By Tawny Clary
Code Enforcement is a multi-faceted endeavor as are most jobs, but it is quite interesting in that in addition to a daily routine, no two days are alike,” says Joseph Rodello of Edgewater Code Enforcement. Rodello begins each day catching up on “emails and phone messages.” This usually takes the better part of an hour. However, Rodello says, “Some days, especially Mondays or after holidays there is an increase in correspondence.”
Then, the day really begins when it is time for him to go out in the field. The city is divided into four quadrants. Rodello visits one section per day on a rotation. It works out really well since any violation has a 72-hour response time. Since there are four quadrants to the city, this means a four-day rotation, allowing that 72 hours before he returns to the same quadrant again.
This is a very busy time of year for Code Enforcement, as the most common violations tend to be weeds and litter/garbage. While these tend to be the most common problems for this time of year, they are certainly not all that Rodello deals with.
“There are follow-ups to attend to from previous cases, follow-ups associated with the aforementioned phone calls and emails, and current and possible future violations,” he explains.
Trees and shrubs are not as much of a problem for Code Enforcement unless they affect a public sidewalk. The only time public sidewalks are more of an issue is during the winter when they need to be shoveled. Some lesser known violations that Code Enforcement handles are vehicles, deceased animals, graffiti and even illegally parked campers.
As the City of Edgewater strives to maintain a clean, pleasant environment for residents and businesses alike, they keep a “proactive” stance on graffiti. To enforce this, they offer residents a service to remove graffiti for free. Residents can simply fill out a Graffiti Removal Form to authorize the city to remove this type of vandalism from their property. The form is kept on file for the duration of time that the resident occupies that property. Once it is on file, it applies to any future graffiti incidents (hopefully not too many) that may occur.
For the most part, Rodello keeps a good relationship and an open communication with residents and business owners. He understands that everyone is human and busy lives can get in the way of seemingly mundane maintenance and tasks. While he may have to leave a warning for a violation or at times abatement, having a conversation with someone - either by phone or in person - usually resolves the issue. He adds that the most common issue is just unawareness.
Driving between the parameters of Edgewater with Rodello, it became abundantly clear how he sees the streets thanks to his occupation. Apparently, he has it better than previous Code Enforcement did. Along with his handy-dandy Municipal Code book, he has a portable laptop and printer set-up to create violations much quicker. This means he can have a ticket drawn up in 10 minutes.
Not that Code Enforcement is trying to hand out violations like candy, but it does help them save time so they can handle more urgent situations, especially cases that may affect people’s safety. This may be situations “such as a downed power line or tree, pipe burst, or other similar problems that [need to] be addressed immediately.”
According to Rodello, “2017 brought more building violations than ever before.” He adds that “Because building violations are directly related to safety, these issues rack up most of the Code Enforcement cases.” However, when there is not an emergency, everything else is on a “first come, first serve basis” – save graffiti. According to Rodello, roughly 97 percent of these types of violations are taken care of by Code Enforcement and around 3 percent taken care of by the city.
In another effort to remain proactive, the City of Edgewater offers Special Item Pickup for residents who are customers of the city’s trash service. This service is free of charge up to twice per year. It is a $50 charge thereafter for each additional pickup. Time is limited on the days these pickups are provided. The city will pick up certain items such as bikes, large toys, small auto parts, weeds, brush and furniture items such as tables, chairs, sofas, beds, lamps, etc. There are rules regarding the amount of items per pickup and size. For more information, the city has an application with more details.
In general, the city and Code Enforcement strive to collaborate with the community to keep the city clean and prosperous for everyone. Rodello wants residents who receive a warning notice to know that they are not “being picked on or singled out.”
Rodello says, “Our aim is to ensure that everyone in Edgewater is provided an environment that is clean, healthy, and safe….Every once in a great while, everyone needs a gentle reminder or a slight nudge to get back on track,” adding that he works “very hard to provide fair enforcement with a true love of the Edgewater community.