By Brad Stager
Maintaining basic overall aesthetics while promoting health and safety within structures and the landscape outside of them is how Hillsborough County’s Code Enforcement Department serves the community.
Besides ensuring buildings are properly maintained to guarantee structural integrity and that landscaping is appropriate to the property and surrounding environment, enforcing compliance with water restrictions, commercial signage rules (no emitting of smoke, vapors or sounds from signs allowed), overgrown grass limits, inoperable vehicle disposal and operating a business where zoning does not permit it are also part of a code enforcement officer’s routine.
When a property owner gets a visit about a possible violation, Code Enforcement Officer Larry Hoffman wants people to know that the goal is to achieve compliance through cooperation and support.
“We really want to work with homeowners and property owners,” said Hoffman in a Hillsborough Television (HTV) interview on the county’s YouTube channel. “We really just want to get everything into compliance. We’re not looking to stick people with fines or things like that. Our mission is to just bring the property back, return it to the neighborhood. That’s our goal, that’s what we want to do.”
Hoffman added that fines for violations can range from $50 a day to $5,000 a day.
Hillsborough County’s Code Enforcement Board is responsible for reviewing cases and assessing fines. The board meets monthly and hears evidence in code enforcement cases before rendering a decision. Residents with expertise in real estate, engineering, architecture, general contracting and business can serve on the board as one of its seven members and two alternates who are appointed by the County Board of Commissioners for terms of three years.
There are code enforcement volunteer opportunities available as well. Residents who are 16 and older can help keep their neighborhoods clean by removing illegal signs, often called ‘snipe’ signs, as a member of Volunteers in Public Service (VIPS). A background check and training are required to participate.
Residents can report possible code violations, pay fines or find out more about the county’s code enforcement efforts by visiting hcflgov.net or calling 274-6600.