Friday, September 20, 2019

Code Compliance vs. Code Enforcement

 

 

What is Code Compliance?

Code Compliance is the effort of trained City employees to enforce the City Codes and keep the quality of life for all.

What is the goal of Code Compliance?

The goal of Code Compliance is to ensure compliance with the City Codes through education, not generate revenue or punish code violators.  Generating some revenue comes through punishing violators that fail to comply when asked. Code Compliance rather than Code Enforcement means, gaining compliance first, and then using enforcement measures when needed to gain compliance with the code.

What happens when a violation occurs?

Generally speaking when a code violation is observed the Code Compliance official will issue a notice of violation and allow a reasonable amount of time to correct the violation. If the violation is corrected by the deadline, that’s it, case closed, no fine, no penalty. If additional time is needed, call and ask, extensions can be granted if there is an effort to comply.  If there is a failure to meet the deadline, or the violator simply ignores the violation the Code Compliance official may; 1) issue a citation (a fine) or 2) schedule a hearing before the Code Enforcement Board.

What does the Code Enforcement Board do?

The Code Enforcement Board has the authority to set a new compliance date and impose daily fines for failure to comply. It is a group of seven individuals that hear both sides of the case and determine an outcome. They are appointed by the seated City Council and serve two year terms.

What is the violation is threatening health/safety?

The exception to the above process is for health/safety violations, violations which are irreparable or irreversible in nature or nuisances which may be abated by the City. These types of violations may result in swifter and more direct action.

What are the common complaints that are investigated?

Code Compliance receives numerous complaints weekly for a variety of issues such as; high weeds, sidewalk obstructions, trash cans left out, boats and trailers, noise and many more. Many of these calls are anonymous and often state with the sentence “I don’t want to cause any problems, but…” or “I don’t like to complain, but…” Code will investigate every complaint. Sometimes the complaint is about something which is not a violation, and as a result we do not take any action (for the anonymous caller this does not mean we are ignoring it.)

Summary from the Chief Compliance Official.

For every person who believes there should be more code regulation, there is another person who says there should be less and Code Compliance is criticized for doing both.   When interacting with Code Compliance please keep in mind a few things:

  1. We cannot change the code, only City Council can. If you think a particular code is stupid, you may be right, we may even agree with you, however, it is still the code and it is our job to enforce it. Yelling at the code officer, calling them names and insulting their mother will not change this.
  2. If it is not a code violation, we cannot enforce it. We cannot make someone  turn down the stereo if it doesn’t violate the noise ordinance.  Not everything which bothers people is a code violation.
  3. We do not settle neighbor disputes, although we regularly end up in the middle of them. If there is a legitimate code violation we will enforce it but if you are mad at your neighbor please don’t use us to harass them.
  4. We generally cannot make things happen overnight. We are required to give the violator notice and a reasonable amount of time to correct a violation.
  5. If the Code Enforcement Board has issued an order, we cannot change it, only the code board can do that. We can grant extensions on cases before they are heard by the Code Board, but not after the order has been issued.

We are not Mayberry, but we are still a relatively small city. Unfortunately, Barney Fife retired and was replaced with a computer.  However; we are successful in obtaining compliance in over 90% of our cases. That truly is our goal. If you have questions about the code you can call us at 389-5060 or you can access the City Code of Ordinances on our website at  www.cityofmarcoisland.com.

Eric L Wardle is Chief of Code Compliance for the City of Marco Island. He may be reached at 239-389-5060.

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