Friday, August 22, 2008

Enhancing Code Violation Enforcement

The fourth leg of the City Council’s six-legged stool on single family zoning issues is enhancing enforcement of code violations, AKA the upgrading of the Litter Control Officer position. (You can read about the first three by clicking here, here and here) This leg was designed well ahead of the thought that it might one day become one of six attached to a broad stool but, no matter, it has taken time to develop. Terry Bornemann asked for a pilot program to enforce the single family zoning code on the 8th of October 2007.

In February 2008, he and the other council members received a Goldilocks version of this from staff who presented it as three choices regarding hiring another code enforcement officer (too expensive), adding duties to the current Code Enforcement Officer position (too burdensome), adding duties to the existing Litter Officer position (just right?). As the newly appointed Chief of Police, Todd Ramsay was charged with putting this all together since the Litter Control Officer (who was then paid totally by Public Works) was already under the operational control of the police department.

Given the bureaucratic rope pushing that he encountered, it was not until July that the City Council was able to approve the newly engineered position. Change comes slowly in these here parts, pardner. So almost a year later, we are at a point of beginning to investigate “violations of city code related to concerns such as litter, noise, parking, and habitation.” (quote is from Agenda Bill 018039 – click here to read the bill) Now the newly coined position of Neighborhood Compliance Officer is ready to hit the road “to conduct interviews and provide education about the codes to neighborhood residents with the goal being nuisance abatement, rather than punishment.” (also from Agenda Bill 018039) We seem to be in a perpetual state of education here. At some point, the education has to be tested, a type of WASL for landlords and tenants. As a homeowner, who prided himself on engaging with and educating the residents of illegal rooming houses on his street for years, said to me, “I am tired of training these puppies.”

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