Hood River County’s decision to fund a code enforcement officer is a good one for its citizens.
Any number of nuisances, violations, and threats to public safety can be found in the community. Codes are only as strong as peoples’ willingness to comply, or local government’s ability to monitor and enforce. In his article on page A5, staff writer Ben Mitchell reports that the county “has been peppered with complaints … and those complaints have been piling up faster than the county can resolve them.”
County officials made two comments worth noting, in terms of how the new emphasis on code enforcement will play out. First, the officer will focus on the backlog, rather than pursuing enforcement of new violations. Second, the officer will not go patrolling the streets for new violations.
There is sound reasoning behind both. However, once on the job the code enforcement officer should work with his associates in Planning and the Sheriff’s Office to keep on top of serious situations, be they violations that might yet not have come to the attention of the county, or ones that represent a serious threat to public safety — or are just plain egregious. The code officer’s job duties might be written to include a periodic field day to see the reported violations firsthand, and maintain familiarity with all areas of the county. The lay of the land is important with something like this, because code violations usually have real impacts on neighborhoods.