The "Lessons from Elsewhere" section of our blog tends to tell stories about how cities in other places do things right. We can learn from their experiences. We can also learn from places where things go wrong. This post is one of the latter.
As our regular readers surely must know, we have on occasion (type the words "code enforcement" in our search box for examples) mentioned some shortcomings of our municipal government "service" provider, Sacramento County. Such mentions have largely focused on land use, a municipal activity that runs in a spectrum from creation of a General Plan to plan implementation pursuant to the plan, including enforcement of stipulations and ordinances - stipulations such as conditions placed on project approval and ordinances such as local building codes. Regulations, codes and standards are local laws citizens are supposed to abide by. But laws are only as good as their enforcement. If the rules say you can't do something (e.g. build in the setback area, exceed the speed limit, bring a loaded weapon into a school) yet local law enforcement looks the other way, problems ensue. Our county's Code Enforcement program exemplifies spotty enforcement. Some people are forced to obey the rules while others are not. We're working on another post about that for later on..
But isn't that just the county? Don't cities have functional code enforcement? Well, that depends. Some cities do have functional code enforcement programs - programs that work because they respond to complaints and make serious efforts to work with offending properties to actually solve problems. Rancho Cordova's Code Enforcement Chief famously told the Arden Arcade Cityhood group in 2009 that her then-fledgling city had turned around the abandoned car problem there almost overnight by removing junk cars that the county had let fester for years. Still, to twist the words of Glenda The Good Witch of Oz (who told Dorothy, "Not all witches are bad"), "Not all cities are good."
Consider the ponderous beast of a city to our West, the one just itching to take us over. According to the residents of the Capitol Towers apartments in glorious Downtown Sacramento, their city's code enforcement is, to understate it, not doing its job. Don't take our word for it, though. Instead, check out today's report on CBS13: elevators out of order, no running water, leaky roofs, bad plumbing, Oh My! But, hey, $50/month off your rent for putting up with it and you get to use the porta potties too. Such a deal!