Atlanta puts building code enforcement under police department
Atlanta is toughening its building codes enforcement – with the emphasis on enforcement. In February, the city put the civilian codes enforcement department under police direction, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The city is trying to crack down on thousands of abandoned or dilapidated properties, a longstanding problem made worse by the foreclosure crisis. Police say the eyesores feed crime, so that appropriately puts it in their court.
“Once you have police showing up to say ‘fix that or go to jail,’ you’re going to get things done,” Councilman Kwanza Hall told the newspaper. Some of the worst properties are in Hall’s district, including one seedy apartment building where police made 1,572 calls over four years. The apartments are now slated to be demolished and replaced with recreation and intramural fields for nearby Georgia State University.
The city is moving aggressively to tear down properties that have significant code violations or incessant crime. Officials have increased efforts to track down owners of problem properties and take them to court.
In 2010, 22 structures were torn down on court orders, according to the newspaper. Last year 46 structures were demolished. At the beginning of this year, there were 119 demolition orders approved with another 140 cases pending.
The city asked neighborhood leaders to identify the five worst properties in their areas. Then inspectors and police followed up.
That get-tough approach applies not only to violators, but also to the inspectors themselves, according to the police commander who now heads the enforcement unit. The unit will operate like cops, said Lt. C.J. Davis.
“It’s not going to be ‘We’ll get to it when we get to it,’” Davis told the newspaper. “There’s roll call. There’s expectations. There will be a service and response to the community. You will answer that call.”