WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (FOX 13) - Winter Haven is taking a gentler approach to get people to correct code violations on their property.
The city just kicked off a program to give residents a second chance to correct their code enforcement violations - and offer them help do it.
Rather than immediately writing a citation, code enforcement officers try to help the person get the job done.
Let’s say someone has junk in their backyard.
“Solid waste will come through. They’ll pick that garbage up, put it in the back, then that relieves the problem right away,” said the city’s new Public Safety Director, Charlie Bird.
Bird, the former police chief, now oversees code enforcement, fire, and police departments.
“Obviously, the adversarial, the fines, don’t always work,” he told FOX 13. “This is an idea to try something a little different.”
Bird, who plans to periodically go out with code enforcement officers, walked along 3rd Street Northeast with one on Thursday.
They gave one resident numbers to put up on her house so emergency vehicles would be able to find it. They talked to another resident about cutting back foliage which had overgrown onto the sidewalk.
The new approach is an experiment. After one year, the city will determine if it’s working and whether to continue.
In the meantime, Bird is quick to point out that people can still be fined for code violations if they ignore an ongoing problem.