Monday, October 20, 2008

Because There Aren't Enough People in Jail Already

An 83-year-old woman may soon go to jail because a bedroom in her house is "supposed" to be a garage.
"It's traumatic. It's like tearing my house down," she said. "I bought this place 30 years ago, and it was always a bedroom. And now they are trying to shove this down my throat."

City building and safety director Tom Hartung said that an illegally converted garage poses health and safety risks but that going to court is a last resort.

"To say we should not enforce the ordinances based on the demographics of the owner of the property is unrealistic," he said. "We can't do that."

Hartung said that in his 25-year career, he's seen only one person jailed over a violation.
So there was no problem for the past 30 years, but somehow a concern has risen in 18 months that the house will fall on her or her neighbors? And why "can't" they "do that"? You didn't enforce it for 30 years and none of her neighbors have complained, is it really necessary to enforce her to change or face jail?
Her troubles began when a code enforcement officer spotted a light shining from her garage into the street, a code violation. He noticed her trash cans in front of the house (another violation) and weeds poking through the concrete (yet another one).
Again, no complaints from neighbors but a nosy code enforcement officer. Officer? Really? Is that part of the job title to make sure no one questions you without getting arrested? Are trash cans and weeds more a problem than let's say meth use and armed robbery? Do we really need to focus on these items?
"I never had a garage," said Camargo, who parks in the driveway. "I don't need one or want one."
Too bad! You're going to make one for your home and love it! Or go to jail! This really does sound like they're doing this for her best interests.

What does the city gain from this? No one has complained about the house, there are no threats of depreciating value, and it's stood fine for 30 years. Is a survivor of breast cancer and brain surgery needed to have this financial pressure put upon her?

1 comment:

Andrea said...

I really don't understand this. Why is it a health and safety hazard? For her? Even though she's been there for 30 years without problems? Does the inspector benefit from reporting her? This story really does seem ridiculous.