What is Code Enforcement?

Code Enforcement Officer Definition
"A Code Enforcement Officer is a sworn or non-sworn inspector, officer or investigator, employed by a city, or county, or city and county, who possesses specialized training in, and whose primary duties are the prevention, detection, investigation, and enforcement of violations of laws regulating public nuisance, public health, safety, and welfare, public works, business activities and consumer protection, building standards, land-use, or municipal affairs."

Code Enforcement Definition Expanded
"Code enforcement is a function local governments perform that citizens consider important for accomplishing community goals, such as protecting property values and the environment. Others view code enforcement as an annoying intrusion into the free use of private property. Traditionally, it has been a process whereby local governments use various techniques to gain compliance with duly-adopted regulations such as land use and zoning ordinances, health and housing codes, sign standards, and uniform building and fire codes. In recent years, federal and state regulations governing air and water quality and the transport and storage of hazardous wastes, and requirements for implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act have come into play. Local governments are now obliged to include enforcement of these rules and regulations in the array of responsibilities they assume for protecting the public health and welfare.

Contemporary code enforcement involves local enforcement officials in the job of ensuring compliance with policies, codes, rules, regulations, and permits in a proper, timely fashion within the limits of the law. Consequently, enforcement officials must be fully acquainted with the adoption process and the thinking behind the regulations they enforce as well as the legal limits placed on them. Conversely, those who write the laws must understand the problems particular to enforcement and administration as the codes and regulations are implemented.

In this context the code enforcement official is a unique public servant whose responsibility lies squarely between policy making and the realms of law enforcement and litigation. The U. S, Congress, state legislatures, and city councils and county boards of supervisors adopt policies, codes, rules and regulations to solve problems or respond to federal, state, or community mandates. Enforcement applies these laws to specific properties, either by using warnings and notices to persuade voluntary compliance or by filing court actions, all under the rubric of ‘police powers’. Local enforcement officials and those who write the policies, codes, rules, and regulations are obligated to understand the management of the code enforcement function and the entire complex process."

Excerpt from Code Enforcement – A Comprehensive Approach by Joseph M. Schilling and James B. Hare. © 1994, Solano Press Books, www.solano.com