Richmond’s code enforcement unit, facing budget cuts, offers before-and-after pics of its work

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Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus is fighting to keep the attorney who works with the code enforcement unit, as her contract is up for renewal.
The photo shows before and after shot of a property that was cleaned up by code enforcement staffers.

The work performed earlier this month by the Richmond Police Department’s code enforcement unit, which is facing significant cuts next fiscal year due to the city’s budget deficit, was highlighted in City Manager Bill Lindsay’s latest newsletter.

The unit works to swiftly resolve citizen complaints about properties that are causing blight in the city. During the week starting June 9, according to Linsday’s newsletter, abatement crews removed 28.16 tons of debris from public right-of-ways and cleared 33.98 tons of weeds from six locations, including wood from Spring Street.

That kind of production would be greatly reduced if City Council approves the latest budget proposal, which includes deep cuts to the code enforcement unit, said Tim Higares, the code enforcement unit manager.

City staff is proposing to slash more than $900,000 from code enforcement’s $4.4 million budget next fiscal year, a reduction of 18.8-percent. If approved, those cuts would lead to delayed and reduced responses to requests regarding weed abatement, the maintenance of vacant and city-owned properties and illegal dumping.

“Any cuts to our unit will have immediate effects on the community,” Higaris told the Richmond Standard. “We work diligently every day to improve the quality of life of  ALL of our residents and our neighborhoods through our progressive, thoughtful and effective code enforcement program.  If the recommended cuts do occur,  it will gravely impact our ability to address quality of life and health and safety violations expeditiously.  Further, we will be not be able to continue to provide ‘proactive’ enforcement and will be forced to revert back to the unsuccessful reactive enforcement approach that was occurring prior to my arrival six years ago.”

Unfortunately, the budget picture appears so grim that tough decisions must be made to solve a budget deficit that was at one point quoted at more than $20 million. The city’s libraries and arts institutions are also facing significant reductions.

We’ll learn more about the budget mess Tuesday, the city council’s deadline to pass the budget for fiscal year 2014-15.

As promised, the before and after shots:

659 4th St –City Lot

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 After

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450 5th St

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After

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500 Blk of Gertrude Ave –North Richmond

Before and After

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319 Nevin Ave

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After

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Logs, weeds and debris cleared along the railroad

Before and After

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Also, this isn’t he first time we’ve reported on the code enforcement unit’s work. The unit also tears down the city’s worst properties that are vacant and causing neighborhood blight. Back in April, we posted photos of the demolition of a property on Leke Way.

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