Mayor Buckhorn Announces 85% Compliance Rate through Civil Citation Process for Code Violators
Today, Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that the civil citation process for code violators is forcing more violators to clean up their properties.
"I want to send a clear message to those who are causing blight in a neighborhood that the City is not going to tolerate it, which is why I directed our inspectors to use the civil citation process more. With the ultimate goal in mind of rectifying the violations, it allows us to move quickly and helps us to force the issue with flagrant violators by sending them to court," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "It’s not a cure for every type of violation, but particularly for violations like overgrowth, accumulations, or minor structural violations, this is the best tool in our arsenal."
Since the process began in December 2008, the City has issued 21,445 civil warnings, resulting in only 3,212 citations. This means that 85% of the violations were corrected prior to the citation being issued.
Mayor Buckhorn directed the City's Neighborhood Empowerment Department to take a more aggressive approach, particularly with flagrant code violators, specifically asking inspectors to issue more civil citations. The civil citation process first gives the violator an opportunity to correct the issue through a warning. If the violator fails to correct the issue, they are then issued a citation. Once the citation is issued, the violator must either pay the citation or request a court hearing. The violator will also be issued another citation if the violation is not been corrected. If the situation warrants, the violator may be issued a Notice to Appear for criminal court instead of another citation.
The civil citation process also expedites compliance. As our data indicates, in 85% of the cases, compliance is achieved within 21 days using the citation process. In comparison, the Code Enforcement Board takes up to 6 months, and sometimes more, for compliance.
In addition to saving time, it also saves the City money. On average, inspectors only inspect a property over two visits compared to over four or five visits for Code Enforcement Board cases.
In summer 2013, Mayor Buckhorn directed code inspectors to go block by block through three neighborhoods in central and north Tampa, all of which were known to have blight issues.
In the last year, five Solid Waste employees have been trained to issue citations; the Neighborhood Enhancement team has acquired an additional front end loader to pick up and remove heavy debris; and the City of Tampa has worked with 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Hillsborough County to create a special court docket for municipal ordinance cases. The City of Tampa will continue to refine the code enforcement process.