Marco Council not ready to remove code enforcement from police department

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle

The Marco Island City Council is not ready to take away code enforcement from the police department, despite receiving numerous complaints about the selective nature of enforcement.

After Councilor Victor Rios had suggested moving code enforcement under the city manager, Interim City Manager David Harden requested that he have time to review the problems before a decision is made.

“I think I understand what the issues are and give us a chance to see if we can make it better,” Harden said.

Rios had authored a white paper regarding the possibility of moving code enforcement and included how there was no enforcement of the city’s sign ordinance during election season.

Rios also cited the two-year case of Joe’s Barbershop, which was cited for having too many chairs for the number of parking spots in its lot.

This resulted in more than $20,000 in legal fees only for the Planning Board to determine that the business was in compliance.  

Community Service Officers listen during a Code Enforcement Magistrate Hearing in this file photo.

While he said he was not trying to chastise the police department, Rios said he was trying to point out the issues with code enforcement.

“We are lousy at code enforcement,” Rios said. “It is selective. I think part of the problem is that the way it is structured, some of the people trying to enforce some of the code are not properly trained.”

Harden said that one way the city could receive better results if it hired full-time employees for code enforcement, which could be addressed through the budget process.

Councilor Sam Young echoed Rios’ comments about the performance of code enforcement but said he believed the police department was the correct department to oversee it.

Young, who was victim to people removing his election signs from legal areas during election season, said the city needed to make the process more transparent.

“I think it extends beyond the signs,” Young said. “We’ve heard from citizens that when they lodge a complaint with code enforcement, nothing gets done.”

Young said there was no visibility or process, which needed to be remedied.

He said that if people submit a complaint, they should be able to know when it was lodged, what the outcome was and how long the process took.

“They need to step up and do the job and allocate the resources necessary to have the officers informed of what the ordinances are, look for violations and not just rely on citizens to report them,” Young said.

While Councilor Jared Grifoni was supportive of hearing what recommendations Harden had about code enforcement, he said he viewed it was a civil matter and that the city should encourage compliance, not fines.