I am in favor of stricter building code enforcement. Especially in Indianapolis, where typically only a sample of projects are reviewed. This new department will bring stability and standardization to the review process. Hopefully any problems related to sidewalks and accessibility (which are often brought up on the Indianapolis blogosphere) will be identified early in the design process and addressed.
The department will be staffed by “building code analysts” who will thoroughly review each project. Any problems will be flagged wherein the building designers must answer the questions raised. This falls under the police powers of government and public safety should improve from the efforts.
It is important for engineers to realize that our goal is life safety, and that working with building code enforcement is a necessary step in the process. It is not criticism, it is an independent review. My neighbor in the city government says designers “have no idea how much this will change things.” I don’t know whether to be frightened or excited, but I’m leaning towards excitement.
Council Approves Office of Code Enforcement
Office of Code Enforcement
On June 29, the City-County Council approved the city’s first Department of Code Enforcement.
The current acting Office of Code Enforcement, created by Executive Order in February 2009 to streamline the city’s licensing, permitting, inspection and abatement functions, will become a permanent city department effective January 1, 2010.
“This new agency has answered the call to step up enforcement actions and tackle issues that threaten public safety and the overall health of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Greg Ballard.
“Overgrown weeds, abandoned cars, abandoned properties, unsafe buildings and other property maintenance conditions attract crime, reduce property values and make communities less desirable. Focusing new resources on these issues will better equip us to keep our city clean, safe and vibrant and will do so using a self-funding model that will not burden taxpayers.”
The Council’s approval transfers the following code enforcement functions to the new department:
- Licenses and permits
- Building, infrastructure
- and zoning inspections
- Property maintenance
- Unsafe buildings
- High weeds and grass
- Illegal dumping
- Weights & Measures
“We have worked diligently over the past few months to streamline code enforcement processes that have been unnecessarily complicated and often outdated,” said Rick Powers, Director of the Office of Code Enforcement. “By consolidating code enforcement functions into one department and providing a one-stop shop, we are more accessible and able to provide better service to the public.”
With this new charge, the Office of Code Enforcement has been overhauling city enforcement initiatives through new, refocused measures, including:
- Cracking down on unlicensed and non-compliant businesses
- Combating high weeds and grass by cutting the abatement process time in half
- Intensifying the focus on nuisance abatement and property maintenance
- Addressing habitual violators through a new case management system and a partnership with city prosecutors to expedite priority cases
- Joining the Mayors’ vacant and abandoned properties initiatives
- Preparing the launch of mobile inspector offices to increase productivity
- Utilizing Six Sigma expertise to refine and improve processes to optimize efficiency and service
All citizen reports should be directed to the Mayor’s Action Center at 327-4MAC (327-4622). To learn more about the Office of Code Enforcement, visit www.indy.gov/oce.