Code Enforcement Updates
In 2021, Corcoran has begun its 3rd year of “proactive” code enforcement. I have been contacted numerous times by residents who:
Disagree with this practice
Disagree with the kinds of issues they have received citations for.
The code itself is not new- it has been essentially untouched since the early 2000’s, several years before new developments started. Until January of 2019, the code was enforced under a complaint based system.
In January of 2019, the Corcoran City Council began creating a program of active enforcement patrols based on limited resident feedback. It went a step further than the past complaint based system and the city actively paid for an external contractor to patrol Corcoran, looking for violations.
Proactive code enforcement has led to a growing number of resident complaints over time about citations for things that had never been raised as an issue in the past. When I joined the council in late 2020, there were already numerous resident complaints about the handling of the proactive enforcement, and this was made a priority by the new council starting in 2021. The current council considered the active approach to code enforcement at the April 8th 2021 meeting. You can find a video of that part of the meeting here:
After proactive enforcement started for the current year in April (the patrols do not happen year round), many more residents began voicing concerns to the council both publicly and privately, and this led to Mayor McKee adding code enforcement to the June 10th council meeting for discussion. You can find that discussion here:
Mayor McKee also advanced several proposals for reforms for the council to consider in the coming weeks. I think he is showing good leadership on this topic and look forward to developing fair standards.
I want to make sure that we as a city strike a good balance between fair enforcement of reasonable standards and allowing people to live freely without being under a microscope.
I have concerns about the active enforcement model. One item I would like to see us address in the future is whether all elements of the code make sense in all parts of the city. For example, many people have issues with requirements not to store Recreational Vehicles in their driveways. I think the city council needs to consider only applying that code in certain parts of the city, such as in a rural residential area. RV’s, trailers, and other vehicles do not have the same negative impact on a 10 acre lot as on a 5,000 square foot lot. If there are other similar common issues that are not significantly negative in rural areas, I think the code should be updated. We touched on this, briefly, in the April 8th meeting linked above.
This has been an ongoing issue, and resident concerns have been heard and discussed by the current city council. At the June 10th meeting, the council provided direction to city staff to pause proactive code enforcement to allow the council to revisit some of the most troublesome portions of the code such as RV storage and how to allow people who live on corner lots to have a reasonable method to store items. This pause to reflect on what the code should be ought to help us arrive at a system that allows residents to live undisturbed if they maintain a reasonable standard.
As we revisit code enforcement, we need to keep in mind that there are legitimate cases where intervention is necessary and proper. There are some properties with legitimate issues that do bother the neighbors in the area, and those neighbors are entitled to action to enforce the code. I remember campaigning door to door and talking to a resident who had a 5+ year stint with a terrible neighbor with cars and garbage everywhere and they could not get it cleaned up. At the June 24th council meeting, a resident with a neighbor with several junk vehicles and appliances spoke about the need to get the city to help resolve complaints. Many others have similar stories, so we can’t just be passive about problem cases.
Code enforcement should be fair and enforce reasonable standards. We need to make sure the code accommodates the different types of zoning in different parts of the city. We also need to give the appropriate balance to the sometimes conflicting needs of different residents. I look forward to the July 8 meeting where this will be discussed in more detail and am hopeful that the council will be able to arrive at a better balance than the one we have inherited.