What Goes into Resolving a Code Enforcement Case

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News Date: 
January 10, 2018
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Why does it take so long to resolve Code Cases?

Our primary goal in Code Enforcement is the safety of our community and we are committed to working with properties towards safety through compliance. While we generally begin our enforcement processes within two days of receiving initial reports, it may take days, months, or potentially years for a property to be brought into compliance. While this may be frustrating, we understand your concerns and work diligently to ensure that our staff facilitates the process towards compliance. The two main reasons it can take so long to resolve code violations are: a) due process, and b) non-compliant residents.

Every resident is afforded due process which means proper notification, reasonable time to correct violations, and the ability to dispute citations. These mechanisms ensure that every residents’ constitutional right of protection against unreasonable search and seizures are upheld. After an initial inspection where violations are identified, a Notice of Violation is issued to a property with a timeframe from correcting the violations. While we have a process in place, we will also work with property owners (within reason) if more time is needed, for example, to tow a junk vehicle, secure storage for an RV, or draft plans for a permit. If, however, our Notice of Violation is ignored, we will begin our citation process citing $100 for the first citation, up to $500 for the second citation, and up to $1000 for the third and subsequent citations. This process can take a variable amount of time depending on the violation, progress being made, and the response, or lack thereof, by residents.

Even when residents are non-compliant and/or non-responsive, they are still afforded due process and proper notification. If the notices and citations do not work, we move to compliance orders, administrative hearings, and possibly daily fines. If this process does not work, if we are never granted access to inspect, or if the severity of the violation presents a serious health or safety hazard and imminent danger to the community, Code Enforcement will leverage other tools in the interest of bringing properties into compliance. This can include Inspection Warrants which requires reasonable suspicion; Abatement where the City will remove the violation and bill the Property Owner for the costs; and/or petitioning the court to appoint a Receiver where a Receiver takes control of the property, remedies the violation, and potentially sells the property to cover the costs of the remediation; or potentially criminal prosecution. Any of these actions can take months or even years to achieve.

So if you ever get frustrated that it is taking so long for a junk vehicle to be removed, a property to be cleaned up, or an unpermited structure to be demolished, remember that it is a complex process that requires proper notification and reasonable time to correct violations. Our goal in Code Enforcement is to achieve safety through compliance while upholding every property owner’s right to due process. We hear your concerns and we will continue our education and outreach efforts to help mitigate the occurrence of violations and we will continue to work our cases as efficiently as possible for quicker compliance.