Wednesday, March 16, 2011

By-Law Enforcement... the update

Well it has been an interesting few days. This post was ALMOST titled "By-Law Enforcement aka Cherry picking part two", but isn't.
I bought another house last week. Wednesday I signed the offer and sent my request in for a Boarded Building Exemption Certificate, Friday I got possession and boarded the smashed out windows up, cut back (or out) the tree (s) Saturday, Monday I had a crew cleaning up the burned out mess and Tuesday I had a visit from a different by-law enforcement officer. (different house, different area, different officer)
He asked my "crew" if they could take a look around inside. My guys know the drill. No one comes in without me being there, and if any one asks any questions, hand them my card and say "I don't get paid enough to know anything... call him". (It's believable)
I've always been a little amazed at the things I hear from inspectors. "Well I was talking to a man on site..." Oh? Who? What was his name? Title? Was he holding a broom? A shovel?
Anyway, I get a call to arrange for an inspection. Sorry, you can't come in. I've already applied for a BBEC and you don't have jurisdiction. The building is now a work site, isn't' "vacant", and I'm not letting you bill me $1K for your inspection that will summarize less than what I'm going to do with this burned out shell.
We "jousted" a bit, he threatened to get a warrant, I told him I'll appeal anything he says or sends me... by this point I was a bit put out already with the whole spiel. I only got two places, what are the chances? I was feeling "picked on", knowing that that was not really the case. I know there is never anything "personal" about this, but we can't help by take it personally at times.
Today I got a letter about the first address from Inspections. It basically said, "Ya, we reviewed the building, you're right, you don't need a Boarded Permit, or an exemption Certificate. If you need to board up later to do the work, contact us and we'll issue one then."
OK. Cool.
Then I get a phone call from By-Law Enforcement. Our conversation was far more civil. It started differently. Like we both had some respect for one another, and knew that we were approaching things from sometimes "at-odds" positions and jobs, but tried to understand the others point of view and position.
"We reviewed the file, and  the photos and we'd like to work with you on this. We may have been a little over zealous and discussed this internally" That was the gist of the conversation. I won't get into the "details" of it all. Some of it is "covering our asses" type of stuff, which I totally get ( That "I won't ask, because I know you can't say, but we both understand, wink wink sorta thing). The inspection fee went away, but the order stayed.
OK. Cool. I didn't have an issue with the order. As I said, I was doing all that stuff anyway.
"And I understand you appealed the order, and the inspection fee. That's certainly your right, but since we'll waived the fee..."
"You know", I said. "I never wanted to do that, but I felt I had no choice. I only had a certain amount of time to file that appeal according to the by-law. I don't see a need for us to go through that process. I think I'll call the City Clerk and cancel that. If we' re going to work together, there's no need for that exercise."
"OK", he said, "you know I'm not asking you do do that."
" Of course not. That would be completely inappropriate. I'm suggesting that if we're going to communicate and work together, then that's not necessary."
We also chatted about my new property which we can work on now because the work we need to do is not affected by the season. I guess someone passed on my BBEC request, and my little "rant" with the officer the day before was discussed. "We'll leave that in the hands of Existing Buildings for a few months, drive by to ensure work is continuing, but leave it alone for now."
OK. Cool.
Then a return call from another department. "I understand you want to come in for a permit for 123 Anywhere St. When were you thinking of coming in?"
"Later this week, early next. Is there a fire inspection report done on it yet? If there isn't, I won't get past the initial application, and they won't even take my plans."
"Let me check... no... can I come tomorrow to do that?"
"Sure. What time?"
OK. Cool.
I'm much happier now. I understand the need for the by-law, the need to be firm and forceful, and the need to temper that in certain situations. I never like going over someones head, and maybe it's different in the City, one can't know what instructions are given to the front line guys, but I always try to deal reasonably with the guy I meet and talk with face to face. I don't need or want a pissing contest... I just don't have the time, but I'll make it if I need to. If I'm wrong, I'll take my lumps, but if I'm not, you won't beat me soft.

The by-law is an important tool. It's here to protect "us". There are places that historically sat for MANY years. They are becoming less and less. There was one behind a house I used to own. What a dump, boarded up, roof had holes, door was being kicked in all the time, yard was never looked after...

For the people who let their properties go to hell, maintain nothing, and reap the benefits of increased sale prices while letting the neighbours deal with the mess, the by-laws need to be enforced.
During our "clean up" (40 cubic yards hauled to the dump in 3 days, and we're just getting started) I found an order sent in 2010 in the fall. The yards a mess, the tree needs to be trimmed... NONE of that was done. The frigging tree was growing right INTO the roof. Yes INTO the roof.
Those are the guys...

It's hard to always blame the land lord. You wouldn't believe the shit in this place. The basement was FULL of "shit", the main floor was FULL of "shit" the second floor is FULL of "shit". By FULL, I mean, there is no where to walk, debris is everywhere. There were so many condoms found, they must have been running girls out of the main floor. Dog feces wasn't picked up all winter... oye. I don't want to get into the truck after walking through the yard. What if my foot slips off the brake pedal?  This isn't my first walk in the park. I've seen a lot of this sort of thing.

If I owe any "thank you"s to any readers for the shift in attitudes,

Thank You.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see that this is working out how it probably should have in the first place. I don't know what neighbourhoods your properties are in, but make sure to contact your local Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation in regards to the possibility of accessing an exterior fix up grant. They are likely available in Daniel Mac/St. Matthews, Spence, West Broadway, Centennial, West Alexander, Dufferin, Lord Selkirk Park, William Whyte, St. John's and North Point Douglas.