City departments will detail procedures for addressing code violations, including why certain extreme violations can linger for years and whether legislation is warranted to improve departmental coordination and effectiveness
San Francisco, CA - At today's Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisors Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen will call for an oversight hearing to review city processes for inspecting and enforcing code violations in San Francisco buildings. At the hearing, the Department of Building Inspection, Planning Department, Department of Public Health, and Fire Department will be asked to detail departmental procedures for responding to code violations and deciding whether and how to enforce. The departments will also be asked to explain why certain serious code violations are allowed to linger for long periods of time.
"Every neighborhood has one or more dilapidated building with boarded up windows, broken stairs, major incomplete construction work, obvious extreme hoarding, or even entire portions of the building missing," said Supervisor Wiener. "These extreme and obvious violations can sometimes last for years. Inspections occur, but no action is taken by city departments, despite repeated complaints by neighbors about dangerous and blighted conditions. One challenge is that our complicated code inspection system lacks sufficient coordination and communication among the different departments. In addition, departments sometimes appear to be reluctant to pursue enforcement due to budget concerns. The system isn't working for our neighborhoods."
"I have spent three years working with a team of City departments to address some of the most problematic properties, but to really tackle this problem City-wide and clean up our neighborhoods, all departments need to be prioritizing code enforcement," said Supervisor Malia Cohen. "When the City fails to hold negligent property owners accountable for compromising the public health, safety and welfare of our City we are failing our residents."
At the hearing, each department will detail internal procedures for how inspections are conducted and violations pursued. The departments will also offer examples of particularly troubling cases, and report yearly statistics, including the number of cases received, the number of referrals made, and the number of cases closed. Departments can refer more egregious cases to either the City Attorney's Office or departmental enforcement committees for further action. However, these cases are often not referred, and thus left unresolved due to budget or other considerations unrelated to the merits of the violation. One of the goals of the hearing will be to explore whether legislation is needed to ensure better coordination and more consistent enforcement by the city departments.