Code Compliance Authority Given to Police to Reduce Crime in Georgia City’s Apartments
MARIETTA, Ga. — The Marietta City Council has passed an ordinance targeting properties with what the city deems as high-crime rates for enrollment in its “crime reduction program.”
The original ordinance gave police officers carte blanche to assess health and safety code violations on properties participating in the program. Property owners would be assessed a $250 fee. Additionally, owners would have to agree to a “criminal trespass affidavit” allowing the police to search outside the property for code violations, according to Police Chief Dan Flynn.
The crime rate threshold will be determined by the police department using a formula that calculates the average number of crimes per 1,000 people at each apartment community, Flynn said. The department will then compare that rate to the average amount of crimes at all the apartment communities in the city. Apartment owners who disagree with the police department’s calculations and assessment can appeal the decision with the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The ordinance was opposed by the Atlanta Apartment Association (AAA). Despite AAA’s success with working with other cities on similar measures, AAA’s repeated overtures to the city to be included in the process were declined.
Philip Goldstein, the sole city councilman opposed to the ordinance, expressed pointed concerns that such a program violated constitutional property and due process rights. He also noted that the program served as a shortcut to addressing code violations already under the purview of other city entities. In response to his comments, Chief Flynn and the city attorney altered the language of the ordinance, making participation voluntary instead of mandatory. They also clarified that police cannot exceed the existing requirements of the city code when inspecting properties and suggesting improvements. The $250 fee remains.
It is unclear how the now-voluntary ordinance will add to the city’s existing voluntary Crime-Free Housing program. Participation in that program is very low, with only eight out of the total 46 apartment communities in the city participating.
Marietta Daily Journal, Atlanta Apartment Association