Code Enforcement begins on east side properties

Code Enforcement tells us over the past year, they've been through the west side and are now working on the east side to issue notifications to homeowners who need to make improvements to their properties.  However, some landlords and residents say it could push people out of the city.

The City of Erie's Code Enforcement Manager says they're getting the ball rolling on the Action Team to help improve blighted properties in the east and west Bayfront neighborhoods.

Andy Zimmerman, Manager of Code Enforcement, says, "With the different plans, that was the recommendation - that we concentrate our efforts in that area. Then, once we obtain the results that we're looking for, then we'll continue to move."

Zimmerman says they're beginning the effort with a light enforcement.  He says the Inspector in that area has not issued any citations, but has given out 1100 notices of violations.  

Community members say this effort is discouraging.  Alayna Getchell tells us, "They're here to help improve the community and the perception is, it's coming across as being punitive."

Landlord Melanie Brewer Teetzel says, "these current issues with code enforcement seem to have left alone some of the abandoned homes and have focused narrowly on landlords who are trying their best to provide quality living with responsive service to their tenants.  The core responsibilities of cutting the grass, ensuring the roof doesn't leak, ensuring the water and sewer is running and making improvements to the inside of the unit, has fallen wayside as landlords attempt to scramble to find extra cash to pay for 'painting the side of a building' or 'repairing a ripped screen'.

Non-profit organizations have been created to help homeowners improve the look of their property, and Code Enforcement says they're looking for funding to provide additional assistance.  Zimmerman says, "We're looking for cooperation is really what we're looking for.  We're not looking to push people out at all.  We're looking for funds to help.  A lot of volunteer agencies are looking to go and help, as well."

One of the organizations looking to help is the Bayfront Eastside Task Force.  Jeremy Bloeser, Executive Director of the BETF, says, "we let the owners know that if they do get a code violation, they first should reach out to the city so they understand what the issues are and then come to us and see if there's some assistance we can help them with...  Some people have broken windows, they might have doors that are not satisfactory, missing siding... Wherever we might be able to help out, and sometimes fix... sometimes [it's] a little more costly."

These codes have been around for 50 years, plus.  The recent Bayfront Eastside Task Force says the goal with everyone is to have all properties kept to the same standard; to look nice and be safe and secure.  However, landlords tell us this could inevitably force them to sell, because they're focusing on paint or other things they call small and instead of major fixes inside the home.

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