Proposed building changes 'gives due process up front'

Staff Reporter
The Destin Log

Changes may be on the way when it comes to how the city handles unsafe building abatement code regulations.

"We're bringing unsafe building abatement under code enforcement," Land Use Attorney Scott Shirley said. "Hopefully it will be a more effective process."

Currently, the city uses its board of adjustments process to seek enforcement compliance when there are issues with unsafe and substandard building code issues.

Under the new proposal, building abatement compliance would be a joint effort of the city's building division and code enforcement.

By using the code enforcement process instead, Shirley said residents will have a "better forum" to appeal their cases.

"This gives them due process up front," he said. "That makes me feel a lot better."

Once in the code enforcement process, residents would have to go through a hearing, which provides due process and an "opportunity to be heard at the front end of the process."

"The process has not really changed much," said Noell Bell, a city building official. "The process is typically there might be a complaint, then I go out and inspect it and see if there is an issue, such as a lack of hot water, then we go in and address it with the landlord and we go through this process with them."

The new process would also allow the city to issue fines for violations. If fines are not paid, the city has the ability to foreclose liens against a property owner.

"We've been working on this for over two years, so we feel like we've got this pretty dialed in," Shirley said.

The proposed change has been reviewed by the city's local planning agency and was recommended (4-0) to go before the city council at a future meeting.