We don’t need a code enforcement SWAT team

DeKalb city council will discuss its condemnation procedures at committee of the whole Tuesday, May 29, beginning 5 pm. Proposed changes are here.

What I like about the proposal are the addition of follow-up steps: to gather contact information on residential tenants for ongoing notification purposes, and to assist evacuees to relocate.

One thing that council should not do is put the contrived “emergency condemnation” procedures on the books. What went wrong with the last condemnation is not that current procedures are inadequate, but that the city didn’t follow them. When inspectors found problems with Lord Stanley’s last fall, they should have re-inspected them, warned them, penalized them, called in the county, and notified everybody properly. They did none of these things. Instead, the city ambushed them with what looks now to have been a fake emergency. The fiasco was a standout for its utter lack of due process, and to put a seal of approval on this invention of “emergency condemnation” would only encourage future abuses.

Even to consider a rewrite of these codes is bizarre. DeKalb has adopted the International Building Code for handling these matters. What’s good enough for the rest of the country will work for us if we follow it.