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Thread: How is zoning enforcement done in your community?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian lilschmidty's avatar
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    How is zoning enforcement done in your community?

    I'm interested in knowing how zoning enforcement is conducted in your community. Do you only take complaints or do you enforce on all violations as they are found?
    Also, have you seen any best practices to zoning enforcement?

    I work for a community where we only enforce when we receive a complaint. The problem with that is most complaints are due to neighbor feuds and not about the zoning violations. We enforce regardless and in many of the cases they continue to escalate into larger neighborhood wars where they continue to complain on each other.

    It's very frustrating and your ideas/suggestions are always greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yup.....

    Quote Originally posted by lilschmidty View post
    I'm interested in knowing how zoning enforcement is conducted in your community. Do you only take complaints or do you enforce on all violations as they are found?
    Also, have you seen any best practices to zoning enforcement?

    I work for a community where we only enforce when we receive a complaint. The problem with that is most complaints are due to neighbor feuds and not about the zoning violations. We enforce regardless and in many of the cases they continue to escalate into larger neighborhood wars where they continue to complain on each other.

    It's very frustrating and your ideas/suggestions are always greatly appreciated.
    You've accurately described how we conduct enforcement activities. Our motto is....if it took 20 years for the violation to build up.....we can allow them several years to clean it up.....
    Skilled Adoxographer
    I have two emotions....Silence and Rage

  3. #3
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Our fair community takes a hybrid approach. We are mostly complaint based, but we also have a part-time CE officer who is in the field for approx. 10 hours a week.

    At the beginning of the year the Planning Director will sit down with the president of the Plan Commission, the department Town Council liasion and the Town Manager to determine Code Enforcement priorities for the year. These priorities will be what the Town will actively pursue with everything else mostly on a complaint basis.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    We do active code enforcement (1 FT code officer, 1 FT Zoning Administrator plus every building inspector, public works employee, police officer and planner is supposed to report any activities we notice). We also have an inspection process for any change of use, change of owner, change of tenant where we are able to sign off on any new business for zoning and do building code and zoning inspections. We also do rental inspection and we have a new law that prevents convicted felons from renting housing in the community.

    We're probably on the strict end of the enforcement spectrum. We're a built-out community with over 60,000 people and there is a great fear among our residents that the forces of lower housing values, degredation, and urban neglect will come our way. As a recipient of a lot of Chicago's white flight over the last forty years, this sets the stage for the public being willing to accept strict enforcement.

  5. #5
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Our CE is handled in the Building Dept. and involves 3 FT enforcement and building/site inspectors. We work by complaints and general canvassing. They are mainly charged with enforcing the building and zoning codes in the field.

    It works pretty well since they don't have to worry about junk accumulation sites, because the Health Dept. enforces that.

    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    ...we have a new law that prevents convicted felons from renting housing in the community.
    ....Let us know how your US Supreme Court case goes in 2012.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    All complaints end up being refered to Building Inspection/Code Enforcement. They are in a different building on the other side of town and employ one Code Enforcement Officer. Because they are a joint agency, that one officer is responsible for everything in the city and the county.

    There were two officers, but the other guy was cut during the city's budget crisis last year.
    Back home just in time for hockey season!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm.....

    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    we have a new law that prevents convicted felons from renting housing in the community.

    As a recipient of a lot of Chicago's white flight over the last forty years, this sets the stage for the public being willing to accept strict enforcement.
    Why not strip them of their human rights while your at it...I mean their civil rights are already toast right, so I'm sure that makes it ok?? I'm not a fan of felons, but if I have to live with them in my neighborhood, SO DO YOU!
    Skilled Adoxographer
    I have two emotions....Silence and Rage

  8. #8
    Cyburbian lilschmidty's avatar
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    The community I work for (Pop. 112,000) has a Code Enforcement Division with 13 inspectors. Our Planning Department has a Zoning Enforcement Officer and two Planners that assist him.

    Personally, I think that all enforcement should be under one department.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Why not strip them of their human rights while your at it...I mean their civil rights are already toast right, so I'm sure that makes it ok?? I'm not a fan of felons, but if I have to live with them in my neighborhood, SO DO YOU!
    I'm not saying that I agree with the ordinance or that I even condone it. I personally find it repulsive. All the surrounding suburbs have enacted a similar policy so our community felt that it "had to do it". I had nothing to do with the ordinance, writing it, or even dealing with in committee. It made me sick to my stomach.

    I thought when I was moving here from suburban Detroit that there would a more cosmopolitan thought about race and community. I actually think it's worse in suburban Chicago than it ever was in Detroit and suburbs.

    I'm trying to be honest about why our community is so nuts about code enforcement.
    Last edited by mendelman; 03 Sep 2009 at 12:09 PM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Cool.....

    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    [OT] I'm not saying that I agree with the ordinance or that I even condone it. I personally find it repulsive. All the surrounding suburbs have enacted a similar policy so our community felt that it "had to do it". I had nothing to do with the ordinance, writing it, or even dealing with in committee. It made me sick to my stomach.

    I thought when I was moving here from suburban Detroit that there would a more cosmopolitan thought about race and community. I actually think it's worse in suburban Chicago than it ever was in Detroit and suburbs.

    I'm trying to be honest about why our community is so nuts about code enforcement.
    I should have made my post more clearly directed at everyone....not you....
    Skilled Adoxographer
    I have two emotions....Silence and Rage

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    I should have made my post more clearly directed at everyone....not you....
    No offense taken! Although, my thick, leathery planner skin should have been reflected in my response -- of course, you weren't talking about me!

    Back to the topic at hand.....have we answered your questions, lils?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian lilschmidty's avatar
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    Yes, you have all been a great help. Hopefully I can take some of your ideas and implement them in my community.

    Thank you

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by southsideamy View post
    We do active code enforcement (1 FT code officer, 1 FT Zoning Administrator plus every building inspector, public works employee, police officer and planner is supposed to report any activities we notice). We also have an inspection process for any change of use, change of owner, change of tenant where we are able to sign off on any new business for zoning and do building code and zoning inspections. We also do rental inspection and we have a new law that prevents convicted felons from renting housing in the community.
    This.

    Although we do not have the law preventing felon's from renting. In fact, quite the opposite, we have an ordinance that prevents landlords from knowingly discriminating based on criminal history (keep in mind this is a very liberal college town). We just instituted rental registration within the past 2 years, as well.

    In general most enforcement is on a complaint basis but we do have a nuisance enforcement person as part of PW who goes around and cites people for gross violations. Building inspectors will also report deficiencies they see while out on inspections and they have a pretty good working knowledge of the zoning regs.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  14. #14
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    This.

    Although we do not have the law preventing felon's from renting. In fact, quite the opposite, we have an ordinance that prevents landlords from knowingly discriminating based on criminal history (keep in mind this is a very liberal college town). We just instituted rental registration within the past 2 years, as well.

    In general most enforcement is on a complaint basis but we do have a nuisance enforcement person as part of PW who goes around and cites people for gross violations. Building inspectors will also report deficiencies they see while out on inspections and they have a pretty good working knowledge of the zoning regs.
    First of all, Rollins = HAWT!!!!

    I'm interested in your rental enforcement. We are toying with the idea of permitting rental facilities and performing inspections to make sure they are up to code and safe from the aspect of health and structural safety. Do you do something like this, and what are your thoughts?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian estromberg's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Our CE is handled in the Building Dept. and involves 3 FT enforcement and building/site inspectors. We work by complaints and general canvassing. They are mainly charged with enforcing the building and zoning codes in the field.

    It works pretty well since they don't have to worry about junk accumulation sites, because the Health Dept. enforces that.

    Off-topic:

    ....Let us know how your US Supreme Court case goes in 2012.
    Beat me to it. This utterly indefensible.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Planners often don't have the skills to be effective enforcers (which I very well know). Building inspectors often cannot explain the "why" questions, and often cannot explain alternative solutions such as variances. I favor an umbrella organization or at least very open communication among departments.

    Hint: While investigating a complaint, check for similar cases along the way and especially in the immediate neighborhood. We have cited the complaining party.

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