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12 23Wed09242014

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Back Local News Bill 57 seeks to raise encroachment fines

Bill 57 seeks to raise encroachment fines

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THE committee on public safety and infrastructure yesterday held a public hearing on a bill seeking to change an outdated fine for unlawful encroachment, which was signed into law way back in 1969.

Speaker Judith T. Won Pat, who authored Bill 57, said the measure seeks to help DPW recover the true cost of maintaining safe and unobstructed roadways to ultimately deter future encroachment violations.

Encroachment, as defined by the measure, means “any refuse, trash, vehicles, tower pole, poleline, pipe, pipeline, fence, billboard, stand or building or any structure or utility infrastructure which is placed in, under, or over any portion of the highway.”

Violators are currently assessed $10 each day if there is a violation. But this fine, at times, may be insufficient to cover the real cost of removing unauthorized items such as abandoned vehicles and shipping containers.

The legislation proposes to increase the encroachment fine to $100 per day for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Bill 57, the Speaker said, seeks to adjust daily fines for unlawful encroachment on Guam’s roadways.

Although the fines collected from encroachment violations will be deposited into the Territorial Highway Fund, Won Pat said there was a request from former DPW Director Joanne Brown to consider creating another fund for this purpose.

Under the bill, the DPW director is authorized to use revenues collected to purchase equipment and supplies, and to procure the services of licensed surveyors, required to effectively enforce Guam’s highway care and maintenance laws.

If passed into law, the bill would ensure that the island’s roadways would remain safe for motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Carl Dominguez, Department of Public Works director, said his agency agrees with the bill’s position that the $10 per day daily fine may have been a deterrent to unlawful encroachment 43 years ago when it was first imposed by law.

“But it is currently so low as to be seen as an acceptable cost to some violators who do not intend to comply with the law. The new higher fines will certainly act as a deterrent to future violations,” Dominguez said.

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