Tool 2: Targeting Resources
Code enforcement systems that devote all or most of their resources to responding to complaints tend to result in limited resources being scattered unproductively. Although some individual problems are resolved, such systems are usually less than effective in fostering either consistent compliance or improved neighborhood conditions. Whether to target resources is a key policy, but precisely where to target resources is a local decision.
Cities can decide to target around different aspects of the problem:
Any of these targeting approaches can be combined; a focus on a particular quality-of-life problem or a focus on responsible parties can be concentrated in those areas where it is most needed, rather than spread citywide.
In addition to targeting, manager of a strategic code enforcement system may want to identify priorities in terms of which conditions are most important and thus most demanding of citations. Not all violations are of equal weight, whether in terms of occupants’ health and safety or in terms of their impact on the neighborhood. Systems should be adopted so that inspectors know exactly what to prioritize, so that their efforts are most productive.
Some cities have developed programs to divert most minor code violations from the legal track, to be resolved through more informal means. Experience shows that the great majority of such violations are capable of being resolved informally.
Targeting code enforcement resources is completely legal if done correctly. The public agency must be able to show a rational basis for the nature of the targeting, and that the decisions are not arbitrary or based on inappropriate grounds. Having good data is an important part of this process.