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Thread: How do you handle code enforcement?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    How do you handle code enforcement?

    Do you (or your code enforcement people) make systematic observations of your city (in between responding to code violation complaint, of course) to assure uniform compliance?

    Is there a heirarcy or priority of items that should be looked for?

    Do you look for one item at a time? (or one category of related items?)

    Do you have the time and personnel to do this?

    How do you assure a uniform and universal survey is made?

    How do you keep track of the fact that some "violations" may have actually been granted by Variance?

    Is it possible to have a systematic and uniform survey of violations?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    Code Enforcement is almost impossible unless the threat to force everyone into court that ignores you is real. Most people know that:

    1) you will only follow-up more than twice on the worst offenders;
    2) no one politically connected will ever be prosecuted; and
    3) your city attorney will never prosecute unless the evidence is so obvious it's laughable.

    That being said, almost everyone will clean up their act if the threat of having to defend themselves in court at a cost of $20,000 for an attorney IS real.

  3. #3
    Member
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    How To Handle Code Enforcement

    On some of the bigger Building Code Violations people are quick to react when the fire department or building department gets involved and declares the building an Unsafe Structure. An Unsafe Structure notice can quickly shut down the business or residence and quickly accrues fines.

    Orlando

    Moderator note:
    (Dan) Link deleted. We hope you didn't join Cyburbia just to promote your Web site.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Do you (or your code enforcement people) make systematic observations of your city (in between responding to code violation complaint, of course) to assure uniform compliance? I just started a pro-active program here in my City. Between our complaints, and available staff, it is very difficult.

    Is there a heirarcy or priority of items that should be looked for? I would say there is not a hierarchy in terms of the things that we send violation notices for. However, when we are working with property owners, we try and have them take care of the worst things first, like unsafe structures, trash and weeds.

    Do you look for one item at a time? (or one category of related items?) For our proactive enforcement, we have a checklist of items that we target. Homeowners are provided a self-test in our quarterly newsletter.

    Do you have the time and personnel to do this? I have 2 full time code enforcement staff. In reality, I could probably use at least one more part time person.

    How do you assure a uniform and universal survey is made? I guess you just have to trust your staff.

    How do you keep track of the fact that some "violations" may have actually been granted by Variance? Unless the property owner brings it up, it may slip throug the cracks if it was older than 10 years or so.

    Is it possible to have a systematic and uniform survey of violations?
    Of course, but you need the resources.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Do you (or your code enforcement people) make systematic observations of your city (in between responding to code violation complaint, of course) to assure uniform compliance?
    We are completely complaint driven since we no longer have a "dedicated" code enforcement officer. If our building inspectors or fire captain see something while out in the field that is pretty agregious or illegal construction, they will issue a stop work.

    Is there a heirarcy or priority of items that should be looked for?
    Again, it is compliant driven, however some code enforcement is given priority depending on the health, safety and welfare of the situation i.e. a failed sepetic system will move to the top of the list versus an un-permitted tool shed.

    Do you look for one item at a time? (or one category of related items?)
    Complaint driven, so we investigate the complaint.

    Do you have the time and personnel to do this?
    Our building inspectors (2) and a fire captain. And no, we don't have the time.

    How do you assure a uniform and universal survey is made?
    We don't

    How do you keep track of the fact that some "violations" may have actually been granted by Variance?
    We keep track of all our violations through a tracking system. Hence why we investigate prior to going out and looking at the inspection and review records prior to issuing a letter or stop work informing of a violation.

    Is it possible to have a systematic and uniform survey of violations?
    Yes.. our system tracks enforcement, follow ups, dates, and remedies.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    Do you (or your code enforcement people) make systematic observations of your city (in between responding to code violation complaint, of course) to assure uniform compliance?

    Our ceo and building inspector do try to get around to most of the city in between appointments, but there is really no reason for them to spend a lot of time visiting parts of the city where violations are seldom seen. I would compare it to speed limit enforcement. The police put speed traps where people are likely to speed - it would simply be a waste of time (and taxpayer money) to put a speed trap on a road where no one speeds.

    Is there a heirarcy or priority of items that should be looked for?

    Obviously issues that pose a risk to public safety are the most important, but if an enforcement person is out and about, they can't ONLY look for one thing - that would require ignoring other violations. They can't really control what they see, after all.

    Do you look for one item at a time? (or one category of related items?)

    See previous comment - can't look for one and ignore others - I would not be happy with my ceo if he came back in the afternoon and said he only looked for overgrown grass because that is what he was looking for that day, and so he ignored the new store that apparently opened without a planning board approval, and the construction going on without a permit.

    Do you have the time and personnel to do this?

    There is never enough time and never sufficient personnel to do anything! That being said, we make do. We have a ceo and a building inspector. They do all kinds of inspections, certificates of occupancy, building permits, and code enforcement.

    How do you assure a uniform and universal survey is made?

    We don't, and I don't really see a reason for a universal survey. In general, we assume/hope that people will tend to obey the rules - it seems the only reason you would need to assure a "uniform and universal survey" would be if there are rampent code violations throughout the city/town/etc. Our officers spend the most time in areas where there are more violations.

    How do you keep track of the fact that some "violations" may have actually been granted by Variance?

    Code enforcement cannot be done in a bubble. The enforcement personnel must be made aware of variances when they are granted. But if our guys are out and are unsure if what they are seeing in a violation, they simply call the office and ask someone to look it up. All records of permits, approvals, variances, are kept in property files - which we are currently converting to an electronic database. In any case, we do not write tickets on the spot so there is plenty of time to check into the situation before enforcement begins.

    Is it possible to have a systematic and uniform survey of violations?
    Perhaps I am not clear on what you mean by a survey of violations, but if you mean travelling the entire municipality on a regular basis and looking for all violations, I really don't think it is necessary nor is it a good use of our staff time. It makes more sense to focus where the problems are.

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