“Call us before you get upset with your neighbor.” There are myriad of code ordinances that are meant to keep your average city reasonably manicured, and Code Compliance Supervisor Liz Carr would really rather help you navigate them than hand out a fine.
Liz is excited to have her (new) old job back. When the code department was folded into the police force, Liz was a code enforcement officer. Her husband, now-retired police chief Thom Carr, would have been her boss, so Liz took on managing the city’s end of the foreclosure crisis in the community development department instead.
Liz now heads the code department with two officers, Tony Sans and Patrick Hayman, working under her. The police department is code’s logical home, she explains, because the police also work to resolve code issues. “The police have been more than willing to check on issues when we aren’t working, at night, for example.” There’s also the safety factor: “I personally don’t go to empty properties by myself.”
Wrangling with those crumbling homes in foreclosure limbo continues to be an important part of Liz’s work. “We’ve babysat some properties for over three years. It takes up to 800 days for banks to take over; it’s not a fast process.” In the meantime, Liz tries to bring banks and former owners to the table to keep homes from becoming an eyesore, and negotiate fine mitigation and timelines for properties that can’t come online to the sewer connections.
“Our end goal is for the property to be in good shape and the people to be ok.” In July 2010, Liz had a caseload of 400 homes. A year later, she’s down to 270. “Even one is too many but we’re lucky it’s not as bad as other places.”
Conflict resolution has long been part of Liz’s skill set. In her former career in Indiana, Liz unraveled unresolved executive complaints and high-level disputes at telecom company Ameritech. She’s been with the city 12 years and requested to work as code officer specifically so that she could use her skill set.
“It gives me a good feeling, that we’ve been able to explain what we do, and bring resolution and understanding to an issue.”