Code Enforcement: Confronting Rose Park’s Broken-Window Syndrome
Have you ever been notified by the City of Long Beach that your house needs paint or the weeds are marching across your front yard like invading troops? If so, you may have wondered why the City wastes its time caring about something as insignificant as weeds.
The answer is simple. Peeling paint, yards overgrown with weeds, fences that lean or have broken boards affect the quality of life in our neighborahoods. It is called the Broken Window Syndrome. Where there is one broken window (or fence falling down, or house shedding its painted skin), there will soon be more. Apparently, it is easier for humans to put off repairs or dump trash illegally if we know someone else has done it first. It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it easier.
Enter the Code Enforcement Program. The City of Long Beach is divided into four Code Enforcement areas which are aligned with existing divisions of the Police Department. Each area has a Code Enforcement Team that is overseen by a team leader and works with neighborhood associations and local business groups to resolve these kinds of issues.
The RPNA has a volunteer Code Enforcement group made up of local residents who help keep our neighborhood in good shape. That also helps keep our property values up, and with the real estate market slowing down, that is important to most of us. These individuals meet regularly with city officials to discuss problems and explore solutions. In many cases, a letter or visit to the owner of the offending property takes care of the issue.
The homeowner or renter might not be aware that a free standing canopy is probably illegal, for example, or that garages cannot be converted to living spaces without a city permit. The City has also been very good about giving people time to correct the problem, if there is a good faith effort involved.
However, in those cases where the property owner refuses to cooperate, the City can end up taking the offender to Court, where the resolution can be very time-consuming and expensive, much more than a new coat of paint for a peeling house.
You can avoid these hassles by knowing what is considered a common violation. Here’s a partial list:
- Boats, vehicles, trailers, campers or cars illegally parked in the front, side yard, or an unapproved surface (that also means no parking in the front yard on the grass)
- Inoperative vehicles stored on residential property
- Overgrown weeds, trash or debris in yard areas (likely to house rats and vermin)
- Building materials, furniture, appliances, or junk stored in the front, side, or rear yards where visible from the street of alley
- Trash cans visible from the street. It’s fine to put them out for trash pick-up, but they must be put away that evening.
- Overflowing trash cans or dumpsters
- Deteriorated abandoned buildings
- Garages not accessible for parking
- Garages converted to dwelling use without permits
- Room additions constructed without permits
- Security bars on bedroom windows without release mechanism
- Run-down buildings with peeling paint, graffiti, broken windows or doors, crumbling steps or deteriorated roof
- Walls or fences that are overheight, need paint, are falling down, or have broken parts or holes
- Free-standing canopies
- Screens missing from foundation vents, attic vents, or windows
- Outdoor display of merchandise (furniture, tables, shelves, or any other display)
- Unpermitted or illegal signs (including banners and pennants)
- More than 10% of the windows covered with signs or boards
- Indoor furniture (upholstered) on the porch or visible from the street
The RPNA can always use more people on the Code Enforcement committee. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to help, but simply don’t have the time to join the RPNA team, you can report a code enforcement violation by phoning (562) 570-CODE. You can do this anonymously by simply reporting the address and the kind of violation involved.
Help us keep our neighborhood one of which we can be proud!