Keeping to the codes: City Code Enforcement officers report on spring break

Savannah Chastain
The cars parked at this house on Tarpon Street Friday morning is a prime example of one of the issues code enforcement officers have been looking for while patrolling in Crystal Beach — cars parked across sidewalks.

The Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office is well known for their law enforcement role in the community; however their lesser known counterparts, city of Destin Code Enforcement Officers, are often overlooked.

“Code enforcement officers are full-time city employees who patrol the city in regular vehicles,” said Public Information Manager Doug Rainer. The officers are identified by the city of Destin seal on their polo shirt or jacket, and can give notices and citations to enforce health, safety, zoning, and sanitation codes within the city. 

During the peak tourist seasons of spring break and summer, officers increase their patrols, and mainly cite parking violations and noise complaints.

 “Because of the amount of traffic we have here we just beefed up our code enforcement around town,” Rainer said of this year’s patrol.

“Everything that they did, they normally do, just redirected their efforts to the more crowded areas,” he added.

Code Enforcement Manager, David Bazylak explained the spring break push as he told The Log, “Basically what we do during spring break is increase patrols to include weekend patrols. During the off season we don’t usually patrol on weekends.”

Bazylak shared that the most concentrated effort in Destin is the Crystal Beach area, as it is a popular spring break destination.

“A lot of what we see is parking issues particularly in the Crystal Beach area because of minimal parking in the beach areas,” Bazylak said. “The biggest issue is blocking sidewalks and driveways.”

Destin city parking tickets are usually $35, but can reach $250 if the violator is obstructing a handicap spot. However, Bazylak explained that education is the main focus of the Code Enforcement patrol, and that ample warnings are given to visitors before tickets are written.

“A lot of what we have to do is educate the new people coming in,” Bazylak said. “We like to give a notice first before a citation.”

Noise complaints are another common issue during spring break season, and in this area, code enforcement officers operate a bit differently from the sheriff’s office.

“The sheriff’s department, when enforcing noise complaints, does not have a noise meter,” said Bazylak. “We can use a noise meter to go out and measure and ensure that they are within compliance levels.”

Noise levels are measured in decibels and vary by day of the week, and between certain hours of the day ranging between 55 and 70 decibels.

“We work hand in hand with the sheriff’s office,” Bazylak said. “There are some things in our code they can’t do, and there are some laws that we can’t enforce.”

Compared to last year, the 2014 spring break season seems to be a tamer, more visitor-cooperative year for code enforcement officers.

“We haven’t gotten as many complaints this year. We worked hard with the rental units to educate renters of parking codes in the city,” Bazylak said.

The extra push for code education does seem to be paying off though.

“Overall, this was a much better year for the city than last year as far as code enforcement,” Rainer said.