By Sallie James
Noisy renters beware: Boca Raton is considering a new code enforcement tactic that would allow violators to be fined on the spot.
“Direct ticketing” is an alternative city officials say would produce instant results. The current system relies on a time-consuming process that sends a suspect to a special magistrate who must then determine if a violation occurred.
The subject came up at a Nov. 13 workshop during a discussion about how to curb code violations at rented single-family homes and duplexes. The city scrapped an initial proposal to register rentals because it seemed too involved.
“I think instant ticketing will be a little more responsive to the neighbors who are suffering,” said Mayor Susan Haynie.
Deputy City Manager George Brown said direct ticketing would be effective in nuisance cases such as excessive noise.
“If that person believes they were not violating the code, they can go before a magistrate,” Brown said. “I think direct ticketing is probably a more effective tool because it addresses the violation as it occurs.”
No sum for such potential fines has been established at this time.
The issue of nuisance violations and rental properties has largely focused on areas where owners have rented single-family homes to college students. Problems with noise, vehicles parking on unpaved areas, outside storage of personal items and property maintenance have cropped up in neighborhoods near Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University.
The city reported 1,986 code violations last year that included overgrown vegetation outside homes, too many cars parked in certain areas and trash all over properties. But the total number of violations in 2016 was down 400 from the year before.
Brown said the city has seen a “significant” reduction in those issues because of recent additions to code enforcement staff with added shifts on nights and weekends.
Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers said a registration program would have been burdensome and created “a huge amount of infrastructure” compared to issuing direct fines.
Council member Robert Weinroth agreed.
“I like the direct ticketing. That is the answer,” Weinroth said. “I think it gets to the root of the problem.”
The City Council is expected to revisit the issue soon.