Code Enforcement: Laser Focused To Make Hallandale Beach A Cleaner Place
By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper
December 8, 2022
Over the past months, our City has been laser focused on Code Enforcement. There are many residents that understand we all have a shared responsibility in helping to maintain our properties and following the City and State Laws. Regrettably there are many that do not. We want to work to make our City a cleaner place and start with property maintenance.
There are basic rules that are simply common sense. Grass cutting, junk storage and trash removal are the easiest to understand. Building maintenance can be a bit different, painting, damaged roofs and broken windows still all fall under code. If properties are extensively deteriorated, they can fall under unsafe structures.
We have changed our past practice of always giving courteous notices for all violations. We have heard from so many residents that they are fed up with neglected properties. Good Code Enforcement does not only help to clean up the City, but it preserves property values and improves quality of life. We also do not look at the process as a way to penalize owners but to acquire compliance.
We know some residents are not sure about the rules so we will still issue courtesy notices that allow residents time to respond but we have moved to a more aggressive enforcement model. Rather than posting a property and then waiting weeks for a cleanup or action to address the deficiency we are issuing civil citations. The main focus has been on illegal dumping. We have added two officers that work directly with our sanitation division.
In a recent report, Code Compliance Official Mitch Posner shared the impacts of our new efforts. In the year to date for November 2021 we had 1926 complaints compared to this year 1731. The telling number is we had 752 civil citations issued this year compared to 299 last year. There were 565 resulting in cases compared to 227. We still did have 254 courtesy notices issued. There was also an increase in lot maintenance cases and an increase in anonymous complaints. While there are less violations overall there is a more streamlined effective system.
A Civil Citation is a ticket. Just like a moving violation, you can have your day in court to argue your position. Or you can fix the issue and pay the fine. In Code Enforcement we have a special magistrate that hears cases in the City. While the City pays for the magistrate, he/she is an independent judge that will rule on the case. I have heard complaints that this process seems one sided, but it actually is not. The facts are presented by Staff and then individuals have their right to argue their case. The judge rules on the facts. It is hard to argue a citation where there are pictures and proof of violations.
A ruling does not mean properties are then going to automatically get fixed. Private property rights and the code system itself often do not allow us to actually do the work. Often the violations will sit and languish. The code violations will continue to accumulate as a monetary Lien. We can cut grass and pick up trash on vacant lots since it is permitted now. Our cost for the services actually gets put on the property tax bill.
Illegal Dumping has always been an issue. There are no silver bullets. There needs to be vigilance on the side of the city and residents alike. If you own a property and someone dumps trash on it is your responsibility sadly to clean it up. It will result in a civil citation and then you need to hire someone to come pick it up. The fines can run from $100 to $500 Dollars.
Our City will pick up the trash but that also can be very costly depending on the volume of trash. If the trash is on the property line both will get cited. If we pick it up it gets billed to the owner.
Last year Vice Mayor Taub and I worked directly with Staff on Illegal Dumping. The result was a taskforce with our Code Division Police Department and Sanitation. While we realize we can never fully end this issue we created some key focuses. Police have begun placing video cameras and patrols in hotspots. They have been working with property owners directly to see what measures they can put in place to better secure their properties.
We established an award program for residents that report illegal dumping which results in prosecution. Residents can take pictures, video and call and report dumping to our Police Department. They can also report dumping on our HBApp.
We all need to do our part. Residents need to put out bulk trash the day before pickup only. If it is out early, you will be cited. When it is put out early it becomes not only unsightly but attracts more Illegal Dumping. Store the items in your home or on the side of your home out of sight.
The other main issue with code is work without a permit. It is always better to be safe than get cited for not having one. Not only will you be fined, permit fees will be doubled. The rule of thumb is If you are doing construction, you will need a permit.
As always, I am available for your questions, concerns, and ideas to help make our city a better place. Please feel free to reach out at my office: (954) 457-1318. On my Cell/Text at: (954) 632-5700. Or email at: email@example.com