Code enforcement a contentious issue

08/06/2008 4:30 PM by

The Richmond Voice has the story of area resident Rosalene Bullock and her experiences with being cited by the city for code violations at her property. Cited for “having trash in her yard, garage roof deterioration, and exterior housing damages”, Bullock was allegedly given 5 weeks to make the repairs to her garage and house (in which she is living) or see the structures demolished.

In their signature style, the Voice article first simplifies a complex issue and then throws in a dash of racist paranoia by implying that city is acting in collusion with investors to push people out of “their Black low-income neighborhoods”. It seems, though, what is happening is mix of friction from changing expectations in some areas, a more aggressive approach by the city to actually enforce the code, and the real possibility that someone has made a mistake.

Under-enforcement of the code over the years has resulted in many properties that are bad shape and would be very costly to bring up to code. It sounds like this is part of what has put Ms.Bullock in a bind, at least as much the attention of other residents that do not want a neighborhood where collapsing garages and yards strewn with trash are the norm.

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From the street, though, Ms.Bullock’s house is not at all the eyesore that would warrant demolition (as came up in discussion when the list of houses was first published back in May).

It is a shame when low-income residents face losing their homes when they are unable to maintain them. It is also not desirable to allow properties to deteriorate to the point that they have a negative impact on surrounding community. What is the solution to this?

There are 10 different inspection zones in the 1st Precinct. Here is a map of the zones; the contact info for each inspector is listed below.

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