TLMA > Code Enforcement > About Us
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
Why have code enforcement? Do we not have the right to do what we want on our own properties? Is this not the United States of America – the land of the free? Should not I, as a property owner, be able to rent out my garage to someone if they agree to it? Should we not be allowed to throw our trash wherever we please? So what if I have two stripped cars on my front yard; it just shows that I can afford two junk cars. So my grass is four feet high and dry; it is my grass, and I like it that way. Code enforcement is often misunderstood; it is not about denying people property rights, but protecting their property rights and ensuring standards that protect health and safety as well as neighborhood quality of life issues. Enforcing local codes is important because:• It helps maintain safe communities and contributes to community pride and enjoyment
• It helps build/maintain property values
• Enforcement can act as a force multiplier for law enforcement, Environmental Health, Fire,
Animal Control, etc.
• It serves to educate the public about ordinances and laws affecting their properties
• It helps to maintain and continue development of a jurisdiction
• It protects property owners' rights to enjoy their property without illegal infringement
from surrounding properties
Enforcement is conducted based on the violation, not the violator. The focus of enforcement is on nuisance activity or structure, without regard to the source of the complaint or the nature or character of the violator. These are seen as violations against the jurisdiction and not against neighbors or other individuals, although some complaints stem from neighbor disputes. Code enforcement provides violators a chance to comply voluntarily and is usually done with a flexible, creative, and helpful approach, especially when dealing with people who have difficulty meeting compliance due to age, infirmity, or temporary financial hardship. Seeking voluntary compliance first and foremost, enforcement efforts are directed at providing opportunities for solving problems and eliminating violations, not punishing people.
Philosophies in code enforcement can be different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and can range from strict enforcement of codes to just educational programs. Code enforcement can be found in planning departments, police departments, building departments, economic development agencies, or as an independent enforcement department. The culture of a department is often affected in many ways by which umbrella department it is under.
Code enforcement officers must be able to perform many roles including mediator, educator, facilitator, and usually as a last resource, enforcement agent. Code enforcement officers have a difficult and often thankless job. Although they always try for a win-win solution, many times violators and complainants do not see it that way; one or both feel like they are not being served. Additionally, code enforcement officers deal with many of the people law enforcement agencies deal with. They do this without backup and without many of the safety and enforcement tools that law enforcement officers have at their disposal. Someone who is conducting criminal activity is usually not concerned with the condition of their property.
Overall, code enforcement is a vital tool in establishing the identity and value of a community. Most people wish to live in a nice and safe neighborhood, and enforcement of local ordinances sets standards for a community and aids in establishing and maintaining the quality of life desired by residents.