To: Mayor and Board of Aldermen
From: Paul Smith
Date: October 2, 2008
Following my review of the Overcrowding Report and after the Workshop yesterday, I have some suggestions and comments that I believe will be helpful.
1. We need to understand the exact nature and magnitude of the overcrowding problems that we are being asked to address. The only data on this that I have seen is in Appendix F of the Overcrowding Report (copy attached). That information specifies that there have been 22 “overcrowding” complaints in 2008 and that there are an estimated 42-52 “overcrowding” cases in 2008. What these complaints are, and where they are is not specified. I would like to know what these complaints are and where they are alleged to be. We must know exactly what the complaint is before we can be expected to correct the situation. In addition, I would like the same information about the 26 “livability” violations that are reported for 2008 and for the 44 “property maintenance” violations that are reported for 2008. We need to know exactly WHAT the problem is before we pass new legislation to correct the problem. Failure to do this can result in creating additional problems without any reasonable basis to believe that we will be fixing the unspecified problem.
Accordingly, I recommend that at the very least, the City take steps to document future and current cases, so that we can identify nature and location and alleged violators of the specific complaints. Then this information should be made available to us for our evaluation and review.
2. I would suggest that a document be prepared by Code Enforcement that states the several existing City laws that relate to overcrowding concerns. The starting point in an effort to address overcrowding excesses is to identify the existing laws that are available for enforcement. Once this information is collected, we can then move on to address changes in existing laws and new laws.
3. Reports I have heard indicate that the procedures for enforcing existing laws are time-consuming, cumbersome and expensive. In order for us to improve these procedures, we must first know exactly what they are. I would request that the Code Enforcement staff outline what these procedures are (identifying specific legal requirements [by reference where possible to State and City Code sections]). Once the procedural hurdles are identified, we can then attempt to make changes to improve the processes.