Do City Codes Still Apply After a Disaster?
Rowlett, TX Residents are getting notices to clean up their yards during recovery.
This is a good piece by WFAA in Dallas, Texas. The City of Rowlett Northeast of Dallas was hit by a tornado just after Christmas this past year and an interesting move by the City. In summary, the City began putting out notices of violations for yards being neglected per City Ordinances (i.e. grass too tall). The interesting part about this is, the city isn’t trying to crack down on anything. They’re just trying to find out who’s not working on recovering from the devastation so they can provide attention as necessary.
Personally from my experience with warning notices and such, I would have recommended that the city use different styled and colored notices of violation. One that is more tailored to the situation. When I was an Military Policemen we handed out what we called “Got-ya” tickets to let people know that they had let their personal property unattended and susceptible to theft (one of our largest problems on the installation). The ticket was designed in a way that it would alert people that they did something and we were trying to help; without shocking them that they were in trouble and become defensive. I liken the “got-ya” tickets to this situation since the city is really trying to identify problem properties; more than crack down on people.
Though the standard code compliance warning does the job of shocking the owner into either calling the city or cleaning up their yard; it also might do some damage for community relations between the constituency and the municipality. I would be interested to see if there is any political/bureaucratic fallout from this well intentioned move.
See the WFAA Report Here
City of Rowlett Press Release on Abandoned or Destroyed Structures Here
City of Rowlett “Code Compliance and the Remediation and Demolition of Substandard and Dangerous Structures” available Here
Visit the City of Rowlett’s Code Enforcement Department Web page Here