Q&A Of The Day – Florida’s New Code Enforcement Law Part 1
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio
Today’s entry: Brian – I recently was informed by a neighbor that Governor DeSantis signed into law that any person notifying code enforcement of a perceived code violation needs to disclose their name and address. Why on earth would we no longer be able to anonymously help code enforcement do their job? Years ago, I reported another neighbor for allowing their swimming pool to go unsecured for months after their fence was falling down. A child could drown! I’m not the busy body, block captain. I only complain when weeks go by as an unsafe situation is being ignored. I believe in helping law/code enforcement ensure our safety and comply with the laws/codes on the books. There must be a good reason for our governor to sign such a law. Please do my homework for me.
Bottom Line: You’re correct, at the end of June, Governor DeSantis signed Senate Bill 60, aka the County and Municipal Code Enforcement bill into law which took effect July 1st. Notably, as it speaks to the potential merits of the legislation, it passed with broad support in the state legislature, passing 27-11 in the state senate and 81-35 in the state house. So, what specifically is in the new law? It states:
- A person designated as a code inspector may not initiate an investigation of a potential violation of a duly enacted code or ordinance by way of an anonymous complaint. A person who reports a potential violation of a code or an ordinance must provide his or her name and address to the governing body of the respective board of county commissioners before an investigation occurs.
Straight forward. If you want to report a potential code violation you must provide your name and address. There is one exception and it’s this:
- This paragraph does not apply if the person designated as a code inspector has reason to believe that the violation presents an imminent threat to public health, safety, or welfare or imminent destruction of habitat or sensitive resources.
Now, to your example about the exposed pool and your concerns a child could drown, would that constitute a potential emergency under which wouldn’t require disclosure? That’s a good question. Like all new laws, the finer points about what the definition of an “imminent threat” might be leaves a little room for subjectivity. Until and unless specific examples, such as the pool, are settled in court, it's up to the judgement call of local governments to determine “imminent threats”. As for the motivation for the legislation... I have no doubt you’ve not abused anonymous reporting as you’ve suggested. Unfortunately, many have, and it’s been increasingly pervasive in South Florida over the years. I’ll share with you a personal perspective as an example and explain why I’m personally supportive of this law in the second part of today’s Q&A.