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Fresno prepares for zealous code enforcement with many question marks

THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE

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Code enforcement is Rudd’s make-or-break moment.

A lot of the inspiration for the Code Enforcement Strike Team “was me stewing over ‘what if?’” Rudd told me in his City Hall conference room. “When I ran it by the Mayor, she had additional thoughts, as well. Between her and I, we came up with a solid plan. As she said, ‘OK, you’ve got the ball.’

“That why I told her, ‘For this to work, I got to have the ball and I’ve got to be able to run with it.’ I’ll eventually I’ll it over to DARM (Development and Resource Management department) or whoever. But I want to be the one to engineer a wholesale change, a long term change in how we come to code (enforcement).”

There are plenty of other details to the Strike Team. For example, the Fire Department will be represented as well as police. Again, the focus is on threats to public health in problem areas as shown by the city’s statistics.

Nor is it unusual for code enforcement officers in the field to be accompanied by police officers. Rudd said code enforcement officers often head into potentially dangerous situations.

Rudd said he’s not trying to manipulate the politics of the Code Enforcement Task Force’s Phase II by putting cops on the Strike Team. For example, he said the police officers most likely will be in civilian clothes when they head to the proverbial Mrs. Smith’s apartment.

Still, Rudd said, fundamental change is coming to Fresno. The new general plan calls for it. The new development code calls for it. Code enforcement will never again be seen in the same light. And rooting out crime from every neighborhood is basic to health and human decency for all.

The last part also requires buy-in from all.

“OK, I can make sure the toilet flushes,” Rudd said. “But what about the guy down the street who is putting you or your family at risk because of the transactions and the things that are going on in that complex? Anywhere else in this community, someone would be on the phone to us saying, ‘I think my neighbor is dealing drugs because there are a lot of cars going up and down the street, and I don’t feel safe.’

“People living in these complexes should have the same protection.”

George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

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