I personally think that one of the hardest jobs in the City belongs to our Code Compliance Officer. This is the guy that gets called out to knock on a neighbor’s door to find a way to inspire them to cut their lawn, or remove the couch from their porch, or pick up the trash that is spilled across their property because it is in violation of the City’s Code.
The Code Compliance Officer would probably rate right up there with the Tax Collector for residents’ least favorite function performed by their government. Yet, the truth is, both are more important than we give them credit for.
Police, Fire and even Public Service tend to only intrude in our lives when we need them and call for their help — so we all tend to accept their encroachment but the Code Officer doesn’t have such luck.
He does get called out, but rarely is it a public safety emergency, usually it’s a nuissance problem — and often it’s after neighbors just couldn’t take it any more so the situation is packed full of frustrations and stress — and the Code Officer walks right into the middle of it all.
The fact is the Code Compliance Officer knew what he was getting into when he took the job, so he’s not asking for any sympathy — but I watch the dynamics and admire the skill it takes to defuse the stress and motivate folks to do something that they clearly don’t want to do.
The good news is that many problems can be resolved amicably. A good Code Compliance Officer understands that life throws curve balls at people and sometimes they fall behind in keeping up — so our Officer works hard to keep an open mind and he gives people a chance to remedy the problem on terms that will work for them. If a more persistent push is needed he has a host of court related actions he can take, but we really try to avoid that, and only look to the court for help with the most chronic offenders.
I actually didn’t mean to write an Ode to the Compliance Officer but once I got started I couldn’t help myself. What I intended to do in this post was to share the 2010 Code Compliance Report that tracks the trends and offers statistics on the status of Code Compliance in Kent last year.