SAN FRANCISCO — The California First District Court of Appeal recently upheld the Del Norte County Superior Court's denial of a writ of administrative mandate for the plaintiff in a dispute over plants growing on a property.

In its March 30 decision on James Raymond Clary, as personal representative, et al, vs. City of Crescent City, the appeals court said John Diehl had eight unused lots in Crescent City while he was a Washington state resident, and that the "high-growing blackberry bushes, broom plants, other weedy vegetation, abundant trash and illegally dumped material" on his lots were not a problem. Crescent City had disagreed.

Crescent City Municipal Code has a rule against the nature of plants growing on Diehl's pieces of land and considered them problematic to the public. Crescent City issued Diehl a letter in May 2010 that said his plants violated a section of the municipal code, according to the court documents. Diehl replied in June 2010 and wanted to know how the city came to its conclusion.

Crescent City fire chief took a look at Diehl's lots in September 2010 and was going to send Diehl a notice that told him that properties presented a fire hazard. The appeals court further explained that the fire chief told Diehl from then on he would be told via citation and fines that would "start at $100 per day."

According to the appeals court, Eric Taylor, the city's code enforcement officer, had a Del Norte County environmental health scientist look at the lots. The Department of Community Development, Engineering and Environmental Health for the County of Del Norte also then sent Diehl a letter about the plants on the lot and said that he had to address the problem by Nov. 1, 2010. 

The appeals court said Diehl appealed the superior court ruling and "argued that the superior court wrongly found his due process rights in city proceedings were satisfied because he was provided notice and opportunity to be heard." Diehl also alleged that "the hearings were not fair or impartial."

The appeals court held that "Diehl has forfeited his due process argument by failing to cite or discuss any law." The appeals court also disagreed with Diehl's allegations of biased hearings.

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