!!


And the brother in law will some how get the job
 
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