Friday, June 23, 2017
[Shasta County] Grand jury: Redding must rethink code enforcement
The city of Redding must rethink its code enforcement efforts because much of the cleanup and nuisance abatement impacts public safety, the Shasta County grand jury said in a report issued Tuesday.
Bottom line, the grand jury recommends code enforcement employees work under the Redding Police Department.
In the 10-page report, the grand jury gave the city deadlines to shape up its code enforcement efforts.
For example, by Sept. 30, the city should start analyzing code enforcement’s responsibilities to determine whether the division should be consolidated under a single department, preferably police. The analysis should be completed by Dec. 31.
Currently, the code enforcement division falls under the development services department, which also oversees planning and building.
As it is now, “city of Redding code enforcement funds, supervision, staff, and responsibilities are spread among three departments, resulting in a lack of comprehensive planning, supervision, evaluation, communication, and follow-up,” the jury wrote in its findings.
Further, the City Council has re-upped short-term funding for enhanced code enforcement despite evidence to show the efforts are successful, the grand jury said.
The grand jury references a June 7, 2016, city report that declared enhanced code enforcement efforts a “tremendous success” but the only evidence of this was provided in the amount of trash that’s been collected from cleanups of unlawful camps and illegal dumps.
Trash the city collected from unlawful camps surpassed 115 tons in 2016, an increase of 240 percent since 2010.
“The amount of trash collected each year continues to increase and, as illegal camps have been abated in some areas, new camps pop up in other areas, including areas where camps have been previously abated,” the jury said in its report.
Grand jury members interviewed City Council members, city administrators, the development services department and police.
The report notes that code enforcement is critical to public safety. What’s more, the jury wrote, nuisance and neglected buildings influence the safety and economic health of the community, affecting business development, property values and tourism.
On Wednesday, Mayor Brent Weaver and City Manager Barry Tippin were at a special meeting to approve the city’s spending plans for the next two years and they had not had a chance to read the grand jury report. Both did not want to respond to the report until they read it.
At Wednesday’s budget session, Development Services Director Larry Vaupel told the council that code enforcement’s focus will be public safety, and his department will address other issues as time allows. Vaupel also asked for one more code enforcement officer.
The city currently employs two full-time code enforcement officers who tackle about 700 cases a year, the jury report noted.
Among the other grand jury recommendations is by Sept. 30 the City Council direct code enforcement and the Police Department to jointly develop a formal way to prioritize workloads, including case files, unlawful camps and problem motels.
The grand jury found that not prioritizing workloads can mean abatement cases that are left open and don’t get resolved in a timely manner.
June 21, 2017
Redding Record Searchlight
By David Benda