Friday, December 6, 2013

Problem Solving with Code Enforcement Officials

Code enforcement officials cover a lot of ground both in both small towns and large cities.  Whether it is enforcing guidelines that support health and safety rules or uphold housing standards, their primary function is to ensure compliance with local policies to ultimately protect the communities they serve.  In my world, I work closely with officials who are tasked with dealing with housing issues, more specifically, homes that are vacant or have been abandoned.  Coming from all parts of the Nation, they have various challenges when enforcing housing codes but they all share one common goal and that is to protect the interests of their community.  Because of that singular goal and dedication to their community, it is of the utmost importance that we include this group of experts in their own right, in industry conversations on how we can combat blight. 

It goes without saying that for the better part of the last decade, the crash of the housing market has made the demands of code enforcement officials unrelenting.  As vacant and abandoned properties piled up in America’s cities and towns so did the code violations.  With limited budgets and few tools to track down the party responsible for these violations, enforcement officials found themselves at a loss.  To remedy this they spoke up and made their voices heard.  They used their direct connection with these communities to solve major enforcement problems.  However I believe we still have a major challenge with our ability to effectively communicate with this segment of the industry, especially when discussing community blight. 

One of the most important things we have learned through this crisis is that when creating solutions our whole is more than the sum of our parts.  While our ability to collaborate has come a long way, it is my opinion that if we did a better job of bringing code enforcement officials into conversations with lenders, servicers, and property preservation organizations, we could more easily create effective solutions. Code enforcement officials offer an exclusive perspective on blight that we are not able to take on in an empathetic kind of way.  Their first-hand experience in communities with unique challenges and problems is vital to policy making. 

Having these individuals in the room will not only make us smarter, it will make our solutions smarter.  Let’s remember that the next time we sit down to solve problems.  Working independently maybe we can solve one or two of our problems, working together we can solve industry problems. 


1 comment:

  1. We have received some very positive feedback on the call for greater communication in, “Problem Solving with Code Enforcement Officials”.

    “Great e-mail Robert! Thank you for all you have done to make our partnerships work!”
    Frank Cassidy, CEP
    City of Cape Coral

    “Thank you so much! I love this article and hopefully it will get the attention of those who still choose to ignore us out there!!!”
    Sherri Johnston
    Environmental Code Manager
    City of Mesquite, Texas

    “Well said! Were it not for you - things would be very different!”
    Pura S. Bascos

    “Well said my friend.”
    Doug Leeper
    Code Enforcement Solutions

    “What you have said is so true. It’s better to have Code Enforcement as a friend than as an advisory. When I was running the VA Property Management Unit in Florida, I made it a point to visit our Code Enforcement Officers in the major cities like Miami, Jax, Orlando and Tampa. I knew some of the officials by their first names. When I met with them, I basically asked them what they needed from us and we negotiated on many of the requirements the cities had.. That was 10 years ago and believe it or not, I get a call every once in a while from one of them looking for help on a property issue. We have to be flexible and keep in mind that it’s their community they are trying to protect.”
    John Acosta