POOR CODE ENFORCEMENT IS THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE IN OUR BLIGHTED NEIGHBORHOODS.

 

The code enforcement process is complex and time consuming because the objective is compliance, not punishment.  But we need to bring sunshine, accountability, and possibly more staff to make this department more effective.  Something has GOT to change.

ISSUES:

1.  Until recently code enforcement has been reactive - only responding to complaints rather than issuing citations without a complaint.  Currently proactive code enforcement activity is not readily visible.

2.  There seems to be a disconnect between stated policies and actual practice.

3.  Fines and liens may be forgiven too easily and go uncollected for too long.

4.  Not enough information is entered into the system on the resolution of cases and is only available on a property by property basis.  This makes patterns of violations/resolutions difficult to see.

5. It appears code officers may be spending too much time citing properties for short-term rental violations rather than citing other properties for blighted conditions.

POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS:

1. Use a third party to collect unpaid fines and liens - it would be worth the cost to set serious boundaries.

2. Report all code officer activity on a daily basis and make it readily available online.

3. Communicate and educate.  Set clear guidelines, make them public, and make sure they are followed.

4. Provide grants or forgivable loans for those unable to afford the cost to cure their code violations.  

5. If passed, use the property appraiser's program to collect unpaid liens on the tax bill for city expenses to bring properties into compliance.

6. Provide a list report at the property address level to allow an overall picture of activity.

7. Provide more information in each case on what's happening and on how it was resolved.

8. BEGIN discussion on scope and enforcement of short term rentals.