Data collected by the Cortez Planning and Building department since 2012 shows there’s been a roughly 513 percent increase in code-enforcement actions over the past three years as the city tightens up its stance on blight abatement.
Planning and Building has been tracking its code-enforcement and blight-abatement progress with Web-based software, and department director Sam Proffer said it has resulted in increased code-enforcement actions. The department has also been working with the Cortez Police Department to expand code-enforcement officer Bob Lindvall’s duties from monitoring weed and rubbish to include junk cars, unsafe structures and zoning.
As a result, since 2012, code-enforcement actions have jumped 513 percent – from 119 in 2012 to 730 in 2014 – according to data presented at the Aug. 25 City Council workshop. In 2015 alone, there have been 595 violations as of Aug. 19.
Most of the code-enforcement citations fall under the weed and yard waste category, followed by junk and rubbish, and inoperable/unlicensed vehicles.
Some of the most noticeable sources of blight – structurally unsound, dilapidated, unsafe properties – are some of the more difficult cases to tackle, Proffer said, because in many cases, the perpetrator is an out-of-town landlord or is financially or physically unable to make repairs.
“When we go out to some of these dilapidated properties ... it’s usually that they don’t have the funds, and in that case we try and work with them,” said Proffer. “If they have an out-of-state property owner, those we don’t give a whole lot of grace to.”
Proffer also said that the data from the past three years reinforces the theory that areas with increased levels of blight also exhibit increased police activity.
According to the data, 47 percent of all code-enforcement calls in the past three years came from the northeast quadrant of the city, as did 48 percent of police calls. Only .01 percent of code-enforcement calls came from the northwest quadrant of the city, an area that made up only .07 of police call volume.
“I think it falls in line with the cluster of other studies out there. Areas with higher blight tend to have higher police department call volume,” said Proffer.