Methods of Enforcement
Code Enforcement's goal is to get voluntary compliance from property owners and tenants when they are violating Municipal Codes. Many times, a "verbal warning" can bring immediate compliance with a code violation. However, when immediate corrective measures are not an option, the Inspectors have a variety of methods available to them to elicit compliance:
- Warning Notice
- Administrative Fine
- Notice to Appear
- Notice of Parking Violation
- Notice of Violation
- Administrative Nuisance Hearing
- Notice & Order
- Criminal Complaint
Administrative Fine - If compliance is not achieved through a Warning Notice, an Administrative Citation/Fine is issued. The fine amount is set by State law. Currently, fines progress in the amounts of $100, $200 and $500 for violation of the same offense within one year from the date of the first occurrence.
Notice to Appear - Also commonly referred to as a misdemeanor citation or "NTA", it is issued directly to a violator who must sign as a "promise to appear" in court. A recipient of this type of criminal citation must appear in court before a judge on the date noted on the "NTA". Failure to appear could result in a bench warrant being issued for the recipient's arrest.
Notice of Parking Violation - A "Parking Cite" is issued to a vehicle in violation of municipal code sections. The cite requires the payment of a fine, the amount of which is set by the Miscellaneous Fee Schedule adopted each year by the City. Failure to pay the cite may impact a vehicle owner's ability to re-register the vehicle annually.
Notice of Violation - A document used to notify a property owner(s) of violations observed on their property. It serves as a demand to correct a violation and can ultimately end up in the City Attorney’s office for criminal prosecution.
If compliance is achieved within the specified time frame, there is no penalty assessment associated with a Notice of Violation. There may be permit fees if permits are required for unpermitted work or substandard conditions. Permits for work already started or completed will include a penalty assessment.
Notice & Order - Similar to a Notice of Violation, it serves as a notice to classify and abate violations involving a dangerous building. A Notice & Order is recorded with the County and will "cloud the title" of a property. It is useful in hindering the sale of a dangerous property to potential buyers who may be unaware of the violations and the actions by the City.
Administrative Nuisance Hearing - A hearing conducted when a property owner fails to bring their property into compliance when required by the City. The property owner is notified when and where the hearing will take place, as this is the opportunity to bring evidence and explain to a hearing officer why compliance has been delayed.
The hearing officer bases his or her decision on evidence submitted by both City staff and the property owners. Should the hearing office rule on behalf of the City, the property owner is advised of the requirements and time frame in which to bring the property into compliance. A penalty is assessed due to the delay in compliance. Should the hearing officer rule on behalf of the owner; the City closes the case.
Hearings are also held at the request of a person who wishes to dispute an Administrative Fine or a Vehicle Abatement. The hearing, as established by state law, allows a violator to discuss whether the violation existed or whether the violator was the person responsible for maintaining the violation.
Non-compliance after a hearing may result in the case being forwarded to the City Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution.
Criminal Complaint - Sometimes, after having been through the City’s hearing process, property owners still fail to bring their properties into compliance. When this occurs, Code Enforcement staff prepares all necessary documents and refers the case file to the City Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution. Once this happens, all contact between the City and the property owner is conducted through the City Attorney’s office.
- Removing signs posted illegally in the public right-of-way
- Removing inoperative vehicles from private property
- Removing stagnant water from private pools and ponds
- Repairing plumbing problems resulting in raw sewage
- Correcting dangerous building conditions that are an immediate threat to life safety.
Some abatements may involve inspection warrants and orders from the court to correct ("abate") a violation.