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CITY OF MELBOURNE, FLORIDA MINUTES – REGULAR MEETING BEFORE CITY COUNCIL JANUARY 27, 2009

The City Council proposed that the draft ordinance address making temporary repairs for security or life safety violations only on vacant properties. As noted in the memorandum from the City Attorney, both the Code Compliance Division and the Code Enforcement Prosecutor have asked the City Council to revisit this issue. Regardless of whether property is vacant or not, the City would contact the property owner before coming on-site and undertaking a temporary repair. The Code Compliance Division and the Code Enforcement Prosecutor believe that the remedy of life safety violations should not turn on whether or not the property is vacant.

The ordinance allows emergency repairs to properties that involve security or life safety code violations or similar types of violations. The types of repairs involved would include, but not be limited to, properties with broken fences around swimming pools that present easy access by neighborhood children; unstable electrical conditions; and homes with broken doors and windows that are unsecured that allow potential use by transients. The ordinance also allows for assessments for such repairs made.

Mrs. Tasker said that she believes this is a necessary ordinance. She asked if the City’s liability would be increased if our repairs/corrections were insufficient. Attorney Gougelman replied that it could; however, it amounts to a balancing of equities. Council needs to determine if life safety violations, which in some instances could cost a life, should be ignored so liability is not increased, or if the correction should be made, which may increase liability.

Mr. Schluckebier explained the current process, which involves notice to the property owner, time to take corrective measures, Code Enforcement Board action, and a running fine. There are some who believe that we place ourselves in a bad liability position by not taking immediate action. Staff has come to the conclusion that this ordinance would decrease the City’s net liability by improving a safety situation.

Mrs. Corby asked if these funds are coming from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The City Manager replied no and said that if we need to take care of a problem, it would be assessed against the property. Mrs. Corby asked who would perform the repairs. Mr. Schluckebier replied that either City crews or, in limited cases, we may contract for repairs.

Mrs. Corby referenced the relatively low number of foreclosures in Melbourne. She asked if the money the City received to handle foreclosure problems is applicable to any portion of this ordinance. Mr. Schluckebier replied that it may be three to six months before we see the first dollar from the federal grant money, so generally it would not be applicable.

Mrs. Corby asked why that money wasn’t allocated for maintenance and foreclosure problems. The City Manager replied that the City has not received any money yet from the NSP.

Housing and Community Development Director Melinda Thomas explained that the state submitted its action plan to the federal government and approval of that plan is pending. Until then, the City is not able to apply for funds.

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