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Enforcers get though on city code violations

By: Jonathan J. Cooper

Dec. 16, 2006

An influx of new staff means Tempe businesses will have a much harder time skirting city ordinances.

Tempe recently beefed up its commercial code-compliance team, turning the previous one-man band into a five-person team.

In the past two months, the city has all but eliminated a longtime backlog of code violation complaints, said Jeff Tamulevich, the city’s commercial code-compliance supervisor.

Previously, the backlog made it nearly impossible for the lone code inspector to make proactive assessments, Tamulevich said.

“We were receiving a lot of complaints that couldn’t be responded to,” he said.

Now, officials make proactive inspections “on a daily basis,” Tamulevich added.

The newly enhanced inspection compliance team is also boosting its education and outreach efforts through a partnership with Tempe’s Chamber of Commerce.

Through the partnership, Tamulevich said, the chamber has a “point person” who can help member businesses “understand what our codes are, what our enforcement officers are going to be doing in the field.”

Many commercial code violations in Tempe come from paint and landscape changes without proper city permits, Tamulevich said. Permits are required for most exterior building modifications, and can be obtained from the city’s Deve

Advertising signs blocking city-owned sidewalks are also common code violations, Tamulevich added.

The extra hands also allow city officials the time to make violation and citation notices friendlier and more helpful, Tamulevich said.

When they witness a violation, inspectors now go out and speak with the owner or manager to explain the city code requirements.

“We’re sort of taking a different stance than we ever have before with commercial code compliance,” Tamulevich said. “We’re actually going in and explaining why we’re there instead of simply sending a violation notice in the mail. The business owners in Tempe seem to really like the approach we’re taking at this point.”

The commercial code compliance team inspects properties zoned for commercial, industrial and multi-family residential use.

Tempe also recently hired 10 part-time inspectors for single-family neighborhoods after a recommendation from the city’s ad hoc Rental Housing Task Force.

“(Businesses) understand the ordinance now,” Tamulevich said. “They’ve got a better grasp of what the ordinance is all about.”


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