Code enforcement is a broad term that involves the enforcement of all laws, rules, regulations, and policies established by the City. Because of this broad nature, many disciplines and departments within the City contribute to ensuring compliance.
Process & Procedures
Permitting and Licensing
Permitting and licensing is an integral part of the code enforcement process. The City has rules and regulations governing almost all subjects and activities, and it is impossible for the average person to know all of the regulations that apply in any given situation. Requiring permits or licenses for various activities allows the City to educate individuals on the applicable regulations, to proactively ensure compliance, and to prevent code violations that ultimately lead to fines, fees, and increased costs due to stopping, undoing, or redoing work.
Anyone looking to build or place a structure, start a business, or engage in an activity they think might be regulated is strongly encouraged to contact the City to see if a permit or license is required. Even if one is not required, restrictions may still apply, so it’s a good idea to run your plan or idea by city staff before starting a project or engaging in an activity to avoid major issues or complications down the road.
Inspections are often necessary if a city permit or license is required. Breaks for inspections should be built into the timeline for all projects. It may be annoying or frustrating to stop work on a project and wait for an inspection to be completed, but inspections are crucial to catching issues or violations early before they become a much bigger problem and more costly to fix.
Code violations are handled by a very specific and deliberate process that includes performing an investigation, collecting evidence, and working with the violator to resolve the issue. If a violation cannot be resolved through voluntary compliance, the City will prosecute and remediate the violation, if necessary.
The City investigates all complaints it receives. An inspector, officer, or other city employee with expertise in the subject matter will begin a preliminary investigation to determine if a violation exists. If the reported issue is not a violation, the complaint will be deemed unfounded and the case closed. If there is a violation, the City will typically provide a courtesy notice that explains the violation and provides the violator a short amount of time, between 5-14 days, to bring the violation into compliance.
Violations that are not resolved after a courtesy notice or that are unique or particularly serious are elevated to the next step in the process. The violator is served a formal written Notice of Violation and Order that includes:
- A description of the property involved, if applicable.
- The violation to be corrected.
- The tasks necessary to correct the violation.
- A specific, reasonable amount of time within which the violator must correct the violation, typically between 14-30 days depending on the nature of the case.
- The consequences and penalties for failing to correcting the violation within the time specified.
The City performs a follow up review and/or inspection shortly after the deadline specified in the Notice and Order. If the violation has been corrected, the case is closed out. If no progress has been made to correct the violation, the City proceeds to the next step in the process. If noticeable progress or a reasonable attempt has been made to correct the violation, the City may repeat Step 2 and provide the violator with additional time.
The City begins legal action to prosecute the violator and/or obtain a court order to force compliance. This step in the process can take a significant amount of time as there are usually multiple hearings spaced out over many months, and evidence and testimony must be presented to and received by the court.
The City executes the court order and completes the tasks necessary to correct the violation.